Don’t forget the quiet green heroes

UCB Home Loans has been asking mortgage brokers what they think about environmentally-friendly home loans and will be releasing its results this week.

Nationwide’s specialist intermediary lender is the latest to jump on the green bandwagon and it’s about time other lenders did too. Carbon footprints are stalking the housing market.

When all home sellers need to have Energy Performance Certificates as part of Home Information Packs the race to shrink our carbon footprints will begin in earnest.

Where guilt over the fate of homeless polar bears and disappearing Amazonian rain forests has failed to bring action, the possibility that we might fail to get the full asking price on our homes will do the trick. Some lenders are catching on faster than others.

Keith Astill, managing director of UCB, says: “As one of the UK’s main lenders in the self-cert and buy-to-let sectors, we have an obligation to help people who are buying homes to find ways of reducing their carbon emissions and fuel bills in the practical ways.”

Sure, so why is it starting its programme of green initiatives now, two months before EPCs come into force? But I shouldn’t be too hard on UCB – at least it is doing something. Plenty of other companies have not yet moved their sluggish strategies into the carbon footprint arena.

And as the efficient use of energy becomes a factor in getting the best price for bricks and mortar, sellers and their estate agents will be looking for lenders that can help with that in any way. Since the government also claims to be committed to making all new homes carbon neutral by 2016, there are other reasons for riding the green bandwagon after years of watching it roll along empty. UCB’s programme is not initially about developing green home loans, although those are on the cards. To begin with it wants to raise consumer awareness and encourage industry action on green issues. Even I can’t knock that.

Astill adds: “We are already active on the environmental front, particularly in terms of internal initiatives on recycling, energy use and carbon emissions. This programme will see us expanding this to include more external activity.”

I’m glad companies are going green but I hope the quiet heroes – like Norwich and Peterborough which has been active on green issues for many years – don’t get forgotten.