Environmental Audit Committee publishes its fourth report

Constructing Excellence

This week the Environmental Audit Committee today published its fourth report on the Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes. Recommendations for government in the report, which quotes extensively from the English Housing Survey, include:

  • Address the “chronic shortage of skills” in retrofit by funding a dedicated training programme for green jobs.
  • Review its cost projections for retrofit to ensure that they include the cost of heat pumps and correct their significant underestimations of how much decarbonising our homes will cost.
  • Urgently overhaul the Green Homes Grant, which has been hampered by “disastrous” administration and “botched implementation”, and extend it to a multi-year scheme.
  • Extend the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme with a larger budget over several years and a greater role for local energy hubs.
  • Overhaul EPCs “by revealing not just the fuel cost but also the energy and carbon metrics in its headline rating” (NB: this section suggests they have not understood that EPCs are an asset rating rather than a statement of real energy use). EPCs should eventually be replaced with “building renovation passports”.
  • Reduce VAT on renovation and refurbishment work and on energy-saving materials and commit to exploring other green finance initiatives like stamp duty rebates for homebuyers who improve the energy efficiency of their homes within a year of purchase.
  • Consult on redressing the balance of levies on electricity/gas to incentivise the electrification of home heating.
  • Introduce minimum energy efficiency standards across all tenures, with the same standards for private and social rented sectors.
  • Upgrade the English energy advice service to something more bespoke like the Home Energy Scotland network.
  • Stipulate the use of sustainable materials in public sector energy efficiency contracts to support the domestic supply chain – the report mentions natural fibre insulation.