Green living policies are bypassing tower blocks

People who live in high rise estates are being sidelined by green policy measures despite huge potential for them to be at the forefront of this agenda.

According to a study from the Green Alliance, government-backed schemes which encourage energy and water saving, more sustainable transport and recycling, are mostly designed with individual, street level properties in mind.

By leaving tower blocks out of the equation, high rise residents unfairly miss out on the chance to reduce their energy bills and live greener lifestyles, the Towering ambitions report argues.

This is particularly remiss as the research highlights certain factors unique to high rise estates that could contribute to builder better, more sustainable communities.

The greatest potential for change is in addressing heating and energy challenges. The study cites examples where action has been taken by residents and housing providers to make their tower blocks greener places to live, but finds that these are rare cases.

However such initiatives could be mainstreamed if housing providers and energy companies worked together, using the forthcoming energy company obligation (ECO).

This, the report points out, would finance whole block retrofits as a cost-effective way for energy companies to meet their ECO targets and making retrofit more affordable for housing providers.

The Government should also set minimum energy efficiency standards for social housing and integrate tower blocks into its proposals for heat networks, it adds. This would explicitly encourage city decision makers to include them in their low carbon district heating plans.

Maxine Perella

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