What I want for London: more efficient buildings

London, Canary Wharf (blue hour)This week we published Greener London, with eight other leading environment groups, setting out 20 practical actions for the next mayor of London. Tomorrow, mayoral candidates will be quizzed by Londoners at our Greener London hustings. 

We’ve asked people working at organisations active in the city to tell us the one thing they want for a greener London. Today’s post is by Sarah Williams of the Aldersgate Group.

  1. What do you like about London?

I love living in London because of its vibrancy and variety – particularly its theatres, museums and restaurants. The view walking over Waterloo Bridge is my favourite with its balance of old and new.

  1. What’s the one thing you’d do to create a greener London?

I would maximise the efficiency of London’s buildings – through energy efficiency measures such as insulation, more efficient boilers, efficient lighting via LEDs and water efficiency measures. Zero carbon standards should be applied to new builds in the capital and retrofitting older housing stock is crucial. More focus is needed on the properties that have received few improvements so far owing to their complexity, such as blocks of flats and the private rented sector. Minimum energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector come into force from April 2018 but, as measures must not produce upfront costs to the landlord, support mechanisms for their installation will be required. The next mayor must press government for a robust replacement for the cancelled Green Deal, which could use incentives such as council tax and stamp duty relief.

  1. How would it change the city?

London’s housing stock will become more resilient. The age profile of homes in London is a challenge: more than half of homes in the private rented sector were built before 1965, and a third were built before 1919. Homes and workplaces currently account for around 78 per cent of London’s CO2 emissions and building more homes is a central pledge for all the mayoral candidates.

  1. Why’s it such a good idea?

Houses become more comfortable and cheaper to run – delivering lower bills for families, helping tackle fuel poverty and addressing health risks associated with cold homes. Energy efficiency measures will help reduce demand for electricity, lower carbon emissions and can also drive economic growth and create jobs.

  1. What is your favourite green spot in the city?

I am lucky to live a minute’s walk away from Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets. It has a more formal west end, with boating lake and Chinese Pagoda, and an open and expansive east side where it is easy to forget that you’re in London if it wasn’t for the Shard materialising in the skyline. I’d recommend cycling round the full circuit.

The Greener London hustings is now full but you can watch it on our livestream from 5pm on Friday 4 March and join the discussion at #greenerlondon.

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