An introduction from Nicholas Harris, Chief Executive

It’s rare to hear anything positive related to the coronavirus pandemic or the impacts it’s having across the globe – but there is perhaps one exception, in the form of our environment. The huge restrictions on travel, the shutdown of business and the fall in demand for oil have all contributed to a significant reduction in pollution and emissions across continents. Already, the air is purer, wildlife is flourishing and rivers are cleaner.

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Earlier this month, Carbon Brief predicted that Coronavirus was set to result in the largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions, with the disruption in energy use alone reducing emissions by an estimated 5% of 2019’s global total.

In line with our ‘ethical’ values at Stonewater, we have already made a range of environmental commitments and are keen to expand on our green agenda. In a post-pandemic world, we (and many other businesses) have the opportunity to learn from experience and I believe that pursuing ‘earth friendly’ and sustainable solutions will become more important than ever - it’s something we feel very passionately about.

Making the UK’s housing stock fit for the future will have a major role in reducing emissions and helping the UK government meet its net zero target on CO2. We want to play an active part in leading this for the sector and have commissioned the Institute of Public and Policy Research (a leading independent ‘think tank’) to produce a report which will set out the ambitious but practical steps required to develop a large-scale, national low-carbon heating retro-fitting programme.

Sponsoring IPPR’s research aligns Stonewater’s thought-leader work with the need to solve the fundamental issue of how we decarbonise our housing stock. And we hope it will also highlight how this can be part of the economic recovery from Covid-19, providing jobs, investment, support for new technologies and sustainability, whilst seeking to address the fuel poverty crisis.

The final report will lay out key actions the government can take, in terms of policy, finance, logistics, to support a national programme of retrofitting, providing guidance to the sector on how to do this at scale, and in a manner that is socially and economically viable.

Over the last few months through a series of ‘virtual’ stakeholder and customer webinars, we’ve secured evidence from specialists and other stakeholders to help shape this important work.

The full report will be launched July 15 and we’re really excited to see the roadmap and recommendations on tackling this critical issue facing the whole social housing sector and beyond. The UK’s ability to achieve net zero depends on it, and here at Stonewater we’re really pleased that we’ll be playing our part in the challenge ahead.