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Midlands retrofit summit paves the way for greener future

Published date : 23 November 2011

Leading housing specialists have come together to discuss how the West Midlands can bring up to £2bn a year into the economy from the growing housing ‘retrofit’ market.

Housing retrofit project at Clay Street, Penkridge in Stafford

Housing retrofit project at Clay Street, Penkridge in Stafford

In the week that David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced the government’s new housing strategy, over 100 delegates attended the Retrofit Summit at Austin Court in Birmingham, organised by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), SHAP (Sustainable Housing Action Partnership) and West Midlands Councils.

The conference sought to bring local authorities and registered providers together to initiate action to maximise the investment opportunities from ‘retrofitting’ existing homes with energy efficient technology on a large scale. This could be worth up to £2bn per annum to the local economy as well as making a massive contribution to the UK’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.

As a result of the summit, a West Midlands Retrofit steering group will be launched in the New Year to maximise opportunities from the Government’s Green Deal, and smaller local groups will be working closely with all the Local Enterprise Partnerships to ensure the business community is aligned with plans.

Amongst the attendees were local authority Chief Executives and Directors of Finance, Local Enterprise Partnership members, together with social housing provider Chief Executives.

Anne-Marie Simpson, Head of Midlands Central for the HCA, said:

“Construction is a major driver for the economy, with every £1 invested in the sector generating £2.84 in total economic activity, so maximising investment in the region around the housing retrofit agenda will correlate to improving growth and job opportunities.

“As well as the economic benefits, it is just as important to consider the social and environmental benefits of preparing for the forthcoming Green Deal – which will revolutionise the speed and scale of delivery of energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings. In the long term, for example, this could make an important contribution to levelling out the life expectancy imbalance across the Midlands as a result of better living conditions.”

Alan Yates, from SHAP, said:

“Although whole house retrofit will reduce carbon emissions and fuel poverty, there is a massive opportunity to realise other benefits in terms of reduced costs and economic growth to be realised through this initiative.”

George Marsh from Sustainability West Midlands, who chaired the summit, added:

“The Midlands is already leading in this area with the success of Birmingham Energy Savers and this sumitt called upon other local authorities and partners to seize this opportunity.”

Rose Poulter, Director, West Midlands Councils, offered a local authority perspective:

“Councils across the West Midlands are already actively exploring how they can bring the opportunities presented by Green Deal directly to their communities.”

There are around 26 million dwellings in the UK, which account for account for 27% of all UK CO2 emissions. The target in the government’s Energy Bill is to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% by 2027 and 80% by 2050.

The retrofit sector’s value is estimated at an additional £15 billion per annum to the UK, which is 10% of construction market.  There are 2.3 million homes in the West Midlands, most of which will need to be retrofitted to become more energy efficient to meet the Government’s 2050 target.

Read the presentations from the event.

Ends

 

For more information contact Ian Dutton, HCA, 0121 234 9992, ian.dutton@hca.gsx.gov.uk

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