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News & opinion

21 OCT 2021

RICS response to UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy

This week the UK Government published its Net Zero Strategy and its Heat & Buildings Strategy. As the government rightly highlights, heating homes and workplaces accounts for a significant proportion of the UK’s carbon emissions, so RICS are supportive of proposals to encourage low carbon heating. We recognise that domestic heating will be an important factor in the UK’s efforts to reach net zero by 2050. Nevertheless, the scale of energy efficiency improvements that will be required across the UK’s housing and building stock over the coming decade will be considerable.  

Key to unlocking the transition to net zero is stimulating a green retrofitting revolution as RICS highlighted in our Retrofitting to decarbonise policy paper last year. While we welcome both of the strategies published by the Government this week, we believe that a broader range of retrofitting should be incentivised with potential financial levers considered, such as a temporary reduction in VAT on home improvement works.

It is vital that the heat pump fund that has been announced will have a positive impact and that it acts as a financial incentive for consumers in practice. The heat pump grant is only likely to be efficient, however, if it is tied in with wider home energy efficiency improvements. Earlier this year RICS published a Reducing Carbon in the Home guide – a clear, impartial guide that sets out the practical steps that consumers can take to reduce their household emissions, as well as information on the more extensive retrofitting work where consumers can seek professional advice, including from our members. We expect that there will be a growth in demand for retrofit assessors and enhanced energy performance reports on homes over the coming years too – something which our RICS new Home Survey Standard could help in supporting.

We recognise that mortgage lenders can play an influential role in creating greener homes too.  We are currently engaged with government and various lenders to discuss the role green mortgages will have on property valuations in the future. It is important that any system that is created does not price people out of buying a home. We are also consulting on an update to our Red Book which expands on the role of ESG and sustainability in valuations – something that will support a greener housing market in the future. Over the last year RICS has also been developing a new Global Guidance Note: Sustainability and ESG in commercial property valuation and strategic advice.

The expertise and insight of the surveying profession will continue to play an important role in efforts to decarbonise the built environment, and RICS will continue to work constructively with the government in support of its net zero ambitions.