Refurb & Retrofit

Retrofit takes centre stage

The Committee on Climate Change calls for more ambitious low carbon building policy, placing low carbon retrofit at centre stage.

Five years on from the ending of the Green Deal incentive, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended the government prioritises low carbon retrofits supported by a finance mechanism.

The recommendation, is contained in the CCC’s latest progress report, which  urges the UK government to accelerate its Net Zero commitments to boost a resilient recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing the World Bank, the CBI and other  organisations, the report’s authors argue that a range of low-carbon and climate adaptation ‘green stimulus’ measures will help both the short term need to restore the economy and long term climate resilience.

Policy lag

The report recognises the impact that COVID-19 has had on Net-Zero policy making but urges the government to ‘turn the COVID-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change’ and says that the delay of COP26 to November 2021 ‘provides a window to address this policy deficit’.

The report calls for the Building and Heating Strategy, due later this year, to make heat pumps and other low carbon heating the norm, with a clear roadmap backed by standards towards phasing out installation of new gas boilers by 2035. It should be supported by a national effort to improve the energy efficiency of UK buildings.

Meanwhile, the National Infrastructure Strategy, which was left out of the 2020 Budget, should prioritise early funding for areas needing public finance. Top priorities include energy efficiency and avoiding over- heating in buildings.

From Reducing UK Emissions – Progress Report to Parliament, June 2020

However, the authors, led by CCC Chairman John Gummer, Lord Debden, cautiously welcome the Future Homes Standard which require all new homes to be zero-carbon from 2025.  They should be designed for a changing climate, are ultra-energy efficient and use low- carbon heat.

The report says this is long overdue because since the Climate Change Act came into force in 2010, almost two million homes had been built that will need low carbon retrofits. 

Expanding the retrofit agenda

The CCC places low carbon retrofit as a key investment priority, calling for an increase in the government’s manifesto pledge of £9bn for energy efficiency over the next decade, which it says is not enough to match the size of the challenge.

It argues that a national low carbon retrofit programme will not only support existing jobs and boost a skills drive, creating a healthier and more comfortable homes, particularly for the fuel poor in social housing.  Local planning and regional approaches will be needed to drive delivery, providing an opportunity to direct early progress to areas in most need of economic stimulus. 

In the immediate term, funding should be brought forward to  renovate public sector buildings , which will act as an important standard and cut public energy bills.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), which earlier this month launched its ‘Accelerator Project’ to boost home retrofit, welcomed the report.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC, said:

 “We echo the CCC’s call for the Government to take low-carbon heat from a niche market in the UK to the dominant form of installation by the early 2030s and their calls for a national effort to improve the energy efficiency of UK buildings. We look forward to Government urgently bringing forward their manifesto pledges to kickstart energy efficiency retrofit in fuel poor households and the social housing and public sectors.

Featured image credit:

House Buy Fast, Terraced houses in Worthing (CC by2.0)

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