UK will need to refurbish ‘1.4 homes per minute’ until 2050

More than one home every minute will need to be refurbished in the UK between now and 2050, according to a report from the UK Green Building Council.

That means 25m homes need refurbishing to the highest standards by 2050 - at a rate of 1.4 homes every minute.

The authors say this huge challenge also offers an opportunity under the government’s infrastructure agenda. Insulating roofs, walls and floors creates more jobs and has more benefits than any existing infrastructure priority, they maintain.

The report recommends:

• 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; and

• obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use.

It says the construction industry needs certainty about what it is expected to deliver, and measurement to discover what is already being built.

Julie Hirigoyen, head of the UK-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.”

Tassos Kougionis, principal consultant – residential, at BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group, said: “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 affects the health and well-being of the people living in these properties.

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. However, BSRIA believes that 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.

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