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  • Andrew Byrne

Green Finance Institute prepares the ground for sustainable housing

In 2017, an independent taskforce was created by the government to accelerate the growth of green finance and UK’s low carbon economy. The taskforce published a report in July 2019 which led to the establishment of the Green Finance Institute with a mission to “accelerate the transition to a clean, resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by channelling capital at pace and scale towards real-economy outcomes that will create jobs and increase prosperity for all”.

The emphasis was firmly placed on collaboration: cross-party initiatives, public and private sector involvement with practitioners from industry, finance, government, academia and non-profit sectors.

In May 2020, a Green Finance Institute off-shoot, the Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings (CEEB), published a phase-one report which advocated increasing the pace and scale of investment into the efficiency and resilience of residential buildings. This report was based on input from more than 150 individual members from the finance, property and energy sectors.

It proposed a portfolio of 21 demonstration projects across owner-occupied and privately and socially rented residences with an emphasis on retrofitting at scale. It concluded that 30% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions emanated from the built environment and a failure to reduce this could result in a 40% shortfall to UK decarbonisation targets emissions by 2030.

On September 16th, the Green Finance Institute through the CEEB launched the Zero Carbon Heating Taskforce from among their members to identify barriers and enablers to investment in low-carbon heating across the UK housing sector. The taskforce revealed that domestic heating and hot water account for almost 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

It is hoped that the findings of the group will result in a series of new financial products and non-financial enablers to channel investment into sustainable projects. The taskforce has some big hitters from the energy sector – Centrica, E.ON, Engie and Octopus – included in their advisors. Also, Defra, the Scottish and Welsh governments and local authorities from London and Manchester provide input with finance expertise coming organisations such as BNP Paribas, Legal & General, Lloyds and Santander.

In July, the Green Homes Grant scheme was announced by the government as part of the summer economic update. This scheme is set to begin providing grants for home improvements which will make homes more energy efficient. In conjunction with the work of the Green Finance Institute, progress should be made towards meeting the UK net-zero targets.


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