In this first episode of KammaKast, Kamma’s CEO and Co-Founder Orla Shields is joined by Kevin Murphy, Customer Journey Manager and Climate Lead at NatWest Group. Together, they discuss climate change, its impact on the built environment and NatWest’s initiatives to meet Net Zero targets.
As well as watching or listening on this page, you can watch and subscribe to the conversation on YouTube or listen now using your favourite podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify, where you can also subscribe to receive the next episodes as soon as they are released.
The following is an overview of Orla and Kevin’s discussion together with guideline time stamps so you can jump straight to that section if you want to hear those topics discussed first.
Climate change discourse has remained a hot topic over the last few years, with proposed regulations aimed at improving energy efficiency and abating rising energy prices, currently making their way through the House of Commons.
As NatWest’s Climate Lead, Kevin helps customers improve their homes’ energy efficiency, cut energy costs and protect their investments. According to Kevin, EPC awareness, associated costs, and government policy remain the key challenges for clients.
Kevin notes that NatWest’s Green Homes Attitude Tracker has allowed the Bank to discern the best ways to communicate with customers about their energy costs. NatWest is currently lobbying the government to influence suitable policy in an initiative to implement more renewable energy sources in the home.
With a recent study by WWF and ScottishPower suggesting that green upgrades in a home can boost a property’s value by £10,000, Kevin suggests there will be more positive behaviours towards energy efficiency improvements. Orla predicts we may see bigger uplifts in green home improvements after a couple of winters as homeowners attempt to save on energy prices.
Kevin reinforces that encouraging customer behaviour is pivotal to reducing energy usage and cutting emissions in the home. Explaining the benefits to customers on a personal and a global level (“Planet and Pocket”) will help drive that change.
As consumer sentiment shifts, Kevin says the private sector will have a great opportunity to lend to customers to invest in their properties and improve affordability.
With the cost-of-living crisis worsening and energy costs rising to record levels, education is more important than ever. NatWest aims to roll out digital EPCs using comprehensive data based on EPCs and property types. The bank has also launched a retrofit pilot under the “Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition”, which will fund the retrofitting of 10 homes and track the benefits of doing so.
In 2020, NatWest became one of the first major high-street banks to launch green mortgages, which, as Kevin remarks, is a great success for landlords and owner-occupiers. He says NatWest is currently looking at green additional borrowing products to support landlords moving to higher efficiency homes.
Orla adds that 64% of UK rental properties are below an EPC C rating, and it may be challenging to retrofit these homes before the impending MEES regulations come into effect in 2028.
Through the retrofit program, Kevin notes there is a lack of available tradesmen to undertake retrofit jobs. He believes this may create a bottleneck for rental homes that require retrofitting. Orla agrees that the recognition of skills and labour for tradesmen needs to be addressed.
Kevin recognises that personalised data is vital for improving a home’s EPC. With this cumulative data, NatWest will be able to advise customers on the fabric of their home (the EPC) and the occupancy behaviour (how energy is consumed).
Orla says that today’s EPC data is a “broad brush”, and it’s important to use more modern sources to overlay data and make it more relevant to homeowners.
Kevin details the beginnings of the Coalition, comprised of NatWest, British Gas, Worcester Bosch and Shelter. The group noticed a cross-sector gap in the market and launched an initiative to assist vulnerable customers.
After thorough planning and strategising, the group published its first ‘Home is where the Heat is’ report in collaboration with KPMG. Further plans are in the pipeline to drive the agenda of energy consumption and building decarbonisation.
Kevin hopes that by using the “power of the platform”, the Coalition can “deliver credibility” and influence policy going forward. The Coalition, helping to fund the retrofit program, will also publish video diaries of the pilot at the Houses of Parliament on October 19th.
You can keep up with the latest NatWest Group news here.
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