Dear Editor, Budget announcements of new investment in the environmental economy and green housing are welcome but the Human City Institute (HCI) hoped for a bolder announcement of a large scale retro-fitting of our housing stock to tackle global warming and fuel poverty while reducing unemployment in the construction sector.
Many now recognise, and it is supported by HCI’s research, that unrestrained climate change will affect the poor and old most so reducing the 27 percent of UK carbon emissions that come from our housing is the best way of tackling growing fuel poverty which now affects one in 10 families, as well as global warming.
Some budget announcements begin to address these interrelated issues but in hindsight it may have been a missed opportunity to tackle a number of economic, social and environmental problems.
HCI argues in a soon to be published research report that new housing should meet the highest energy efficiency standards – whether in larger eco-towns or neighbourhood developments – but upgrading the energy efficiency in existing homes, or breathing new life into the 72,000 empty homes in the West Midlands – 88 percent in the private sector – is the most effective way of tackling global warming and reducing fuel poverty while providing more, quality and affordable housing without an excessive call on the greenbelt. The construction industry – badly depressed following the credit crunch and a stalling housing market – could then employ tens of thousands of currently redundant construction workers to deliver a ‘Green New Deal’ which is supported by the majority of commentators, research organisations and even President Obama.
Vice-Chair, Human City Institute