Rural housing sector already taking action to meet the climate challenge

The rural housing sector is already active in helping to reduce carbon emissions by building to incredibly energy efficient standards.
This was the message expressed on BBC News this afternoon by leading rural housing association Hastoe in response to the Government’s long-awaited ‘Clean Growth Strategy’.

The plan, published today (Thursday 12 October), sets out how the Government intends to meet the fifth carbon budget which seeks to limit the UK’s annual carbon emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032.

Residential homes now account for 13% of the UK's carbon emissions, and this rises to 22% once electricity use is taken into account. Rural specialists Hastoe argue that continued investment in building innovative, energy efficient homes can help to tackle the sector’s carbon footprint.

Hastoe Development Manager Ulrike Maccariello was on hand at Hastoe’s Passivhaus development in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire this afternoon to show how housing providers are already taking action to help meet the climate challenge.

Ulrike said: “Investing in energy efficient housing like the Passivhaus homes we are building for the local people of Sharnbrook can offer a whole host of benefits, both to the environment and to our residents. These homes are built to exceedingly high standards of air tightness and are highly insulated with triple-glazed windows and thick walls – greatly reducing heat and energy loss through the building fabric.

“This approach helps to reduce energy generation while also delivering huge savings on utility bills. Residents at our previous Passivhaus developments report that average gas bills in three-bed houses are just £125 per year compared to a UK average of over £1,000 per year.

“This is just one example of how the rural housing sector is taking action to help protect our planet and reduce the rising energy gap. But building these homes is expensive as they must meet incredibly high standards and the supply chain in the UK is not yet mature.

“These homes will only be more commonplace once the cost to build them comes down, but this will only happen as we build more homes to this standard. Government must take this opportunity to increase our capacity to reduce emissions by incentivising the delivery of more high quality, energy efficient homes.”

Commenting on the Clean Growth Strategy, Hastoe Chief Executive Sue Chalkley said: “It is fantastic that Government will be consulting on how we can improve the energy efficiency of our homes, particularly of our social housing stock.

“At Hastoe we believe in a fabric-first approach to energy efficiency, to ensure that sustainability is built into homes from the very beginning. But it is just as important that our existing homes are performing highly, especially those in rural areas which are not connected to the gas grid. We welcome Government’s suggestion to fit new homes off mains gas with low carbon systems, such as heats pumps, and look forward to working with Government towards a lower carbon future.”

Bevan Jones, Managing Director of sustainability consultancy and Hastoe subsidiary Sustainable Homes, said: “Sustainable Homes welcomes the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy. It sets a course and a vision for how the UK must move to a low carbon future.

“The Clean Growth Strategy presents economic opportunities to all businesses within the housing sector to deliver low carbon, comfortable and efficient homes, while also changing their practices to become efficient and greener. The Government has set a course – it’s now time for the industry to respond with ambition and action.”

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