Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Joined up at the HIPS?

Today sees the Home Information Packs kick in, and the Housing Minister is on BBC Breakfast to explain why they are 'dead good'.

I sent in the following questions which, if asked, the BBC editors will hopefully not 'enhance for greater truth' this time:

1) If this is largely to address environmental impacts and not a social penalty, what is the proportion of 4+ bedroom houses as a % of the total, energy consuming housing market?

2) If older properties are inevitably going to be less 'efficient', is this grading just to enable market force choices, or is there an intention to use this information as a factor in future levies imposed by central and/or local government on the householder?

3) Are issues such as risk of flooding included as this would obviously represent a huge negative in terms of protections and/or clear ups with new builds no matter how eco?

These are, as stated, questions, but they do raise certain issues.

I suspect that the of 4+ housing I am asking for is not that high, and hence one wonders what impact targeting this sector will have on the planet.

Then there is the actual use of this rating system. I can get my head around one on a fridge, but a house? Choosing a white box that keeps things cold is pretty much just down to the op costs... to me at least. But if I fall in love with a property am I really going to reject that stone cottage (on a hill, 'cos the old folks figured that living where it gets wet is daft) and buy that 90's newbuild (on a flood plain, 'cos all that is left) because it is a few ratings lower? I doubt it. And hence one wonders what value this information ultimately has, and to whom?

And speaking of (well alluding to) those who would use green as a stealthy way to tax us without much explanation as to how those taxes get ploughed back, I do finally wonder if other environmental issues such as being built on a flood plain will score badly. Versus the lack of a cavity wall, one can only imagine that digging up the floors of a soaked property and renovating the whole thing will not offer the greatest global enviROI.

But maybe it's more a matter of boxes being ticked and grabbing some quick green dosh?

I just watched (How street cred is she? All bob and yoof speak!!?) and there was a bunch of... nothing. The key questions (just one was asked - nice one, BBC! I have to share this I read on a less than favourable blog as to their abilities: 'Double standards but half the quality') were almost all avoided or 'future mysteries' alluded to without being tasked to actually answer.

Indy - How ministers turned a help into a hindrance - like everything else they touch
Guardian - Home information packs are dealt new blow by lenders - Hmnnn


Dave said...

Good questions! Did you get any answers?

According to the Greens, the entire HIPS affair has been grossly mismanaged.

They do make one extremely valid point; HIPS are required to include an energy performance certificate, which details how energy efficient (or not) a property is. If HIPS was rolled out across the entire housing market, then we would all know just how much investment would be required to bring UK housing up to the sustainability scratch mark.

As things stand, less than one fifth of houses will require HIPS, and hence, energy performance certificates.

Methinks our beloved government just doesn't really want to know what the extent of the problem is. Perhaps they're scared witless that they might have to hand out a few 100 million in insulation grants?

Peter said...


As mentioned one (count the... it) that was in the area of the first got asked, and then allowed to be fudged.

The blonde and bouffant certainly were aggressive in throwing out the 'some say this is a mess' mantra, but this just allowed the Browne Babe to fudge on why they might feel that way rather than actually getting to any answers that mattered. Not for the first time I despaired at the calibre of our leaders, and those tasked (in the case of the BBC, paid) to hold them to account.

ps: To scare anything from an entity rather presupposes they have any of it to lose.

Frankly, why would anyone on the public payroll be worried about anything any more? They can pretty much do whatever the want, and foul up to the nines, and either get off scott free and/or be promoted. If you can't lose money or career, why worry about serving others as opposed to yourself?