In 2019 the government set out much overdue, and legally binding, plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. For context, Construction accounts for 40% of our carbon footprint.
As part of this, only this week, the Ministry of Housing has set out standards for energy efficiency relating to all new-build houses. This essentially distils down to all new houses having to be low carbon heated and ‘zero carbon ready’ by 2025, thus producing 80% lower carbon emissions by 2025 when comparing them to now.
In turn, with the grid continuing to decarbonise, retrofitting such homes to ensure they are zero carbon will be redundant.
Please don't get me wrong, this is positive news. Okay, the governments aims are tied in with larger global agreements, but it is good to witness action over yet more words. However, speaking with leaders from within the Building Materials & Construction industries, and from my own point of view, this standard raises three concerns for me. Namely:
1. We are a country of some 30 million homes currently. What action is the government taking to speed up the retrofitting of them? Surely they're a bigger contributor to our greenhouse gases than the magic number of one million new homes planned ahead of 2026? Plus the additional jobs and additional revenue streams manufactures can reinvestment into advancing technology would be golden.
2. With 2030 being the cut off point, what will happen to the one million new homes built between now and 2026? I'm assuming they'll all need retrofitting in any case.
3. Technological advancement from within the materials market demonstrates we can achieve net zero figures now. You only have to look at some of my more recent Five Minutes With series with the likes of Duncan Baker Brown and Ehab Sayed to witness such improvements. Plus, I have been fortunate enough to have taken tours of four modular building factories, and sat through CPD presentations on the technologies advancements in the space.
I'll get back in my box as overall it's a step in the right direction. Onwards and upwards as they say (whomever "they" are). I'd really appreciate peoples thoughts and perspectives on this subject, as it's bound to create divided opinions and interesting debate.
Take the built environment for example. As well as accounting for nearly 40% of global emissions, the built environment is expected to double the global building stock by 2060 as the world’s population approaches 10 billion. It is an extremely resource-intensive sector and the debate still rages as to how healthy the buildings we work and live in are for us. However, there is little in the way of public outcry as to how this sector is operating. So, what would happen if the built environment tried to create its own “Blue Planet effect”, one that transformed public understanding as to how the sector can transform its operating model to one that promotes healthy and sustainable infrastructure. That is exactly what the World Green Building Council (World GBC) is trying to find out. The Council has announced a new partnership with the BBC’s creative studio StoryWorks to deliver a landmark film series. The aim of the series is to showcase ways in which built environment businesses are innovating approaches to design and construction in order to lessen the sector’s impact on the planet,...