The UK has one of the oldest and leakiest housing stocks in western Europe. 20% of our housing stock was built before 1919, and a further 34% before 1964 – yet 80% of buildings in use today will still be inhabited by 2050.

UKGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Roadmap found that homes are the largest single contributor of carbon emissions from the built environment. Together with our members, we strongly advocate for the Government to develop a nationwide retrofit programme to deliver the upgrades to energy efficiency that our housing stock urgent needs.

Why do we focus on retrofit?

Homes are responsible for 48% of carbon emissions from the built environment, which makes improving home insulation mission-critical to delivering on the UK’s net zero commitments. 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.

85% of homes are heated by gas – including those who have to use more heat to compensate for heat loss – which means that poor insulation increases our dependence on fossil fuels.

Poor insulation also disproportionately affects people who are economically worse off, deepening the cost of living crises and leaving the poorest people in society even more vulnerable to rising energy prices. Additionally, common illnesses caused by cold homes currently costs the NHS up to £1.4 billion every year.

These problems could be tackled most effectively through a nationwide retrofit programme. But the scale of action needed is huge – approximately two low energy home retrofits are needed every minute, for the next 25 years.

What policies do we propose?

UKGBC is calling on the Government to:

Roll out a Nationwide Retrofit Programme

Set out a comprehensive strategy to improve energy efficiency and upgrade 29 million homes across the country, starting with the 19 million homes currently with an EPC ‘D’ rating

Encourage homeowners and landlords

We need suitable market-based policies that encourage insulation near the point of sale, such as a stamp duty reduction for energy performance improvements

Stop building homes that are not fit for net zero

No home built after 2025 should require any future retrofitting, and should be compatible with low carbon heat systems

Reform the EPC measurement

It must focus more on science-based, in-use tests that show the actual amount of energy used, rather than relying on modelled estimates

How would this help?

We calculate that a nationwide retrofit programme could deliver:
500 k
£56 bn
20 %

Whole Life Carbon Roadmap

In our Roadmap we lay out key steps for policy stakeholders as to how to push retrofit forward.

Upgrading Britain’s Homes

Play chancellor and explore how much it will cost to retrofit the nation’s homes to drive down emissions and provide safe, warm homes for all.

Retrofit Playbook

Designed for local authorities, this resource give guidance for implementing retrofit.