UK Government urged to invest £64bn in retrofit projects over the next decade

Around 80% of the UK building stock for 2050 is already built.

The UKGBC, a coalition of more than 700 built environment businesses and organisations, has called on the next Government to introduce new policies and invest in projects aimed at retrofitting and upgrading UK homes, offices and public spaces.

Research conducted by the Council has revealed that making a £64bn investment over the next decade in retrofitting projects, such as energy efficiency improvements and heat pump adoption, could result in a considerable reduction in the sector’s carbon emissions and energy bills, while creating 140,000 skilled jobs.

Furthermore, the Council emphasises that such an investment could result in potential savings worth £60bn in grid upgrade costs over the next ten years while saving £22bn for the NHS during the same period.

UKGBC’s head of policy Louise Hutchins said: “The built environment industry stands ready to help as an active partner, but any government wanting to show big tangible improvements will need to put their shoulder behind a much bolder approach than we’ve seen up to now.

“That means leadership from the top, comprehensive long-term strategies that communities and investors can get behind and a step-change in government investment surgically targeted where its most needed.”

In December of last year, the UKGBC warned that the UK’s built environment, responsible for 25% of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, remains off track to reducing sector emissions in line with the nation’s net-zero by 2050 target.

The UKGBC is calling on the next Government, to develop a long-term plan for upgrading the UK’s built sector while focusing on making sustainable home insulation affordable and attractive, while protecting communities from climate risks.

The Government’s approach to home insulation has been fairly stop-start in recent years. Recent research found that fewer than 4,700 homes have thus far benefitted from the latest Government incentive scheme, the Great British Housing Insulation Scheme. The Scheme is not on track to reach the 300,000 homes targeted by 2026.

Additionally, UKGBC would like to see a focus from the Government on renewing town centres and ensuring that new developments have quality, well-connected and green infrastructure.

Key manifesto points

The manifesto is calling on the next Government to introduce an Energy Saving Stamp Duty that incentivises homeowners to upgrade their homes with sustainable measures such as heat pumps and solar panels.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a delay in the implementation of its Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM), a policy aimed at mandating heating systems manufacturers to shift towards heat pumps.

Other policy demands in the manifesto include requiring landlords/owners to upgrade homes to EPC C and large commercial buildings to EPC B by 2030, modernising the planning system in line with national nature and climate goals, as well as introducing stronger building standards to drive down energy bills and carbon emissions.

The Government’s ‘Future Homes Standard’ policy, aimed at establishing ‘world-leading energy efficiency standards’ has been slated for implementation in 2025. However, the industry has expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the proposed draft crafted by the Government, stating that in its current state, the proposed plan falls short of addressing the sector’s challenges.

The UKGBC’s policy manifesto is also calling for the introduction of restriction on the upfront ‘embodied’ carbon emissions from constructing new buildings, Cabinet Office oversight of a funded national climate plan, and the modernisation of the Landlord and Tenant Act to boost the uptake of green leases for commercial real estate.

Hutchins added: “A national home retrofit programme is common sense; it ticks so many boxes.

“It will bring down bills, make homes more comfortable, healthy, and reduce the country’s carbon emissions, while generating skilled new jobs and saving billions for the NHS.”

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