27th February 2019

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Stop Complaining, Volume House Builders - Phasing Out Gas Is The Right Thing To Do

David Gelling, Managing Director


Housing fit for the Future, a new report from the Committee on Climate Change, has caused predictable howls of outrage from volume house builders. The report calls for all new homes to generate zero emissions by 2050 if the UK is to meet its decarbonisation targets. Well, on behalf of This Land, a recent and determinedly innovative entrant to the market, I would like to congratulate the Committee – its report is bang on the money. 

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) slams the report by claiming that the call for gas boilers and cookers to be phased out of new homes by 2021 would make houses harder to sell because they are currently relatively cheap and consumers like them. That’s how cosy oligopolies always respond to new ways of thinking that threaten their established business model. Of course, there is still a lot of work needed to make the delivery of fossil-fuel-free homes economically viable, but that can only be achieved by constant innovation. Greener alternatives, such as air source heat pumps are available now and are getting ever more efficient and cheaper to install and operate.  

At This Land, we have been active since our inception in searching out the most energy efficient building materials and processes. And we are exploring how quickly we can introduce air source heating, battery storage and state-of-the-art energy management systems to our new homes; starting with the larger schemes, but in time, our ambition is to deliver these across all our developments. Gas boilers and cookers are not going to disappear overnight, but we need to start pushing ahead to reduce the carbon footprint of new homes right now - introducing instant deliverables like low carbon building methods, exceptional airtightness, high thermal mass and charge points for electric cars. 

Unlike the volume house builders, This Land is not in the business of delivering undesirable 'no-architecture' identikit houses; our homes will always be high quality, innovative and stylish; designed to appeal to today's customers that want their families to live in a comfortable, efficient and green environment. Working to deliver fossil fuel-free living is the right thing for the development industry to do and it serves the interests of our customers who want their homes to be adaptable and future-proofed. Our customers inspire and drive our approach to innovation - we are determined to listen to what they are saying.

The HBF and the volume housebuilders it represents need to start listening to their customers and haul themselves into the 21st Century. They need to realise that today’s customers are sophisticated and environmentally-conscious. The lesson of history is that some oligopoly companies are able to cling on for a while, but eventually, they die out when their customers move away from their intransigent practices and embrace new technology, new companies and higher levels of customer experience.