Climate change, global warming and its effects are front and centre with everyone talking about it.
There are two elements to this: Firstly, politics and protest, and secondly, what our planet is actually telling us.
The one which worries me and my children the most is the latter – we have had three all-time heatwave records broken over the same number of months this year, flooding is everywhere, whether that is a dam about to burst its banks near Manchester or the Bahamas, which has been all-but destroyed by the second biggest hurricane ever recorded.
Meanwhile, wild fires rage in different parts of the world destroying natural resources and human structures. I could also mention the ice caps and plastic pollution…
So are we bothered and what are we doing about it? Everyone I meet with are really bothered and vigorously agree we need to do everything we can to slow down global warming and its effects.
If this is a shared view, then what are we doing about it and about housing in particular? Well, there is some really good work being done right across the housing sector. Despite having to twist and turn in the recent past due to political policy priorities (or not), we all care. But we need to do more and really get climate change into the ‘DNA’ of what we do as other sectors and businesses are starting to do.
There are more than 4 million social rented homes across England, so just consider what the carbon footprint is of all these? Not only to build, but also to maintain and live in? Can our homes and their occupants really stand up to sustained increases in average temperatures and flooding?
How many of our fleet vehicles are at least hybrid? What is the carbon footprint of our businesses and what are we really doing to reduce it? Do our customers know that we care about climate change? What would they have us do?
So as a sector we are bothered. We have done some good work by making homes more energy efficient through for example better construction, better insulation and by creating alternative power and heat source generation through photovoltaic installations and renewable technologies. But we can and need to do more – key to this will be how embedded climate change will become into our DNA and subconscious thinking.