British Gas paints the streets green

British Gas has warned of the dangers of missing CO2 reduction targets and warned that ‘homes of the future’ could undermine efforts to reduce emissions.

Launching Green Streets, a year-long energy saving challenge, British Gas called for more attention to be paid to existing homes which will contribute the vast majority of emissions in the coming years. Projections show that by 2050 only 22 per cent of homes will have been built after 2006.

New data also revealed London as the least green city with Kingston upon Thames as the most wasteful borough. Hull was top of the league for energy saving.

‘For every £3 we spend heating our homes £1 is wasted because of poor insulation,’ said Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas. ‘And whilst strict standards on new build are needed, most of the energy being consumed is in the ageing homes we live in today. It is making changes in these properties that will give us the biggest carbon emission reductions. I am confident that the Green Streets campaign will show that simple changes can be made to adapt existing homes to help address this problem.’

Green streets has selected eight households in each of the Green Streets located in Manchester, Leeds, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Plymouth and Southampton, to take part in the challenge. Each street will be given a budget of £30,000 to spend on energy saving equipment and will compete to drive their CO2 emissions down the most. The winning households will be awarded with £50,000 worth of energy saving equipment to invest in a local community project.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) will independently observe the households and draw policy lessons from the experiment.

‘Industry and government must learn how to encourage all of us to become more energy efficient in our existing homes,’ added Matthew Lockwood, senior research fellow for climate change at IPPR. ‘While building legislation has a role, making really big cuts in household emissions means unleashing people’s imagination and motivation.’