Our homes are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to energy consumption – using around 35% of all energy in the UK and emitting a fifth of carbon dioxide emissions. Taking measures now to fix our draughty homes would put the UK on track to meet its climate change targets, creating up to half a million new jobs and improving the nation’s energy security.
So what would a green recovery look like and how could Hertfordshire residents and businesses benefit? Retrofit is a word that’s being used more and more often, especially when people are talking about how to reduce energy usage and the carbon footprint of our homes and commercial premises. This term simply refers to the process of making changes to existing buildings so that energy consumption and emissions are reduced. These changes also provide the benefit of a more comfortable, healthier living environment with lower fuel bills, giving home-owners more disposable income.
We know only too well the impact that poor internal air quality has on health – often affecting the poorest in our communities and putting an additional burden on the NHS. Taking action now to help fix our homes, some of the leakiest in Europe, would help tackle health inequality and put more money in the public and individual homeowners’ purse.
With retrofit comes wider socio-economic benefits and the opportunity to upskill and retrain. Thousands of new jobs will be needed if the retrofit industry is able to keep pace with demand to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2050. Currently a lack of necessary skills risks creating a bottleneck, significantly reducing delivery potential.
In order to redress this construction and training sectors are working together to create new technical education pathways for school leavers and adult learners and investing in new training programmes. Similarly, workers can be given the opportunity to upskill in new retrofit technologies and processes and more young people and adults can be encouraged to train or retrain in green retrofit technologies.
General trades – such as gas engineers, electricians, window fitters, plasterer/renderers, carpenters, builders – have a major part to play in the green revolution.
Part of my role as Clean Growth Manager is to drive engagement between education and enterprise to encourage and expand green skills and retrofit development. By working closely with local authorities, housing associations, our four FE colleges, University of Hertfordshire and government retrofit delivery agents, Hertfordshire LEP is helping to ensure local domestic retrofit supply businesses are ready to meet demand while reducing barriers to retrofit uptake and delivery (such as consumer trust and confidence, trader quality and governance).
Over the next couple of months we will be running events for both training providers and supply chain businesses to raise awareness of both the scale of the retrofit challenge and the opportunities.
Businesses seeking further information and advice about retrofit should contact Hertfordshire Growth Hub (www.hertsgrowthhub.com) or please drop me a line.