NatWest Group launches ‘Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition’

NatWest Group launches a ‘Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition’, with British Gas, Worcester Bosch, and Shelter, to improve UK buildings energy efficiency, and to address the key blockers to meeting net zero in the UK buildings environment. Citizens Advice will act in an advisory capacity to the Coalition on the needs of, and challenges faced by consumers in the transition to net zero.

NatWest Group and its coalition partners are today announcing the launch of a cross-sector coalition seeking a just green buildings transition in the United Kingdom, ensuring both environmental and social outcomes are considered. The Coalition aims to:

  1. raise awareness about what a move towards a Net Zero economy means for building owners and tenants/occupiers; 
  2. understand the choices they have to decarbonise their homes and commercial buildings; 
  3. provide practical advice to building owners and tenants/occupiers about how to do this.

The ‘Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition’ will be run by NatWest Group, with British Gas, Worcester Bosch, and Shelter already on board. NatWest Group expects to scale the Coalition still further with other representatives from industry.

Recent research conducted by NatWest Group and IHS Markit shows that, of the factors surveyed, consumers placed EPC rating as the third least important factor they considered when they last bought a home and more than a quarter  of homeowners had no plans to make environmental sustainability improvements to their home over the next ten years * . Respondents cited cost as the greatest barrier to them making such improvements, which highlights the urgency and need for awareness raising of the choices consumers will have to face, steps they can take, and costs and benefits to decarbonising energy in their homes. NatWest Group will shortly launch a new Sustainable Housing Quarterly Index to track consumer attitudes to addressing the sustainability of their homes and awareness of necessary actions to meet net zero in the built environment.

Seed funding invested by NatWest Group, alongside working with the Coalition, will be used to do three things – conduct research and map customer journeys to decarbonising their homes, recognising that solutions need to be accessible to all; support promising energy efficiency start-ups and SMEs to scale; and accelerate the collaborative development of financial products which consumers can access, understand and use. 

NatWest Group will use COP26 as a platform to bring together the Coalition, showcase progress on its areas of focus and ensure the opportunities and challenges of energy efficiency are fully understood and heard. 

Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group, said: “Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and for NatWest Group it is central to our purpose-led strategy.  By supporting the creation of more sustainable homes, communities, and workplaces we can help people, families, and businesses to thrive.  Unless and until we deal with the carbon contribution of the buildings we live, work, and play in, net zero will remain a pipedream. And this can only be done by and not to people. We will play our part in providing a voice, a platform and a helping hand to SMEs and individuals with big ideas to improve their lives and livelihoods.

As the principal banking sponsor supporting COP26 in Glasgow later this year, we’re continually looking at ways to make a difference to this agenda. With the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition, we will showcase how energy efficiency can make sense for the planet and the wallet, helping our customers and communities get involved and make a difference”.  

Matthew Bateman, Managing Director, British Gas Services & Solutions said: “As an energy services and solutions company we have a big role to play in helping our customers transition to a lower carbon future, whether that be through our home energy management solutions, such as heat pumps and EV charging, which are all controlled via the Hive app, or making changes to improve the energy efficiency of their home.

“Being part of the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition is an important step in working together to make the transition fair and achievable for all, whether that be residential or SME or large business customers. Towards this we have committed as a business to be net zero by 2045 and help our customers reach that same milestone by 2050.”

Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, said: “At Worcester Bosch we are committed to working with the government, industry, and homeowners to ensure net zero targets are reached by applying the suitable technologies in every situation.

This is why we have pledged our name to the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition. We believe this will help us to continue leading the way for the development of future heating technologies, such as hydrogen, while maintaining the use of alternative solutions such as heat pumps and hybrids in the relevant settings. Net zero 2050 approaches quickly, however we are confident the target can be met when the government, industry, and customer collaborate.”

In parallel to this initiative, NatWest Group and its partners will work with the Government to create the conditions to accelerate meaningful change in the buildings sector. This includes: 

  • Clear direction on the policy framework to drive decarbonisation in the building sector, akin to those seen in the motor industry.
  • A stable framework of financial incentives to support building owners and consumers with the upfront costs needed to make energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heating upgrades.
  • Further clarity and heightened awareness measures to drive public education and engagement.
  • Policy design allowing the supply chain to scale and deliver high quality upgrades at pace.

 

* Recent research conducted by NatWest Group and IHS Markit on 3,000 UK individuals between May and June 2021 shows that 20% of homeowners (either own outright or buying with a mortgage) who moved into their property since 2016 that said Energy Performance Certificate rating (EPC rating) was ‘very important’ when they selected the property, the third lowest across the 12 factors surveyed: ‘cost of property’, ‘features of property’, ‘property location’, ‘internet speed’, ‘risk of flooding’, ‘access to public transport’, ‘amount of local green space’, ‘levels of noise

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