Sometimes the old clichés do have a ring of truth – like the one that says two heads are better than one, for example (but we only mean that metaphorically – we’re not talking about mythical monsters).
In retrofit, with new technology at work, that’s especially true. Upgrading your energy efficiency can involve a lot more than two heads: there’s the advice you probably received, and there are your installers – which can involve builders, plumbers, electricians and technicians from the manufacturers – and last but not least, funders – like councils, or energy companies.
Now imagine organising all of that on a larger scale. A large project needs to be sure of success, with the right technology for the right conditions, installed correctly, with the right risks identified and the successes predicted based on actual conditions. Bringing two sets of experiences together can massively increase the ability to see what will work best.
With this in mind, we’ve just started doing some work with Sustainable Homes, crunching out the conundrum of how to achieve affordable retrofitting in the rented sector. This is a vital area to address – especially as the rental sector looks set to rise, with fewer people than ever able to get a foot on the property ladder.
The government’s Green Deal programme is going to improve energy efficiency in rented homes – first by empowering energy-conscious tenants to spark landlords into action from 2012; and a couple of years after that, landlords will no longer be allowed to rent out the least energy-efficient properties. More on this from Sustainable Homes MD Andrew Eagles here (see? It’s teamwork even online).
The main obstacle to the mass-scale retrofit this will bring about is not going to be just scale, or will, or logistics: it’s going to be cost. But scale and logistics will come into it too, because the solution will have to work for landlords with massive housing stocks: namely, social landlords and local authorities.
The key questions we both think need attention are:
- Do householders understand, or want, the Green Deal?
- How can housing providers and local authorities make the most of the opportunity it presents?
- Will low-income families save enough on their fuel bills to repay costs?
- How will this retrofitting fit in with landords’ current maintenance programmes?
So who’s going to find the answers?
We all are, of course. Our two heads are inviting many more heads to come and put them all together at two (natch) events, titled How to finance green homes: one in Manchester on June 8 , and one in London on June 15. Expertise and insight guaranteed.
You can find out more about this meeting of minds and book your place on Sustainable Homes’ website.
And not a monster in sight.