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Housing sector urged to act on climate change

Posted 7/01/2020 by Land and new homes
Categories: Building New Homes

Climate change has been implicit in housing policy for some time, but some would argue that the industry does not go far enough.

Carbon emissions over time by sector tableThe Government has set a “net zero” emissions target, to be achieved by 2015. However, it has not apportioned this between the main carbon emitting sectors, the top two being the Transport and Housing / Public sectors.

Whilst the Department for Transport has set out it plans to help achieve Net Zero the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has yet to publish their plans.

Office for National Provisional Statistics figures for 2018 show that the Housing & Public sectors generate 18% of the UKs emissions, with the transport sector contributing 33%.

In the Residential and Public sectors, the use of natural gas for heating is the main source of emissions. To help counter this, building regulations for new build and refurbished properties require that minimum standards for insulation be met.

Climate change new build insulation standardsHowever, despite past drives to improve insulation in older properties, 70% of homes are still poorly insulated. In the New Build sector gas boilers will be banned in new homes from 2025 to help reduce carbon emissions further.

Current building methods and materials mean that new homes ‘cost’ more than 50 tonnes of carbon to build. The increasing use of Modern Methods of Construction will increasingly help to moderate this.

So there are aspects of housing policy that are actively working towards the “net zero” target. It is however important that the momentum be maintained over time and given priority by the treasury, the policy makers and policy enforcers. It will also be interesting to see how the successive governments address the major role played by the 29 million existing homes.

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