Brief overview of the initiative
The Government has pledged to cover two-thirds of homeowners’ costs incurred by the installation of ‘primary’ energy efficiency measures up to a maximum of £10,000. Primary measures are those such as cavity wall or roof insulation, biomass boilers or solar thermal systems. This pledge applies to all works completed by 31 March 2021. Homeowners for the purposes of this grant includes landlords, long leaseholders and shared ownership. Whilst it is positive that the Government are being proactive in the fight against climate change, the deadline for the offer demonstrates that this particular initiative is very short-term. This highlights the need for developers to ‘think long’ when it comes to constructing energy efficient homes.
Net zero development
For new developments, the way to achieve energy efficiency is to create net zero buildings. To have a net zero building means that any carbon emissions are off-set to create a neutralising effect.
There are many ways to achieve this. One option is modern methods of construction (MMC). In the 2019 Government report on MMC, it stated that the homes built using modular or volumetric construction creates homes that use 20% to 30% less energy that traditional methods of construction. Another option is to focus on the design and layout of the building. Around 30% of the UK’s emissions derive from the heating and cooling of buildings together with their electricity supply and by ensuring that the building is well-insulated using triple-glazed windows, for example, and ensuring the building is as air tight as possible, the home will use less energy on heating.
So, how is the Government supporting developers in this?
Government initiatives for the developer
There is a Government consultation for the Green Heat Network Fund which closes today. The proposal is funding of £270 million to decarbonise the heat in homes by improving or creating new heat networks. A heat network describes a system whereby a heat source is connected to a network of buildings. The purpose of this funding is to shift the heat sources from a power station supply to something “zero carbon” such as bi-product heat energy from an industrial unit. This funding would, in turn, allow developers to build homes with zero carbon heat sources. This demonstrates that the Government is thinking about new homes rather than just improving existing homes. We will have to await the result of the consultation.
Homeowners in England can apply for vouchers worth up to £10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient through the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme, which opened this week.