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How the US gets ahead on green homes while the UK is behind




U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have recently expressed their commitment to meeting ambitious new emissions targets by 2050. But at least one of the emission-problem homes is heading in the other direction.

At the end of March, British authorities resigned from expanding the UK’s inventory of green homes after canceling massive subsidies for homeowners seeking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

A few days later, the Biden administration announced plans for a U.S. infrastructure upgrade that included hundreds of billions of dollars in the planned U.S. jobs plan for the upgrade and construction of energy-efficient homes that could radically reshape currently managed cost considerations in the medium term. Construction of new homes and energy upgrades for existing homes.

Experts say that housing efficiency is an important but achievable part of controlling emissions to achieve agreed-upon goals.

In some ways, the United States is ahead, and on the other hand, compared to other European countries, it has a lot to catch up with, said Lauren Urbanek, chief energy policy advocate for the Natural Resources Conservation Commission. To achieve one of the 2050 carbon targets, you will have to deal with large-scale buildings, especially existing ones.

Heating, cooling, and lighting in residential buildings now account for about a fifth of all U.S. carbon emissions. Biden’s plan calls for $231 billion to build, preserve, and renovate more than 2 million energy-efficient homes, meaning homes that use less energy than they produce and are sometimes labeled “net zero carbon.”

As is the case with many European countries such as the Netherlands, the strong lack of consumer demand in both countries for energy-efficient homes remains a problem.

Local authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom also maintain very different standards and requirements regarding energy efficiency in the residential sector, making it difficult for large corporations to find national economies of scale in new projects or renovation efforts. Replace gas boilers for heat pumps, add solar panels or install better insulation in old houses, etc.

However, according to Julian Brooks, program director of the UK campaign group Good Homes Alliance, it will help to quickly improve technologies such as underground heat pumps that can cool and heat a home as part of the cost of an existing gas-fired furnace. However, homeowners must have the money to buy a home and have the personnel to install the home.

Just as solar installation efforts can use government subsidies to expand workforce as costs decrease, advocates say similar dynamics are needed to improve home efficiency. The mantra that improving infrastructure and developing the environment goes hand in hand with job creation has already been eagerly adopted by the Biden administration, but not by British policy makers.

According to calculations by British civil engineer and founder Russell Smith, there is currently a shortage of about 400,000 workers trained to renovate tens of millions of existing residences, meeting the zero carbon standard. RetrofitWorks, a non-profit that aims to create a small business hub to tackle this problem.

That’s definitely a problem, Smith said. We are not getting incentives from the government to do things the right way to minimize the climate change impacts caused by housing.

But the Biden administration plans to put cash in the green housing sector to change this by incentivizing U.S. businesses to tackle immediate problems such as shortages of skilled workers and limited green supply chains, experts say.

The government is starting to move in the right direction,” Brooks said. But when it comes to the energy efficiency of homes, he added that progress has stalled too much compared to some European countries.

He added that UK plans to address residential emissions will not be as ambitious as necessary for a climate emergency.

In the UK, the current government’s recent reluctance to subsidize home energy efficiency measures has created new barriers to development, and in the United States, it means that the Trump administration has almost completely abandoned its emission targets through withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Now the floor should be made.

The scope and scale of the problem has only increased, Urbanek said of the challenges faced by policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic. It takes some courage from a politician.

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