Climate Change is the phrase on everyone’s lips as of right now. With the recent oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico resulting in the ocean catching fire, and the abnormal heatwaves that have spread across the globe, a move toward sustainability is more important than ever before. The Housing sector is no exception to this. With the existing housing stock making up an approximate 40% of all UK emissions and the outlined Net-Zero policies put in place, it is clear that drastic changes need to be made and soon.
There are numerous benefits to going green. The consequences of the rising global temperatures are already readily apparent – from violent storms to raging wildfires, if no changes are made then we can expect to see these events increase year on year. In the past thirty-years alone, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled resulting in more than 20 million people a year being forced from their homes. Lowering our carbon emissions will help slow the spread of climate change and prevent the further onset of disastrous side-effects such as freak weather events like droughts and wildfires. A unified move toward decarbonisation can also have positive impacts on people’s health. As carbon emissions fall, the air quality will begin to improve and the risk of respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and lung cancer will decrease significantly. This will ease the strain on our NHS and improve quality of life for people across the UK.
The business case for sustainability is equally as strong as the environmental one. When done properly, sustainable retrofits and green upgrades can improve the overall value of a property as well as its energy efficiency which leads to lower costs in the long run. Building homes with a higher EPC rating lowers the risk of energy wastage within a property more so than building regulation standard homes, meaning that the remaining stock doesn’t have to be refurbished so much to reach an average net zero stock. The mass need for sustainable retrofits has also created a boom in jobs – something that is expected to continue as the demand for sustainable upgrades continues to rise – which has a positive effect on the economy. The money generated by this can then be filtered back into the housing sector, helping to offset the costs accrued in the sector’s pursuit of sustainability. So, while the upfront costs appear alarming, a move toward energy efficiency and sustainability will save providers money in the long-term and help stabilise the UK’s economy.
But how can providers improve upon their sustainability?
Sustainability should be at the forefront of housing provider’s operations. It is vital that improvements be made throughout the social housing sector in an effort to slow the spread of climate change and the effects that follow, most of which would hit low-income residents the hardest, and there are a number of innovative technologies that can assist in this area. Through data-based retrofits, providers can identify energy deficits within their homes and implement sustainable solutions. Switchee’s Smart Thermostat comes with a built-in sensor that monitors the average temperature and humidity of a home and uploads that data to a secure server for providers to access. Through this technology, housing providers now have the ability to stream live insights into how that property is performing as well as better understand data on the environmental performance of the building fabric and effects of occupancy. By utilising technology and property data, providers can better monitor the efficiency of their homes and implement methods to help reduce their emission levels.