Guest blog by Colin Fyfe, Chief Executive of Hinckley & Rugby Building Society and Chair of the BSA Green Finance Taskforce.
Talk about climate risk is all around us. Whether it is COP 26, the almost daily reports of extreme weather, our firms' climate strategies or TV and radio shows. It can be overwhelming, particularly when the reports and insights leave contrasting messages about the road ahead. If it's challenging for us, I am sure it's more daunting for many consumers, with the fear of climate change and the potential risk of falling house prices making more noise than the clamour to take steps to decarbonise your home or investment property.
So, what are those steps forward and how do we point towards the thinking and direction that consumers need to take?
At Hinckley & Rugby, we decided that we need to test what works and how to build awareness and understanding. The solution lies in partnerships and thankfully this is not new thinking for us. The combination of two towns and two counties regularly leads us to think about who we can work with and there is growing expertise in the home retrofit space.
First of all, we linked with the Sero Group which has been working with Monmouthshire Building Society and with local councils in Wales to look at retrofitting opportunities. It is with Sero that I first heard the phrase ’Pathway to Zero’ and thought “Yes! That’s exactly what we want to talk about”. With Sero we have identified a cohort of our property-owning members to illustrate the steps along this pathway - introducing the concept, building an understanding, completing a whole home survey and then laying out a personalised roadmap for their journey. We can’t predict whether these members are ready to start making the required changes to their homes, but we will learn from them in the process.
Another firm that caught our attention is IRT Surveys. They combine infrared technology with a mobile app to show consumers the work that is required on their property and what better way than an image that demonstrates where heat is escaping. This test involves a range of Society employees and is highlighting how to bring climate risk to life, using their own homes and providing them with recommendations on improvement opportunities. This exercise also enables our staff to speak about home energy savings with first-hand experience.
We are also lucky to have active Rotary Clubs locally and none more so than in Rugby. Climate concerns have caught their imagination and we are working with them on two initiatives. The idea of regular climate supporting ideas was one recommendation from the clubs and has led to the creation of Rotary World Savers. Each week local subscribers will receive suggestions for how they can actively play their part in combatting climate change. Again, the focus is on raising awareness and understanding within the local community.
On a more ambitious front, the Rotary Clubs would like to support the town of Rugby to be a centre of excellence for climate awareness. Early days but it’s this type of idea which encourages our communities to collaborate and learn from each other.
So, the challenge is significant but starts with small steps forward, rather than being overwhelmed. That is what we are doing at Hinckley & Rugby and we will continue to share our learnings through the BSA Green Finance Taskforce.
Hinckley & Rugby Building Society; Sero Group ; IRT Surveys