Persuading future MPs to develop a national strategy to improve the energy and water efficiency of the UK’s 25m existing homes will be crucial for consumer protection, the building industry has said.

The watchdog body Ofgem estimates hundreds of thousands of homes that have had cavity wall insulation fitted under government backed green energy schemes have failed.

The Chartered Institute of Building, CIOB, has launched a pre-election manifesto to educate prospective MPs in the run-up to the general election on how to improve Britain’s homes.

CIOB chief executive Caroline Gumble said: “Candidates come from a range of backgrounds and don’t always understand the complexities and importance of the built environment sector, which is a major economic driver so it’s down to us all as the experts to educate them.

“It’s important they know what support is needed to enable the industry to play its part in creating a safe and sustainable built environment for everyone.”

The manifesto coincides with stories in the media this week about poor cavity-wall insulation resulting in severe mould problems.

Renovation passports would give consumers a clear insight

Trade bodies such as the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Builders, NFB, have been calling on the government to offer building renovation passports to consumers.

This would provide a digital logbook of renovations at the property level with historical and contemporary information.

NFB policy and market insight head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “This would offer occupants and building owners a clear roadmap to retrofitting and better inform government and innovators of the challenges faced in retrofitting all UK buildings.

“It would also give an opportunity for poor workmanship to be reported by industry peers and dangerous recalled products, such as fuse box components, to be tracked.”

CIOB policy and public affairs manager David Barnes said that successive governments had often opted for short-term energy improvement fixes, such as the green homes grants, which hadn’t always worked.

“You get businesses jumping up with lots of them going where the money is but there are inherent risks in this.”

The CIOB manifesto has stressed that a national retrofit strategy is key to any future government’s success in achieving net zero and improving the quality of homes.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said that development finance lenders supported the idea of national retrofit strategy as this would give SME builders the confidence to diversify into the retrofit sector.

Mr Barnes said there was a need for mandatory accreditation for installers of energy-saving improvements such as insulation, solar panels, and heat pumps.

“Anyone can become a builder in the UK. We don’t have the same policing that happens in lots of European countries such as Germany, for example.”

There is a national retrofit standard called PAS 2035 but it’s currently only mandatory for publicly funded energy improvement projects.

The CIOB estimates 500,000 extra skilled workers are needed to bring the UK’s national housing stock up to an energy efficiency performance level of C by 2030.

Their manifesto calls for a future government to set up a green skills fund dedicated to developing a pipeline of workers trained in retrofit coordination and heat pump installation.

This fund could also train people in modern methods of construction and cover specialist roles such as ecologists required to advise on the biodiversity net gain of new housing developments. It would also offer training for new entrants through apprenticeships as well as upskilling the existing workforce.

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