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Reducing carbon emissions from Barnet’s homes

by Syed Ahmed

A great blog by housing energy efficiency specialists Parity Projects on the workforce required to see homes on a zero carbon pathway – and the retrofit tasks and skills required to upgrade homes. As a reminder of the challenge just in Barnet – never mind the UK – there are 160,000 homes in the borough. The latest data shows that through the Mayor’s energy efficiency scheme have supported the retrofit of exactly 200 homes in the borough since 2016 (see data here). The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme is the Government’s main household energy efficiency programme. The latest data published by the Department of Business Energy and Industry (BEIS) shows that just over 5,000 homes received an energy efficiency improvement since this new phase of the scheme began operation in 2015. (See BEIS statistics for March 2020 here – tab 4.4 of the spreadsheet there).

So – over the past five years or so, being generous, some 5,500 homes in Barnet have had some form of energy efficiency improvements installed through a targeted programme. In addition – approximately 1.6m boilers are replaced every year across the UK. Barnet’s likely share of this would be about 10,000 or so per year – 50,000 over the past five years – which would all have improved the energy efficiency of homes.

Whilst this level of activity is to be welcomed, none of the work currently being undertaken in existing homes achieves anything near the zero carbon standard needed to fully address the climate emergency. Much deeper retrofits are required, and the scale of action needs to be significantly increased if we are to reduce emissions from the domestic sector across Barnet and all other parts of the UK.

Prioritising energy efficiency in Barnet’s homes will boost opportunities for local building services companies, insulation firms, plumbers and other associated trades. These are exactly the SMEs currently being hammered during the lockdown. Boosting energy efficiency will be good for Barnet’s homes, for tackling fuel poverty, for resident’s health and supporting local businesses and employment.

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Post -Covid 19: What Will Be The New Normal?

by Tony Sarchet

A crisis as serious as the current pandemic has put normal life on hold. At the same time, it raises certain concerns about exactly what kind of normal life we should be hoping to return to once the crisis has passed. A lower carbon one would be nice.

Here are a few questions that have occurred to me, prompted by the changes we have all been living through:

Now that we’ve all been forced to get used to conducting meetings from home using platforms such as Zoom, will companies in future enthusiastically revert to spending large sums of money sending their employees across the country, continent or world to check into expensive hotels in order to transact business? Or will some proportion of them decide to forego the jet lag, the travel time and the expenditure? What will this mean for projected future airline capacity? Will the money these airlines are already pleading the government to bail them out with turn out to be money well-spent?

And now that companies have been forced to make arrangements for many of their employees to work from home, how many of them may occasionally prefer not to have to undergo the crowded and stressful daily commute? Will this have an impact on future passenger numbers?

And now that many smaller companies which previously supplied produce exclusively to restaurants and cafes have started offering home deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables of impressively good quality, how much of a chunk of the big supermarkets’ consumer business might they retain? And wouldn’t this be good for both growers and wholesalers, and maybe even help to reduce food miles?

The new normal seems to be a place where there is such a thing as society, where people in medicine and the caring professions are regarded as heroes. I wonder what else will be discovered – or rediscovered?