In Focus: Home ownership  

Can mortgages be properly 'sustainable'?

  • Communicate the role property is playing in the UK's efforts to achieve net zero
  • Explain how mortgages can be structured to promote greener living
  • Explain ways retrofitting property can help bring costs down
Can mortgages be properly 'sustainable'?
(Elle Hughes/Pexels)

Out with the greenwash. It is high time to go properly sustainable in the mortgage market.

The ever-resourceful Chinese have a proverb for most situations. And in the last months of 2022 they have one for the UK, a nation that has been shaken to its foundations by political and economic turmoil: “In every crisis lies opportunity.”

The Chinese word for crisis is wéi jī. Western motivational speakers often claim the word is composed of two elements: 'danger' and 'opportunity'. That is a misinterpretation.

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Linguistically the word means 'danger at a point of juncture'. A juncture is a crucial point in time where a decision needs to be made. We are now at that point in time. 

This is very true because, when our politics has settled down again, interest rates have stabilised and we are on some sort of even keel, we will still have the underlying greatest challenges of our – and the next generation’s – time to face: climate change and global warming. 

Our children will not thank their parents' generation for ducking this one with the excuse that it costs too much and is too difficult to address because other short-term economic factors must be dealt with first.

We have already done quite enough to disappoint generation rent by refusing to build enough new homes for them while we sit smugly in our castles that, due to steady price inflation, have fared far better as retirement nest eggs than our pensions.

In fact, I looked at my pension the other day and almost fell over.

But equally alarming is the detailed map of the UK on the Dashly database, which showed if we do not do something fast the office in London in which I am writing this will be underwater by 2050.

Costs of home ownership

With winter approaching one of the things our minds are focused on is the amount of energy we use to heat our homes.

There are many families out there who are having to choose between putting the central heating on, doing a proper weekly family food shop or paying the mortgage.

The consequences of failing to perform the latter have disastrous effects in the medium if not the short term.

For the first time, after years of low interest rates, mortgages have been on the move upwards. The market has sprung to life following years of rate flat-lining.

Mortgage advisers have been inundated with anxious borrowers after new deals. But here is the real 'new deal'.

Our homes use 35 per cent of all the energy in the UK and emit 20 per cent of the carbon dioxide emissions.