What is COP26?

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties - also known as COP26 - is a summit which brings together people from all over the world - including politicians, activists, and businesses - in order to tackle humanity’s biggest challenge: climate change.

Why is Habito getting involved?

When we became a B Corp, we made a legal commitment to put people and planet on the same level as profit. The most effective way to achieve that is by working together with other people who share that commitment - and where better to connect with those people than at COP26?

These are the goals for COP26, set out by the UN:

  • Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  • Mobilise finance
  • Work together to deliver

It turns out they align pretty perfectly with our own impact efforts: 

  • Reduce emissions from homes in the UK
  • Reach net zero emissions as a business by 2030
  • Develop a game-changing green mortgage product
  • Be an active member of the B Corp community 
  • Deliver the Better Business Act, of which we’re a signatory, to make businesses legally responsible for benefiting workers, customers, communities and the environment while delivering profit
  • Work with the Tech Zero coalition to reach net zero emissions as a nation by 2050

Our manifesto - Awareness, Action, Affordability

As members of the B Corp Finance & Investment Working Group coming together at COP26, we are asking all our fellow attendees - and the financial sector as a whole - to make a commitment:

  1. Raise public awareness of the link between financial decision-making and the environment. Our investments, borrowings and even our homes have a huge and lasting impact on the net zero future of the UK and globally. We are collectively committed to ensuring that the impact agenda is front and centre in our communications with government decision-makers, shareholders, investors, customers and our people.

  2. We will help people take action through practical, jargon-free advice to help them better understand the impact of their financial decision making. We will make information transparent, switching easy and investing in the right products at the heart of our businesses. We will relentlessly seek to innovate to preserve the planet in a way that captures imaginations and makes change possible for everyone.

  3. We are committed to making being impact-aware affordable for everyone. For too long there has been a “green premium” from electric cars to eco washing powder. As the finance group we are responsible for some of the biggest financial decisions people will make. There should be no significant premium or penalty for saving the planet and it should not be the preserve of the rich or the super-fans.

For Habito, that looks like this:

Raising awareness of EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ratings 

What are they?

The EPC is the only measure - available today - of a property’s energy efficiency. The document includes estimated energy costs, as well as a summary of the property’s energy performance-related features and is needed whenever a property is bought, rented or built and is valid for 10 years.

But awareness is low - 42% of Britons say they have never heard of an EPC, and a further 41% know what an EPC is but don’t know their home’s rating.

How do I find mine? 

You can find your home’s EPC rating - as well as recommended improvements, and your property’s potential EPC rating once those changes have been made -  here.

All you need to get started is your postcode.

Why do they matter?

Our homes are not very energy efficient. In the UK, 35.6% of our housing stock predates WWII and these older homes require more energy to keep warm and cosy - that’s bad for the environment and bad for your pocket too. 

In fact, the residential sector accounts for 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and the government is on a mission to reduce that by making our aging housing stock more energy efficient, with all homes having an EPC rating of C or above.

It’s important to know what your EPC rating is, so that you can find out how to improve it and how to make those changes in the most cost-efficient way. That’s where we come in.

[link to full article about our EPC research once live]

Helping people take action to improve their home’s EPC rating in a meaningful way

One way that we plan to help people improve their EPC rating is through doing what we do best: providing practical, jargon-free advice for free.  

We’re changing the way that we work in order to make sure that we surface all available green mortgages for our customers. Whether you’re buying a new home or remortgaging, we’ll make sure you’re aware of all your options and help you decide which one’s right for you.

We’re also compiling a library of information on eco-friendly home renovations. You can read up on different ways to improve your EPC rating by making your home more energy-efficient (and cheaper to run) here.

Making it affordable to improve your EPC rating and make your home more environmentally-friendly

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has just announced a new initiative that would see mortgage lenders use EPC data to make lending decisions in favour of more energy-efficient homes. So clearly, it pays to go green - and EPCs are only going to get more important.

But, given that 59% of homes in the UK have an EPC rating of D rating or below, and the average cost of moving from a D to a C EPC rating is about £6,155, taking your home’s efficiency to the next level is not going to be cheap. 

For too long, sustainable products and services have carried a green premium, leaving them out of reach of the average homeowner. That’s why the finance industry needs to come up with innovative products that incentivise eco-refurbishments, like green mortgages. 

Four in five (81%) mortgage-holders in the UK don’t know what a green mortgage is. But when explained, 87% said they would be interested in a green mortgage, if it were competitively-priced and suitable for their needs.  

We’re working on securing a funding partner to develop the next generation of competitively-priced green mortgages, where your mortgage rate improves in line with the sustainable home improvements you make to boost your home’s EPC rating. 

Potential funding partners can get in touch on [email protected] to discuss developing unique, innovative green mortgage products and services.

What does the future hold?

Our CEO, Dan, puts it best:

“Our analysis tells us that if everyone with a D rated property moved to a C rating, we could reduce CO2 emissions in England and Wales by more than 5 million tonnes, equivalent to 6% of all household emissions annually.”

That’s a significant step towards our 2050 net zero emissions target. And it’s something that we - industry, government, and individual homeowners - can work on together.

We’ll report back after COP26 and, in the meantime, keep fighting the good fight to make EPC ratings a viable dinner party conversation topic.