Zero Carbon Headingley, a scheme launched by Leeds Property Association, aims to introduce a ‘Low Carbon’ badge to properties with high energy efficiency ratings.
The label will enable students searching for a house to easily identify properties with a lower carbon footprint. The environmental campaign group aims to encourage practical actions to reduce individual carbon footprints. The scheme aims to raise awareness of the amount of energy students consume whilst at university.
With the introduction of the scheme, it is hoped that students will start to consider energy efficiency as part of their house-hunting process.
Matthew Hill, a campaigner from Zero Carbon Headingley stated that:
“Highlighting the low energy properties will increase the demand for them, acting as an incentive for property agents and landlords to bring more of their houses up to a higher standard.”
Unipol, the charitable property agent that houses 3000 students in Leeds is taking on the ‘Low Carbon’ badge as part of its system – alongside their National Code and Accreditation Scheme. The Unipol website currently displays Energy Performance Certificates on property adverts, however not all letting agents include this within online adverts.
Some letting agents such as Sugarhouse Properties already promotes using green energy in their houses. Their properties currently run on 100% renewable electricity (primarily from wind farms) and at least 12% of gas from a green gas method called anaerobic digestion. However, only a select number of their properties feature an energy efficiency rating above a ‘C’ (‘A’ being the most energy efficient and F being the least), it is yet to be decided if ‘green energy’ properties will receive a similar label on advertisements.
A 2016 DEFRA study which researched ‘innovative approaches for achieving energy-efficient behaviours in universities’ suggested that second year students paying bills separately to rent may have a higher financial incentive than those in halls of residence to improve their energy-related behaviours, as they may save money.
The inclusive bills in halls of residence results in students lacking education on energy efficiency and eco-friendly behaviours when they move out to university. The study proposed the use of ‘eco-reps’ in student accommodation, to educate students and potentially lead to better environmental behaviour in second year house renting.
However, Matthew Hill points out that “many landlords include gas and electricity bills in the rent, and we want to stop students thinking this means its OK to turn the heating up and leave the windows open.”
All inclusive bills has become a requirement for some students when searching for a house to rent, as it saves the financial concern of paying bills on top of rent every month. This can result in students being unaware of their energy usage, and carbon emissions generated whilst renting.
In addition to the ‘Low Carbon’ badge scheme, Zero Carbon Headingley has proposed an accompanying guide and animated film to be produced for students, encouraging them to cut their carbon footprint. The guide, which will be made by students, aims to educate students on their potential energy waste – advocating actions such as turning off appliances, turning off light switches, turning down heaters and shutting the windows. Once completed, Zero Carbon Headingley hopes to use the guide and video on social media to amplify their message to Leeds students.
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