Experts say more than one home every minute in need of refurbishment between now and 2050, experts say.
Around 25 million existing homes will not meet the standards required by 2050, according to a report by parliament, which says insulation is needed. The report says that large numbers of draughty homes could get in the way of the UK meeting its emission targets, and it needs to cut carbon emissions by 80% by then. A third of those emissions come from heating draughty buildings. The government said it would devise policies to tackle the issue as soon as possible.
A national programme of home renovation would save money on bills and improve people’s health, comfort and happiness, along with creating thousands of jobs. Critics have criticised ministers for being too slow in putting the programme in action.
Successive governments have been criticised for failing to tackle the UK’s poor housing stock – some of the worst in Europe. Insulation work on council homes is often not carried out, due to limited cash from local authorities, while landlords and owner-occupiers are reluctant to invest large sums and carry out disruptive improvements, despite the savings to make on bills due to the length of time the improvements may take to pay off.
A report from the Green Building Council says four out of five homes that will be occupied in 2050 have already been built, meaning that four out of five homes need refurbishing to the highest standards by 2050. This is the equivalent to 1.4 homes every minute. The report recommends setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings, reintroducing the “zero carbon” standard from 2020, recognising energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, setting long-term trajectories for ratcheting up home energy standards and obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use. It also says that in order to stimulate innovation, the construction industry needs to know what is expected to be delivered, and measurement is needed to discover what is already being built.
Julie Hirigoyen, head of the GBC, told BBC News there was a great prize to be grasped in upgrading building stock: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions. “We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation. Driving up demand for retro-fitting homes is essential for any policy to be a success – the Green Deal told us just offering financial incentives isn’t necessarily the only solution. We need to make it all easy, attractive and affordable. The good thing is that the business community is really starting to recognise the opportunity.”