In partnership with Fusion21 - Buy Smarter Theatre

60 seconds with… Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of UK Green Building Council

We ask HOMES UK speaker Julie Hirigoyen about the changes in policy and industry practice needed to help the housing sector contribute to the Government’s net zero targets.

What are you speaking about at HOMES UK?
I will be speaking about how the housing sector can improve resident health and wellbeing through the design, build and management of new and existing homes. I will be referencing some of UKGBC’s recent work in this area.


How is the UK Green Building Council helping to shape the #futureofliving?
UKGBC continues to prioritise healthy, sustainable, low carbon living and good quality placemaking as a major focus for its campaigns. We advocate for stronger Government policy in this area – both national and local – and we encourage, inspire and empower our members to put ambitious people and planet standards at the heart of the development process.

Examples of our work include:

I am also on the Home of 2030 Advisory Panel (BEIS) so advising the design competition on homes of the future.


What changes do you see happening in your sector in the next 12 months?

The traditional house-building business model is being disrupted by new small and innovative start up businesses that have embraced the digital and offsite construction revolutions, which are more aligned with sustainability outcomes.


Government has recognised that climate change mitigation, adaptation and nature/biodiversity restoration are not nice-to-haves but must-haves. So legislation is tightening up and homes, like all other consumer products, will need to catch up with changing public opinion.


Health, wellbeing, sense of community and belonging – these are all rising up the agenda for developers and landlords alike. Recent research by ONS suggests that urban properties close to green space are on average £2,500 more expensive. This sort of research will start to shift market forces.


What policies would you like to see introduced to help improve the sustainability of the built environment?


UKGBC has a long list of policy asks for Government policy – both on new build and existing buildings, homes, commercial assets and infrastructure. We are hopeful that recent announcements on both homes and commercial buildings suggest that the Government is recognising the importance that this sector has to play in a net zero economy.


We are advocating for in-use energy performance measurements and ratings, as well as long-term clear policy trajectories on MEES and EPCs. This will provide early signals to long-term investors and developers on the direction of travel.


We also urgently need a raft of policies to tackle the retrofitting of existing homes – and have been calling for energy efficiency to be recognised as an infrastructure priority to mobilise the level of capital required at scale.


Why should people come and hear you speak at HOMES UK?

Because we aren’t building enough homes, those we are building won’t stand the test of time without energy retrofits, and because UKGBC and its members are taking practical action to change this.


Julie Hirigoyen will be speaking as part of a session on Health and wellbeing in our homes and towns on 27 November at 15:00-15:45. Register for free* now to see her speak!

*A visitor fee applies for commercial organisations