Zero Carbon Retrofit – Good News For Residents As Well As The Planet
Naturally, the discussion around net zero carbon retrofit programmes is centred on the environment and the climate crisis. Net zero carbon housing will play an indispensable part in decarbonising the built environment and the UK economy.
But what does it mean for an individual resident of social housing?
A survey conducted by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) indicates that 33% of the UK population are ‘very concerned’ about climate change and another 47% are ‘fairly concerned’. This suggests there’s a good starting point for getting residents onside when local authorities and housing associations plan large-scale retrofit programmes.
While these statistics are encouraging, we shouldn’t forget that most people’s main concerns and motivations are more personal. Building acceptance and enthusiasm for net zero carbon retrofits should also emphasize what those personal benefits are.
Zero Carbon Retrofits for Health and Wellbeing
A warm and healthy environment inside our homes is essential for physical and mental wellbeing. Recent hikes in energy prices will inevitably make more people question how much heating they can afford.
The reality is that energy is likely to continue to get more expensive. Homes heated by gas boilers (about 85% of UK housing stock) will be most affected, which will mean many more people being faced with the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma. Net zero carbon retrofit programmes offer a practical way out for millions of people.
Healthy Air Quality
Homes that are not properly heated can also lead to issues with condensation, damp and mould. These have significant implications for health – particularly for people with respiratory conditions. The simple reality of not being able to afford the energy needed to keep warm is a constant drain on mental resilience and wellbeing. There is a cost to all of this that is borne by health and care services.
While the climate emergency is the main driver for local authorities and housing associations, communications with residents should also focus on the day-to-day benefits of living in a warm, comfortable home with healthy air quality. A life without the constant anxiety about the next energy bill.
Even if there was no climate emergency there are many reasons why a national programme to upgrade the insulation and heating systems used in millions of social homes would be an excellent idea.