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RICS calls for step-change in retrofitting housing

Words: Huw Morris
Energy Efficient Housing

The government must make a step-change in policies for decarbonising the UK’s existing housing stock as part of a resilient recovery from Covid-19.

The call, in a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) policy paper, highlights how government incentives can promote positive consumer behaviour while supporting more people to consider making their homes energy efficient as they spend more time at home.

Around 15 per cent of total UK emissions come from heating homes. However less than 5 per cent of the energy used for heating homes and buildings is from low-carbon sources. RICS argues that new build housing is one of the most energy-efficient property types for investors and tend to have highest Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings. But less than 2 per cent of annual housing stock is new build, which means the government should focus on retro-fitting existing properties.

Its recommendations include a uniform VAT rate of 5 per cent for home improvement and repair to houses to enhance energy efficiency, which would be carried out by an accredited installer or contractor with a recognised quality mark. The impact of the Minimum Energy Efficient Standards at point of sale should be reviewed as part of the regulatory ambitions to bring all homes to an EPC Energy Performance Certificate rating of C by 2035.

The government must also engage with industry to improve public awareness of standards and professional competency- based advice and training regarding energy efficiency retrofits and wider home improvement works, especially for heritage buildings which are more complex and present a skills gap in the market.

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