The importance of the property market within in the green revolution

As COP26 came to a close, it’s difficult to know exactly how much impact this may have on the future wellbeing of the planet. However, one thing we do know is that immediate action is required, otherwise any future plans may be too little, too late - such is the gravity of the situation. And, as ever, action speaks far louder than words.

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Matthew Cumber | Countrywide Surveying Services
22nd November 2021
Matthew Cumber Countrywide
"Whilst the government obviously has the most prominent role to play in the funding of energy efficiency improvements, we all need to play our part."

We all have a responsibility to limit the harm we cause to the planet and this is not lost on the housing and mortgage markets. After all, residential homes reportedly account for 22% of the UK’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. To help combat this, the UK government has set a target for all homes to reach a minimum level C on a system of energy performance certificates (EPCs) by 2035. Landlords are facing an even tougher timescale as the government wants them to ensure homes reach level C or better for new tenancies by 2025 and by 2028 for all tenancies.

This timescale demonstrates just how quickly action needs to be taken and the importance of the role played by the property market within in the green revolution. However, when it comes to green mortgages, we are starting from a very low base. A fact which was evident in a recent poll from our webinar series focusing on the question - Green Mortgages: Are these the carrot or stick needed to improve overall ESG in the UK housing market?

This found that an overwhelming 94% of brokers are yet to ‘sell’ a green mortgage product. In addition, 92% of surveyors in the audience reported that they are still yet to value a property with an EPC rating of A. Further polls were taken during the webinar around what is being done to address challenges in improving energy efficiency in homes. Within these, the audience highlighted a real drive from people to improve energy efficiency, with 46% personally seeking to carry out improvements over the next three years to make their homes more sustainable. As part of the discussion we also asked the audience how they thought the majority of home improvements will be funded to make existing housing stock more sustainable. The majority of respondents’ cited government funding as being a key source (53%) followed by mortgage or second charge lending finance (24%). Panellists also agreed there is currently limited understanding of public obligations and what is coming down the track in terms of legislation and incentives.

Whilst the government obviously has the most prominent role to play in the funding of energy efficiency improvements, we all need to play our part. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have an obligation to support and contribute positively to our communities, be transparent in the way we deliver our services and report our performance in an honest and evidence based way.

Here at Countrywide Surveying Services, we are serious about reducing our negative impact and developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy to deliver services in a sustainable and responsible way to our customers, while engaging with all our stakeholders in this journey. And to support this we have brought in Ana Bajri an expert in sustainability to lead this. We also chair the RICS Working Group to rewrite the residential mortgage specification – a piece which is crucial in ensuring that the mortgage valuation places much more emphasis on energy efficiency than it currently does.

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do but this remains work in progress. We are always willing to learn how to do, and be, better and this is why it’s so important to share good practice and keep the lines of communication open. It’s great to see this issue being tackled at the highest of levels across the industry, so let’s continue striving to form a more aligned approach and improve our efforts collectively. After all, the future demands it.

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