Today, despite many policy interventions, the UK’s homes and buildings still represent 15% of all carbon emissions. Policymakers and businesses are rightly acknowledging that net zero will remain a pipedream until this issue is tackled head on. However, as the Coalition lays out, decarbonising a home every minute until 2050 will prove difficult, without placing consumers at the heart of the transition.
Recognising that each consumer journey will be different, due to personal levels of awareness, readiness to act and the diversity of the UK’s building stock the report lays out six distinct customer pathways, helping every household identify with a particular journey.
The pathways will help people and policymakers alike, to better visualise the physical steps and process to follow to achieve the ambition of a net zero built environment, while guaranteeing more comfortable homes and buildings. More broadly, the report calls for Government and the wider business community to address the following challenges in order to better support consumers:
Increasing consumer awareness – Government, the Coalition and the sector should support a national consumer awareness and engagement programme
Offering clear and personal advice – The Coalition and the sector need to establish themselves as independent and trusted advisers, and Government should encourage and establish Local Area Energy Plans
Ensuring affordable upgrades – The Coalition and the wider sector need to provide easily accessible financial products (green loans and mortgages). The Government should introduce a new grant system and low carbon heat incentives.
Making the process easy – The Coalition and the wider sector need to make sure products are integrated into one package such as mortgages, heating solutions and installation. The Government need to ensure decisions and long-term signals are timely, focused and reduce the burdens on customers.
Scaling the supply chain – For the Coalition and the sector, they need to help develop the future workforce and Government, need to signal, and engage with the supply chains to maximise jobs and investment.
Building certainty and trust – the Government need to provide a clear and ambitious strategy on homes and buildings, the gas network and plans to convert to low carbon gases. And bring forward a future homes standard.
Critically, the report calls on the Government to place the consumer at the heart of its plans as it looks to deliver its strategy for the decarbonisation of UK homes, and provide clear long-term signals to transition the UK’s energy and building sector. The Coalition believes the UK can achieve a net-zero built environment, and this report is the first of many contributions to that ambition.
Lloyd Cochrane, Head of Mortgages at NatWest Group said:
“Through our partnerships in the Coalition, we want to drive a better understanding of what can be done across the industry and government to raise awareness among consumers and building owners, provide relevant information and appropriate support. We know that making greener choices in the home can often be complex and expensive and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ for individual customers.
As the principal banking sponsor supporting COP26 in Glasgow later this year, we want to support customers in making greener choices. This ranges from improving their carbon footprint through our partnership with CoGo, discounts through our green mortgage range and work to ensure customers can understand what they can do to improve the energy efficiency of their home.”
Carl Arntzen, Chief Executive at Worcester Bosch said:
”There is no silver bullet to reach net zero emissions from home and building heating, it instead requires a mix of technologies working together. For homeowners, it is vital to have an understanding of what would work for their property and what support they can receive.
“This is why we are fully in support of the Coalition and its first report. We believe it is a firm step towards educating and empowering consumers and installers to make greener choices when it comes to their home heating.
“We look forward to continuing our work with our Coalition partners as we move towards a sustainable future.”
Matthew Bateman, Managing Director, British Gas Services & Solutions, British Gas, said:
“As an energy services and solutions company we have a big role to play in helping our customers transition to a lower carbon future, whether that be through our home energy management solutions, such as heat pumps and EV charging, which are all controlled via the Hive app, or making changes to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
“We are acutely aware that the transition needs to be fair and affordable for all so no customers are left behind, which is why we welcome the report laying out several pathways to net zero, reflecting the challenge ahead, whether that be with our housing stock or customer awareness and readiness.”
The Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition was set up by NatWest, Worcester Bosch, British Gas, Shelter with the support of Citizens Advice to help put the customer at the heart of the transition and to drive the important agenda of heat and building decarbonisation.