Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The future's green

(Black Country Housing Group is one of my PR clients.)

Richard Baines, Director of Sustainable Development at BCHG, was quoted in The Guardian today talking about how the fitting, maintenance and development of green technologies in housing presents an opportunity to create a sustainable (in both senses of the word) industry. He is right.

As the car manufacturing and construction sectors grind to a halt thousands of skilled workers are coming onto the jobs market while housing associations (pretty much the only organisations currently building homes) need contractors who are able to install eco-measures such as solar panels and air source heat pumps.

Investment in training and developing people in this area would benefit not only the economy by providing employment, but also the community (and the planet) by reducing carbon emissions and domestic fuel consumption.

BCHG recognises that green technologies should not just be confined to newbuild homes (also see this Twitter conversation between David Mills, Media and Communications Manager at a prominent housing association, and I). In fact a whole industry can be built on retro-fitting bio-mass boilers, insulation and the like, to older homes.

PR and communications have a major role to play in creating support for this burgeoning industry as well as ensuring tenants, staff and partners are kept updated on how they can use eco-measures to reduce their carbon footprint, tackle fuel poverty and save money.

David Strong, Chief Executive of Inbuilt, in this blog, makes the point that behavioural change must form part of the Government's Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, if measures such as investing in developing eco-exemplar affordable housing schemes are going to have an impact. Clearly this is true, but I feel this is already happening.

Even as recent as ten years ago, most people weren't aware of the need to avoid using plastic bags wherever possible or to recycle everything they can, but these messages have been broadcast by the media - and gradually these small acts have become part of our everyday culture.

The social housing sector is in a strong position to disseminate clear and compelling messages to convince the Government, tenants and stakeholders that green technologies offer opportunities for employment, as well as making the world a better place.

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