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.