Charting a path

Charting a path

Chris Chiles, Group CEO of Elivia Homes and Kamal Singh Grewal, group COO, discuss the challenges and opportunities for SMEs that Net Zero brings.

 The UK government has legislated to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and with the built environment accounting for more than 40% of carbon emissions, the residential property sector is firmly in the spotlight. Housebuilders of all sizes need to play their part, but SMEs can bring the innovation, agility and skill to be real trailblazers.

A recent survey by the House Builders Federation (HBF) showed that over a quarter of SMEs were already meeting new building regulations when they were introduced in June 2022. However, Elivia is part of a far smaller group, who can credibly claim they were building ahead of the standard.

But it is not without its challenges. 54% of respondents were still in the process of adapting to these regulatory standards and a further 5% said they would struggle to build to them. It is a timely reminder, says the HBF, that Government needs to work closely with industry to provide the support required to ensure a smooth transition to the Future Homes Standard in 2025.

We support industry calls for Government to bring forward the consultation on the technical specification of the Future Homes Standard to ensure companies have adequate time to prepare and adapt. Low and zero carbon technologies and modern methods of construction could also be more widely utilised if growth in the supply chain was facilitated. Such solutions could be far more economical to procure if the pool of suppliers who could credibly meet demand were expanded.

Government intervention could also accelerate the pace of change. If, for example, incentives were linked to the sustainability performance of a development, then SMEs could better afford to build greener. We’d like to see this taken further with government-backed green mortgage schemes, or additional Stamp Duty incentives linked to a home’s carbon performance, both of which could prove popular with homebuilders and homebuyers alike.

At Elivia Homes, we have a track record of piloting innovative Low and Zero Carbon (LZC) technologies and our new strategy will see us scale this further through a greater use of photovoltaic panels, wastewater heat recovery, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems.  We will begin offering electricity and heat storage technologies in anticipation of the 2025 Future Homes standard – lowering our customer’s bills and further reducing carbon emissions.

Given the scale of the UK’s retrofit challenge, new developments need to deliver world-leading standards of energy efficiency to create sustainable communities for future generations. SMEs are in prime position to take a lead role and make a meaningful contribution to this mission.

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