Housing efficiency: Retrofitting offers 'better bang for your buck' than new-build regulations

EXCLUSIVE: Britain should focus its housing energy efficiency efforts on retrofitting existing stock rather than trying to improve new-build performance, a senior building industry executive has claimed.

In July last year, the Treasury scrapped the so-called ‘zero-carbon homes standard’

In July last year, the Treasury scrapped the so-called ‘zero-carbon homes standard’

Speaking exclusively to edie, Chris Tinker, an executive board director at Crest Nicholson - one of the largest housebuilding companies in the UK - said that new builds are already very high up on the efficiency curve.

“I think you need to look at what your payback is for every pound you invest”, Tinker said. “New homes are a long way up the curve already and as a country we would arguable get a higher degree of payback from investing in existing housing stock.

“You’d be better to take the same pound and invest in more insulation, more double-glazing and so on.

“That isn’t to say I don’t think new-builds can be improved further, but there is definitely a limit.”

The Government certainly seems to share Tinker’s views on new-builds. In July last year, the Treasury scrapped the so-called ‘zero-carbon homes standard’, and Tinker believes the message now being sent to construction companies is to “deliver as much housing as you can”.

Policy changes

However, the Government has not yet reallocated resources to beef up efficiency measures in existing buildings. A replacement for the Green Deal insulation scheme is yet to be announced, while this year’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review saw Chancellor George Osborne reduce requirements for energy companies to install new boilers and insulation under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

On Osborne’s recent changes, Tinker was close-lipped, saying: “It does feel intuitively not quite the right way to go, but there you go.”

Buildings are responsible for almost 37% of all UK carbon emissions. Last week, the UK housing industry took matters into its own hands by launching a new project to maximise building performance in terms of energy efficiency and overall environmental impact.

Led by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the project will examine the way the industry designs, constructs and operates non-domestic buildings.

Brad Allen


autumn statement | insulation | green policy


Energy efficiency & low-carbon
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