Report: Councils should aim higher on tower block efficiency

Retrofitting residential tower blocks can help the environment and alleviate fuel poverty for some of society's poorest member, says a new report from environmental think-tank The Green Alliance.

However changes to the government’s support scheme for energy efficiency, and the technical complexity of retrofitting tower blocks, means building managers are rarely incentivised to act. (Scroll down for full report)

“Tower blocks are often incredibly energy inefficient structures that result in residents paying disproportionately high energy bills,” said the report

“But tower block retrofit can deliver a range of benefits that go well beyond fuel poverty reduction, energy efficiency gains and decreased emissions, including improved health and reduced anti-social behaviour.


One key retrofit policy identified by Green Alliance is to establish tower blocks as the centre of district heating systems, whereby one principal boiler-station heats a residential area, improving efficiency.

Another option is the installations of smart-meters whereby in-home displays help consumers make informed decisions about their boiler use.

Faye Scott, head of research at Green Alliance said: “It’s easy for cities to plan ahead for sustainability and forget what they already have. Many tower blocks are in very poor condition and retrofit shouldn’t be delayed.

“We’ve been pleased to highlight examples of local authorities and housing associations leading the way with ambitious tower block schemes, not just waiting for funding to come to them, and providing best practice examples for others to learn from.”

Case study

Wilmcote House, built in 1968 in Portsmouth, provides a good example of the benefits of retrofitting. The local council spent £12m refurbing the block, resulting in an average energy saving of £750 for every flat.

The council will also save £87,000 a year in maintenance costs.

Green Alliance: Greening the Skyline


Brad Allen

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