Herculean task of improving building energy efficiency

Improving energy efficiency in existing housing is a 'Herculean' task, according to both the Economic and Social Research Council and Technology Strategy Board.

In a joint publication the two highlight the need to focus on improving the energy efficiency of millions of buildings in Britain that will still be standing in 2050.

The report ‘How people use and ‘misuse’ buildings’ coincides with a report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee calling on the government to make retrofitting existing buildings a priority in the its £535m green stimulus plan.

In the report it is claimed 27% of UK carbon emissions come from people’s homes- twice the emissions of commercial and public buildings and five times that of industrial buildings.

However, to improve the energy efficiency, virtually all the 24m existing buildings in the UK would need some attention to reduce their emissions by just 40%.

One of the report’s authors Professor Kevin Lomas from the University of Loughborough said: “To complete the task in 40 years we would need to refurbish an entire city the size of Cambridge every month.

“If we assume each intervention would take a team of trained workers two weeks, we would need 23,000 teams of people to work at this rate non-stop for the next 500 months.”

Luke Walsh

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