First movers take up green retrofit challenge

12 March 2010

Contractors Kier Group and Rok are first off the blocks to enter the £28bn market for retrofitting the UK’s existing housing stock of 26 million homes, Construction News reported.

Kier, which manages a social housing portfolio of 240 000 homes, is exploring ways of retrofitting its own stock and is in talks with several companies about implementing refurbishing schemes using Pay As You Save ‘green mortgages’.

The ‘Warm Homes, Greener Homes’ strategy, unveiled by the Department for Energy and Climate Change last week, revealed Labour's plans to introduce Pay As You Save ‘green mortgages’ that could be fixed against properties rather than individuals.

Announcing its annual results, Rok also revealed that it is conducting a trial with B&Q where homeowners can obtain long-term interest-free loans to retrofit their homes to higher green standards. 

A £1m pot of cash has been allocated for the Rok pilot scheme, with about £10,000 expected to be spent on each home. Work on the trial, retrofitting properties throughout the London borough of Sutton, will start next week.

Rok chief executive Garvis Snook told Construction News: “B&Q has created a store where customers can come in and discuss their options, whether they are eligible for a grant or they can take out a loan.

“They are the interface with the customer and we will be fitting the B&Q products, much as we already do with their kitchens and bathrooms.

“We are also in talks with other companies in this arena. It is an area we are investing in heavily at the moment.”

Building reported that the government held talks with German infrastructure bank KfW, a state bank set up after the war, to discuss how the bank managed to organise 200,000 green refurbishments a year in Germany.

KfW offers reduced rate loans to householders who carry out upgrades to certain standards. It raises money privately but is backed by the German exchequer, so is able to borrow cheaply.

The bank claims to have permanently reduced Germany’s annual carbon emissions by 2.2 million tonnes since 2006, and created between 180 000 and 220 000 jobs a year.

Ian Pearson, economic secretary to the Treasury, told Building: “We’ve certainly looked at the KfW model. What we need though is something appropriate to the UK.”


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