Over the past two years the U.K. has adopted some relatively progressive policies to improve the energy efficiency of its housing stock and commercial buildings.
Wales set strict requirements for energy efficiency, water consumption, and use of sustainable materials. Britain’s Climate Change Act, passed into law in November 2008, requires that, beginning in 2016, new residential construction meet net-zero-energy standards. The British government approved plans for four “eco-towns,” and the UK Green Building Council, a government advisory group, suggested this week that the government seriously consider allowing each of Britain’s 7 million homeowners to borrow up to $17,000 for green retrofits and have the loan amount added to the homeowner’s local tax bill.
And now the city of London, which is preparing to play host to the Olympic Games and Paralympics Games in 2012, has taken an additional step to try to offset the inefficiencies of the homes in its 33 boroughs, about 60% of which were built before 1945. Through a $16 million initiative announced last week, the city will provide households with a number of free services, such as changeovers to energy efficient light bulb and light switches. The initiative also will subsidize more-costly, weatherizing improvements – such as the installation of wall and attic insulation – for homeowners able to pay for them, and to make those improvements available for free to low-income homeowners.
Another tool for emissions control
The London Development Agency, which oversees infrastructure maintenance, employment, and business development for the city, developed the plan. It will administer the initiative in collaboration with London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and other city agencies.
One key goal of the plan – among the largest of several designed to help Londoners trim energy usage – is to help reduce London’s carbon emissions by 60% by 2025, a target that is in line with the objectives of Britain’s Climate Change Act.
“Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing London’s economy,” the London Development Agency’s chief executive, Sir Peter Rogers, said in a press release announcing the measure. “This new scheme aims to make real cuts in carbon dioxide emissions for a cost-effective rate per ton of saved carbon. We have learned that this is best achieved by targeting particular areas and offering residents easy measures to implement.”