I don’t need to tell you how chilly it’s been the last few days. It’s that time of year when an extra pair of socks are needed around the house, never mind stepping outside!
The first big job I have in the New Year is to chair a sub group of councillors from across North Tyneside to look into the concept of ‘Retrofitting’ buildings. Earlier this month we had our first meeting to agree the scope of our project and I’m quite excited about how it’s shaping up.
At the root of the problem is the fact that the buildings we inhabit, as homes and as workplaces, simply weren’t built with energy efficiency in mind. This doesn’t just apply to the past when coal was a cheap and plentiful source of fuel, it’s a very current issue too, with developers right now putting profits before planet by building and selling homes that are nowhere near as energy efficient as they could be or should be.
The more expensive fuel becomes, the more we feel the pinch in our pockets. For every pound spent heating a draughty, poorly insulated home about 30p goes straight up the proverbial chimney. It's a big problem in our area, in which 40% of homes don't even meet EPC level C.
Our group will be taking evidence from a wide range of people. We’ll talk to people from across the Council, the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the LEP. We’ll talk to industry representatives, training providers and a range of sectoral experts. We’ll explore:
- what work needs to be done
- how we develop the skills pipeline to deliver at scale, and
- how to manage the cost-benefit equation
Ultimately I hope that the work we do serves as a stimulus for action in this important area that has been somewhat ignored over the last few years. If we get it right we could bring about changes that will not only deliver warmer homes, but cheaper bills, hundreds of new jobs, and a reduction in North Tyneside’s overall carbon footprint.
What’s not to like about that?! 😀