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28 February 2017

UK “Must Insulate 25 Million Homes” by 2050

The UK has some serious work to do when it comes to cutting carbon emissions, requiring an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 if we are to fall in line with targets. With approximately one-third of those emissions being a result of attempting to heat poorly-insulated buildings, steps must be taken now to improve the efficiency of our homes.

Img: Brett & Sue Coulstock
However, this isn’t just a case of ensuring that all newly-built homes adhere to such standards in terms of insulation, as a new report issued to Parliament by the Green Building Council (GBC) states that four out of five homes that will be occupied in 2050 have already been built.

The result is that 25 million homes will need to be refurbished to the highest standards by the time we reach 2050. Plenty of time, right? Well, not quite; that actually works out at a rate of 1.4 homes per minute.

Unfortunately, critics of the government seem to have little faith in their ability to manage such a mammoth task. They say that a lack of action on the government’s part is to blame for the current predicament, as they have been too slow in introducing a national programme of home renovation which would result in a higher quality of living, reduced bills, improved health, the creation of thousands of jobs and, of course, a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

They also point to past failures such as the government’s Green Deal scheme aimed at owner-occupiers, which collapsed quickly under the weight of widespread criticism. They also failed to provide a replacement to the scheme, leaving many in dire need of refurbishment that they could no longer afford.

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions throughout the UK, the report makes the following recommendations:
  • Setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings
  • Reintroducing the "zero-carbon" standard for buildings 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.

Speaking to BBC News, GBC head Julie Hirigoyen said of the report and its recommendations, “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.”

You can read the full report from the GBC here.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.