Should the Americans take a lesson from the Brits? When the financial crisis hit more than a year and a half ago, the United Kingdom was affected, yes, but not that much. Especially complicating the real estate crash was the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac brouhaha which until now is siphoning off taxpayers money like an endless pit.
The British are looking at this crisis from a whole new different angle. They are approaching the mortgage of homes the eco-friendly way. How so?
They have proposed that new homeowners can have a lower and longer time paying for their mortgages by upgrading their homes into being more energy proficient. Through the installation of practical loft and cavity insulations, solid wall insulations or renewable energy generating technologies by 2015, a lowering of carbon emission by 29% by the year 2020, and the rest will have the chance to access to advice, information and finance. These will not be expected to be acted upon by homeowners immediately. All these will be available through a pay-as-you-save strategy.
Is the British government just plain dreaming a dream, or do they actually have a viable and workable long term plan that will solve two problems with one stone? Already, the tongues of critics are wagging. And the British government does not care. They say that it is more important to have energy-proficient homes than it is to make money. It is a slow process, yes, but the long-term effects are the future.
Dubbed Homes, Greener Homes: A Strategy for Household Energy Management, this has actually been in motion since 2002 and has already helped more than 7.5 million homes become more efficient. And there is no denying how man has ruined the environment. Critics are saying that now is not the time to do this. The British government is saying, no more politics. The right time is now.
Martin Ellis, chief economist at the Halifax, one of the UK’s biggest lenders states, “Annually, homeowners should be better off: I think energy efficiency will become something that people take into consideration alongside location. It won’t make a huge difference to prices, but it should be a positive one.”
So should we take lessons from the British and follow the lead? Actually no, they are not taking the lead. The American government has taken the lead. The problem is that the British government is implementing what they have proposed to do, they are acting on it. They are not making politics set the rules.
The U.S. government created the Building Technologies Program to help improve the energy-proficiency of American homes and buildings constructed almost forty years ago. The U.S. Department of Energy is adamant in its pursuit toward Zero Energy Buildings mainly for commercial buildings and is funding research for innovative technology. But as usual, politics do get in the way and the American homeowners do not have the incentive to improve their homes as it has become too expensive.
So can the Americans listen and learn from the British? This is the question that remains unanswered.