The UK has one of the oldest and leakiest housing stocks in western Europe, possibly in the world. Yet 80% of homes that are lived in today will still be inhabited in 2050. Without urgent, nationwide action, our buildings will continue to waste precious, and increasingly expensive, heat as it leaks out of every uninsulated wall, roof and door.
Our homes and the need for retrofit in the UK
UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap shows that homes are responsible for the largest share of emissions from the built environment. Tackling these emissions is mission-critical to delivering on the UK’s net zero commitment.
The challenge is considerable. With just under two-thirds of the nation’s homes rated an EPC rating ‘D’ or below, we have a sizable housing stock that is wasting precious energy on a daily basis. Around 85% of the nation’s homes are heated by gas, and the price of which continues to rise as the energy and cost of living crises continue, making our inefficient homes an environmental, social and economic challenge. Additionally, common illnesses caused by cold homes in the winter currently costs the NHS about £1.4 billion every year.
Both issues can be tackled by an ambitious nationwide retrofit programme designed to improve insulation and energy efficiency. We want to see this starting with the 19 million homes rated EPC ‘D’ or below. Upgrading these homes to a grade ‘C’ would reduce gas demand by 20% alone.
When it comes to social benefits, recent reports show that a nationwide retrofit effort could deliver on average a £779 reduction in a household’s annual energy bill. UKGBC’s Roadmap indicates this programme would create at least 500,000 high skilled jobs across the country and prevent 6,000 avoidable deaths each year, due to increased thermal comfort.
But it’s not just the cold we need to protect our homes from. As we increasingly face the adverse impacts of climate change-influenced weather events, our homes must be retrofitted to adapt to heatwaves, flooding and water shortages. Retrofitting is essential for our buildings and communities to have a sustainable future.
What’s UKGBC’s approach and how do we look to accelerate home retrofit?
UKGBC is calling for a national government strategy to upgrade 19 million homes in a decade, and nearly all of the UK’s 29 million homes by 2050.
Since publishing our first retrofit resource in 2008, we have strongly championed domestic retrofit as a national priority through advocacy for national policy change, creating and publishing guidance for local authorities and industry, and convening local and combined authorities and industry to share best practice and expertise.