Renovating homes could cut emissions by 19Mt – SDC

Refurbishing the existing housing stock to make it more energy efficient could save between 9 and 19 million tonnes of carbon by 2020, according to the Sustainable Development Commission.

In a new report, Stock Take, the SDC says that by tightening regulation and incentivising home owners and the construction industry, the UK could make dramatic strides towards meeting its climate change and recycling targets.

As well as a cut in total carbon emissions from existing homes, the proposals would produce water savings of 30% in each household, cut construction waste in half within 10 years, and cut household waste by 20%, the report says.

“Tackling resource efficiency in existing homes requires a comprehensive package of measures to deliver a step change. But the rewards from implementing these changes will be great,” the report says.

Proposals include setting a framework to encourage people to retrofit their properties to make them more efficient, through a new code for sustainable buildings. This would set minimum standards for major refurbishments.

The report also calls on government to offset the additional carbon emissions from new housing developments through refurbishment of the existing housing stock.

Other recommendations include more use of smart metering – which allows householders to see how much energy and water the are using and how much it costs them – and integrating sustainability into building regulations.

The SDC also calls for the government to set VAT at 11-12% for both new housing and renovations – at the moment the tax system favours new development, which is more resource intensive.

Gretchen Hendriks

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