HESS ambitions must be delivered
Published:  22 May, 2009

LONDON: The Construction Products Association welcomed the Government's latest consultation on Heat and Energy Saving Strategy (HESS), but called for greater detail of both the finance and delivery if the scheme is to have any chance of working.

Commenting on the strategy, John Tebbit, industry affairs director at the CPA said: "This strategy aims to upgrade every building in the UK by 2030, but the need to scale up the response to match the ambition is still some way off.

"To upgrade all 25 million homes in the UK is equivalent to building either a Crossrail project or two Olympics every year for the next two to three decades.

"This would mean a doubling of the existing housing repair maintenance and improvement spend and we estimate this would require an additional half a million extra workers. If you include all other buildings schools, hospitals, offices, factories and shops it probably adds half as much again."

Mr Tebbit said that there was no doubt that the industry could deliver these improvements, given a long-term, well-funded delivery plan.

In view of the size of the challenge, the CPA, he stated, did not believe that householders would commit substantial funds to home improvement without both fiscal incentives and regulatory requirements.

"How these two are balanced over the two to three decades that HESS will take will be a complex and politically challenging task but one that must be successfully achieved."

Prior to the consultation, the CPA launched a pamphlet entitled Delivering Low Carbon Existing Housing Stock. It explains the challenges ahead and outlines a number of issues the Government needs to address. These include how the current home improvement initiatives should be co-ordinated in order to deliver maximum benefit to the existing stock.

Other aspects of HESS include:

The Climate Change Act. It requires an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.

Refurbishment costs: There are 25 million existing homes in the UK. An optimistic refurbishment cost of 10 000 for an 80% reduction in emissions would mean a total cost of 250bn. Evidence from Germany indicates costs could be nearer 30,000 to achieve 60-80% reductions.

HESS estimates upgrading 1.7 million homes a year from 2020 at 10 000 a home. That means 17bn a year. The current housing RMI spend (from Office of National Statistics data for 2007) is 17.7bn.

Typical improvements to achieve 80% reductions for homes would include:

Insulation to all external walls, including solid walls and roofs.

Upgraded glazing systems.


New heating and hot water systems, including renewables where appropriate, and/or community heating systems.

Advanced control systems, including smart metering.

There is a wide range of incentives that could be used to support householders who wish to improve their homes. These include reductions in VAT, income tax relief on upgrades, lowering council tax, adjusting stamp duty to reflect the energy performance of homes when up for sale, and long-term 'pay-as-you-save' schemes.

There is no definitive data giving the number of non-domestic buildings that need to be upgraded or their current energy performance. The Energy Performance in Buildings Directive will gradually change this, said CPA.

"Robust, transparent and credible delivery and reporting mechanisms need to be established," said Mr Tebbit. "To-date, date there are no mechanisms that achieve these requirements."

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