Guest blog: Decarbonising the UK housing stock

First published in Society Matters magazine, by Ana Bajri, Head of Sustainability, Countrywide Surveying Services

First published in Society Matters magazine, by Ana Bajri, Head of Sustainability, Countrywide Surveying Services

UK housing is responsible for 23% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions and with climate change rising up the agenda, the sector will have a key part to play in meeting targets and reducing emissions.

Although the Government has made great strides at providing a direction of travel for the sector following its publication of the Net Zero and Heat and Buildings Strategies, more clarity will be required on how the industry will be able to deliver on the challenge of decarbonising the UK housing stock in the immediate future.

As a leading provider of mortgage valuations and home surveys in the UK, Countrywide Surveying Services are committed to playing our part in advising our lender partners and consumers in minimising negative environmental impact.  The role of property valuations in reflecting energy performance in homes is crucial, as well as our ability to provide expert advice to consumers in improving energy efficiency in their homes.

Looking at whether energy efficiency is currently reflected in value, at this point in time our valuers report that they are not observing any concrete evidence that energy efficient homes are valued more, with other factors still being prominent in home purchases.

This is echoed in a recent Residential Market Survey by RICS (published in November 2021) which highlighted that whilst one-third of respondents have seen an uptick in demand for energy efficient homes, it isn't currently impacting property value. Over three quarters of respondents see little to no impact of having an energy efficient property on sale prices.

As the regulatory landscape shifts, we are beginning to see a drive from lenders to start to consider energy efficiency and EPCs in mortgage valuations, with more lenders becoming increasingly concerned with EPC ratings. How this is reflected in the context of valuations will need to be a key focal point for our industry moving forward.

More joined up thinking is going to be required across the housing sector; from lenders, government and policy makers to offer extra incentives, rewards or penalties to tip the balance and attract home buyers to energy efficient homes as a prime feature.

As tackling the climate crisis is clearly now a priority, Government and the sector need to proactively engage to improve public awareness of energy efficiency standards; and address the skills capacity and competence on retrofitting and wider energy efficiency improvement works, especially for the existing housing stock which presents a bigger challenge and a skills gap in the market.

Climate change and environmental issues will continue to be centre stage for the sector moving forward and, although decarbonisation of the UK housing stock presents us with a multitude of challenges and many hurdles to get over, it also comes with opportunities for us as an industry.

However, while environmental impact has risen up the agenda for us all, we must not lose sight of social considerations, which will also need to be addressed alongside any unintended consequences that the industry and society may be faced with in our journey to decarbonise our homes.

We are currently developing our product range to ensure we are leading the way in providing homeowners, buyers and landlords with enhanced expert advice on improving the efficiency of their home. This year, we developed a unique online self-service tool, EnergyFact, which offers informative advice and energy surveying support. It produces a report to include recommendations, costs and savings of potential home upgrades as well as other low-cost ways to improve the energy efficiency of a home, while supporting homeowners to make better informed decisions.

Find out more

See the Countrywide EnergyFact report here

The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.