BSA’s Robin Fieth: Building societies can have a key role in green housing

Ryan Bembridge

May 24, 2019

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Building Societies Association chief executive Robin Fieth talked up the role societies can have on improving environmental housing standards today.

Speaking at the society’s annual conference, Fieth (pictured) added that climate change should factor into lenders’ risk assessments.

Fieth said: “If we accept that there is at least some human contribution to climate change, there are real opportunities for us as lenders to influence both the environmental standards of new build properties, and improvements for the much larger stock of existing homes.

“Both are arguably in the interests of our borrowing members, not least, in reducing the ongoing running costs of their homes.”

He added: “It doesn’t really matter whether you are a climate change campaigner or a sceptic, the fact is that our world is going through a period of quite rapid global warming, and we are seeing the natural consequences in shrinking ice-caps, retreating glaciers, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.

“In France linking international trade with environmental protection is now accepted.

“As businesses, we are typically making 25 to 45 year lending decisions. The current pace of climate change is such that it could be a material factor in the risk assessments on at least some of those.

“I would suggest, though, that we should take our thinking way beyond that.”

Elsewhere at the conference, Fieth said building societies have been a “quiet success story” this year.

However he added that the biggest challenge going forward is how they stand out based on factors other than rate.

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