Delamare Park, the first Barratt site where every home has an Air Source Heat Pump / Photo Supplied by Barratt Developments
Paid for by Barratt
It is less than a year since COP26 arrived in Glasgow, bringing the world together to focus on tackling carbon emissions, protecting our precious forests and accelerating the shift to clean energy.
Meanwhile, this summer, we experienced widespread heatwaves, record temperatures and drought conditions across the UK – climate change is undoubtedly already here.
As the country’s largest and best known housebuilder at Barratt we know we have a big role to play in reducing carbon emissions and helping the environment.
This is why we are building a new generation of greener, cheaper-to-run homes and sustainable communities for tomorrow. This will deliver much- needed new housing, as well as help to boost the economy.
“This is why we are building sustainable communities, with a new generation of greener homes that are cheaper to run
Simply, we have to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, wherever they come from. And, with homes responsible for 16 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, and with energy bills driving inflation and putting pressure on households across the country, it makes sense to focus our efforts on greening the country’s housing stock.
Modern new homes are already around two-thirds more efficient than older properties, saving people thousands of pounds a year in utility bills. We estimate a new Barratt house could save £2,400 a year for residents. But the housebuilding industry is going further. It will be among the first sectors to take the next step and be net zero ready in just a few years, which will require the biggest change in how we build since the Second World War.
To drive this change, a new organisation called the Future Homes Hub has been set up to help bring the industry together to build the thousands of zero carbon homes that are needed. This organisation is being chaired by Barratt CEO David Thomas.
Zero carbon homes are not new, but building these homes at the scale required – for instance the 243,000 homes built over the last year – is complex and cannot be achieved by a single organisation. The whole sector has to come together to work with Government, to deliver these new homes.
We need to innovate and test low carbon technologies – settling the electric versus hydrogen debate – to find solutions that make being green easy, and cheap, for everyone. We need to have enough suppliers, with products such as air source heat pumps, available at the scale and price required to meet demand.
We need skilled technicians to install and maintain this technology.
And we need the electricity grid to be ready to take the strain, with the capacity to cope as we shift to electricity – electric cars, electric homes, electric businesses.
Perhaps most importantly, we need consumers to come on the journey too. Homes must be pleasant, comfortable places to live in.
They must be well designed, familiar and nature-friendly too. With the cost of living rising, energy efficiency has become a key driver for our customers.
We regularly conduct research with our customers and saving money on running costs was mentioned by one in five of those in the market for a new home. Meanwhile, 69 per cent of our customers cited sustainable features and cheaper household bills as important considerations for their new home.
Subscribe to The Big Issue
Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.
At Barratt we are currently building our first ever 100 per cent air source heat pump development near Frome.
But we must take the time to talk with customers who are perhaps unsure about buying a home without that familiar gas boiler.
Most consumers are unaware that gas boilers will be banned in new homes from 2025 as part of the new Future Homes Standard, and there is an urgent need to educate people about what is needed in a zero carbon world.
To help us on our own net zero journey last year we built the ‘Zed House’ with the University of Salford and 40 other industry partners.
This house is the first home in the country to be built by a major housebuilder that goes substantially beyond the Future Homes Standard delivering a carbon reduction of 125 per cent.
It has sustainable technology like an air source heat pump, solar panels, electric vehicle charging, and a wildlife- friendly garden (created through our partnership with the RSPB).
It also has infrared heating panels, plaster that eliminates pollutants, a fridge that keeps food fresh for longer, heated skirting boards and air-powered showers.
Not all of the technologies in the house will go into our future homes but this is an important first step to understand what works for consumers.
The house is being monitored to understand how people use zero carbon homes in practice and the learnings will help us build zero carbon homes for all our customers by 2030.
And taking this a step further still, at the moment we are building a complete home which will be tested in the University of Salford’s Energy House 2.0 laboratory, the biggest of its kind in the world.
This will test our home and its building methods in extreme hot (+40 degrees) and cold (-20 degrees) temperatures, helping us discover what works best for our customers.
By taking these steps we are working hard to establish what are the best new technologies of the future, to help bring our customers onto their own zero carbon journey.
Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.