Message is not getting through

ALL the parties campaigning for yesterday’s local elections put green issues at the heart of their message.

ALL the parties campaigning for yesterday’s local elections put green issues at the heart of their message. Despite this and media coverage of global warming, the requirement for our homes to be carbon neutral by 2016 does not seem to have sunk in.

This was reinforced by a survey for the National House Building Council Foundation. It showed energy efficiency is not a major factor when people consider buying a home.

Green measures are less important to buyers than, for example, a higher specification kitchen or bathroom.

When asked how they would spend money saved on energy bills, the most common answer was flying away on an overseas holiday!

The Government recognises its zero carbon target is, to say the least, challenging. But it seems unwilling to extend its time frame when 30% of energy is consumed by homes which produce 27% of carbon emissions. The NHBC research concluded it was for Government and building industry to help people engage in the process.

NHBC Foundation chairman Nick Raynsford summed up the difficulty: “It is vital for homebuyers to actually want to live in zero carbon homes if they are to be a successful reality. If this does not happen, there is the distinct possibility that purchasers will decide against buying newly built, low carbon properties. …

“While previous evolutionary changes in housing, such as double glazing, central heating and extra sanitary facilities, have had positive effects on lifestyle for the consumer, the proposals for improving the environmental performance of new homes may not necessarily be perceived in the same way.”

Construction and energy sectors are helping, for example with timber framed homes assembled in 48 hours. There are also technologies such as micro wind turbines and ground source heat pumps.

Progress towards carbon neutrality is a battle for hearts and minds and – as the survey found – will probably be fought in the pocket.

Contact Catriona Lingwood on (0191) 383-7435 or catriona@constructingexcellence-ne.org.uk

Catriona Lingwood is regional director, Constructing Excellence in the North East

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