This is the second in a series of four insightful, evidence-based articles focused on steps to achieving Net Zero for the UK property sector.
As a world-leading geospatial technology company and creator of the country’s most advanced dataset on residential carbon emissions, we at Kamma have charted the legislative journey to Net Zero in 2050 by identifying a 4-step framework:
Describing and dissecting the path to Property Zero in four steps does more than illuminate it. It also provides a framework through which to assess government policy and the impact on industry, as well as advising and incentivising businesses and individuals to make environmentally informed decisions.
More importantly, it shows that it’s possible, through both public and private sector financing channelled at pace and scale towards a true green economy.
Download our full report or view an engaging, interactive version here:
Improving the energy efficiency of homes is clearly a crucial component on the path to Net Zero. In fact, a huge part of the government’s strategy is focused on a fabric first approach. As the name suggests, fabric first upgrading is an energy efficiency approach where the outer fabric, or the efficiency of a house is upgraded before internal systems, such as boilers are replaced.
While Kamma’s first step considered energy-efficient devices inside the home, this second step focuses on upgrades to the outer shell of the home that minimise the need for energy consumption. Upgrades that result in heat retention are the best examples of fabric first upgrades, such as insulation and double glazed windows, the latter of which can save up to almost half a tonne of CO2e per year per house.
This is a really effective second step to achieving Property Zero. Installing fabric first before upgrading internal heating systems will ensure heat is retained while saving emissions when installing heat pumps (or similar) at a later stage. Together, these benefits can reduce emissions while saving people money on their energy bills.
|Type||Options||Cost of improvement|
|Wall insulation||Cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation||Between £900-5,000|
|Roof insulation||Increase loft insulation to 270 mm or flat roof insulation||Between £220-1,200|
|Window and door insulation||Double glazed windows and draught-proof single glazed windows||Between £100-5,000|
|Floor insulation||Suspended floor insulation||Around £1,000|
At the end of December 2020, 14.3 million properties had cavity wall insulation (70% of all properties with a cavity wall) and 16.6 million had loft insulation (66% of properties with a loft). Yet, only 772,000 or 9% had solid wall insulation.
It should be noted that the majority of these fabric first upgrades aren’t necessarily easy to implement. While modern homes are all fitted with double glazed windows and effective insulation, it is challenging to upgrade the millions upon millions of older buildings in the UK. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of these upgrades should be considered. As the table above shows, these upgrades will be out of reach for a lot of people who don’t have an incentive to upgrade.
It seems the government has considered these factors, which is why they are leaning heavily on legislation for this step and are primarily focusing on the private rental sector.
Kamma’s second step, improving the energy efficiency of homes, is the primary target of most legislation, so this is where industry can expect to be deployed. The Minimum Energy Efficiency of Buildings Bill, which has already passed the symbolic first reading, has identified a number of ways in which the private sector can be tasked with improving energy efficiency. This includes a proposal to increase Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards of Private Rented Sector properties to EER C, for which Kamma has calculated a cost of £29 billion. It further proposes that lenders achieve an average EER C across their mortgage books by 2030.
Whilst there is still much detail to be finalised before any proposals become law, the lack of progress to date, combined with the legally-binding nature of Net Zero ensures that any business linked to housing can expect to play a more prominent role.
One of the reasons behind the creation of Kamma’s 4-step pathway to Property Zero was to assess government policy and the efficacy of their supposed strategy. On the path to Net Zero by 2050, efficient homes can play a pivotal role. Fabric first upgrades are a really effective step that minimises the need for energy consumption by retaining heat.
Currently, however, we are concerned about the progress made to implement fabric first upgrades considering the collective subpar energy efficiency of UK homes and the precarious process towards achieving wide-scale upgrades via legislation and proactive implementation.
With our extensive report, we also hoped to create an easily consumed and understandable narrative to engage and mobilise the country toward Net Zero. Collectively, we can all be a part of this journey, and by raising the level of awareness and debate, we ensure a swifter and more efficient path to carbon neutrality for UK homes.
Contact us now to find out more about how Kamma can support your business’ drive to Property Zero.
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