CICV: Clearer messaging needed to help public navigate net zero journey

Scotland’s second Green Home Festival has been hailed another resounding success – but its organisers have also insisted that government and industry must work closer together to deliver clearer guidance and “myth-bust” the misinformation around low-carbon living.

More than 500 delegates signed up for the five-day renewables jamboree organised by the Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV), enjoying a week of practical assistance and advice to help homeowners on Scotland’s journey to becoming a net zero nation.

The festival, held from 14-18 August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, saw packed houses for 11 shows on a range of renewables topics, including preparing for a heat pump, taking a fabric first approach and converting churches into low-carbon social housing.

Co-organiser Gordon Nelson, Scotland Director of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The Green Home Festival again served as a clear demonstration of the public’s growing demand and enthusiasm for sustainable technologies and it was extremely satisfying to see full houses for most of our events.

“It was particularly encouraging to see so many homeowners and community groups attending, engaging and asking questions, and good to see senior industry representatives sharing ideas to help spread the message that low-carbon living is possible if we want it.

“Such enthusiasm shows that there IS appetite for information on green living across the board from all quarters and it’s important we now keep up this dialogue and continue the momentum – we simply can’t afford to stand still.”

However, co-organiser Fiona Hodgson, CEO of plumbing and heating association SNIPEF, warned: “Discussions at the festival showed that there is still a significant degree of confusion and misinformation around the costs and benefits of low-carbon technologies, much of which hinders people from making informed decisions about sustainable living.

“It’s therefore vital for the government and the construction and energy sectors to work collaboratively to create a more consistent and cohesive messaging strategy to counter and myth-bust this misinformation.

“By showcasing the benefits of sustainable living and explaining the significance of the low-carbon transition, we can help engage and inform the public, fostering a more sustainable future for all. It is time to leverage the momentum from the Green Home Festival to create lasting, impactful change – something we at the CICV intend to carry forward.”

The festival was launched on Monday 14 August by Minister for Housing Paul McLennan, who told guests: “Events such as the Green Home Festival can play a huge part in increasing understanding of the changes we need to see in our building stock and of zero emissions heating systems in Scotland.”

Scotland’s Home of the Year judge Anna Campbell-Jones also took centre stage on the opening day to discuss how to make kitchens more eco-friendly, with contributions from Scottish Water, SNIPEF and Scotland’s largest construction trade association, SELECT.

Other sessions which drew crowds to the Scottish HQ of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in central Edinburgh included shows on garden rooms and offices, options for hybrid heating, community heat networks and powering the home of the future.

As well as CICV members, guest speakers included representatives from Built Environment – Smarter Transformation, Home Energy Scotland, Page\Park architects, the University of Edinburgh, Worcester Bosch and Edinburgh Napier University.

John McKinney, co-organiser of the Green Home Festival and Secretary of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, said: “In addition to offering the public practical advice, the festival reinforced the importance of seeking out the right industry professionals and accredited contractors who are members of relevant trade associations.

“We were keen to get across the message that competent, trusted tradesmen will deliver quality advice and projects – be it for a greener kitchen, a new heating system or a garden office – which was received well by delegates throughout the week.”

Organisers have now made many of the festival presentations available to download online, with the webinar free to watch again online as the CICV continues to gather feedback and draft plans for the 2024 event.

Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT and Chair of the CICV, said: “The second Green Home Festival built on the firm foundations laid down last year to deliver a wider variety of shows to even bigger and more enthusiastic audiences.

“We are grateful to Mr McLennan and Anna Campbell-Jones for attending, showing their commitment and helping raise the profile of renewable technology and low-carbon living. We now hope to harness this enthusiasm and make the 2024 event even more of a success.”

The festival is the latest in a string of practical and constructive initiatives launched by the CICV since its creation at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Made up of 28 trade associations, professional services bodies and companies, it has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, producing animations and posters, hosting webinars and maintaining close dialogue with government.