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BSRIA Institute / association Website
Last edited 03 Mar 2017

Building Places that Work for Everyone

On 28 February 2017, the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) published a report that suggested more than one home will need to be refurbished every minute in the UK between now and 2050.

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Building Places that Work for Everyone: Industry insights into key Government priorities, profiles ways the construction industry can help to solve some of our biggest challenges:

  • Building more homes more quickly.
  • Improving public health.
  • Bringing down household bills.
  • Stimulating economic productivity.
  • Providing skilled jobs.
  • Achieving the UK’s legally-binding carbon reduction targets.

The report points out that the UK needs to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and that currently, a third of those emissions come from heating draughty buildings. But four out of five of the homes that will be occupied in 2050 have already been built, meaning 25 million homes need to be refurbished.

Home refurbishment would save on bills and improve people's health, comfort and happiness, and the process of insulating roofs, walls and floors would also create jobs.

The report recommends:

  • Setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings.
  • Reintroducing the zero-carbon buildings standard from 2020.
  • Recognising energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.
  • Setting long-term trajectories for ratcheting up home energy standards.
  • Obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use.

Tassos Kougionis.jpg

Tassos Kougionis, Principal Consultant – Residential, at BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group, said:

BSRIA welcomes the UK-GBC report that discusses a crucial issue directly affecting home owners, home occupiers and the environment. It is true that the existing housing stock in the UK suffers from low energy efficiency, along with other inherited issued. This not only creates social implications, as in the case of fuel poverty, environmental issues and high carbon emissions, but also directly affects the health and well-being of the people living in these properties.

“The wider economy – through additional construction claims, impact on investment, frequent required retrofit work, additional NHS costs and potential reduction in people’s productivity – is also affected.

“Undertaking tasks to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes, such as increasing the levels of insulation or adding insulation where non-existent, is an important step forward and can provide the right opportunity for critical maintenance work to be scheduled alongside minimising disruption and optimising the retrofit process. This can also work the other way around.

“The UK-GBC announcement comes hot on the heels of Government’s Housing White Paper, which sets out the Government’s preferred approach in tackling the country’s housing crisis focusing mainly on the delivery of higher volumes of new homes. Nevertheless the new homes of today will be the retrofits of the future, so it is important to consider resilient new home designs and take into account the buildings’ expected lifecycle. Preventing new homes from facing similar issues in the future will require a good feedback loop being introduced as well as quality standards to be set.

The Bonfield Review launched at the end of last year picked up on domestic energy efficient issues and called for a holistic approach towards achieving good energy efficiency standards. The report included 27 cross-cutting recommendations assisting in establishing a clearer way forward.

There are still questions that remain unanswered including how to best assess the energy efficiency of existing homes, who can cover the costs, what can be the role of local authorities to it and what are the levels of buy in from both potential investors and home owners. We have seen numerous incentives in the past with varying results. A proper evaluation of the impact of policies, new innovative solutions and financial support mechanisms will need to further explore solutions that work and adapt to the market needs accordingly.”

--BSRIA

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