Green refurb beats ‘Noddy’ new build – TV designer

Kevin McCloud, the face of TV's Grand Designs, has cautioned against demolishing inefficient homes and starting from scratch as a way of improving the environmental performance of the UK's housing stock.

Speaking at Ecobuild this week Mr McCloud dismissed the suggestion that demolition might be good for pushing forward the green agenda.

“Demolition is an easy solution – it’s easy to say it’s old and we don’t like it so let’s knock it down,” he said.

“But the new thing tends to last less long than the old and there’s an aesthetic consideration too, it tends to look worse.”

He said that he was rather in favour of creative re-use and adapting existing buildings to meet environmental standards.

That did not necessarily mean trying to preserve them and make them look like quaint, old-fashioned homes, he added.

“If it means buildings have to look different for the sake of efficiency I don’t really mind,” said the TV presenter.

“It still has echoes of the past and its heritage. If the alternative is to knock everything down and pepper the countryside with Noddy houses, I’m against that.”

Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, also defended refurbishment as the solution to inefficiency on the grounds of economics.

He referred to work carried out by the Sustainable Development Commission comparing the financial and environmental cost of refurbishment versus demolition and new build which concludes that renovation is the hands-down winner.

He said: “The cost of demolition is often higher than it first seems and we need to be careful before we knock anything down because we’re having trouble building any new houses at the moment and we haven’t got enough.”

Sam Bond

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