Proptech investment platform houzen has highlighted the scale of the work required to reduce carbon emissions from residential properties in the UK ad which need sustainable retrofits. Known for its innovative use of property data, the company has put the issue of sustainable retrofits under the microscope. Its algorithms have revealed that some 21.3 million UK properties will need some kind of sustainable retrofit in order to make a positive impact on the planet.
“Having analysed the COP26 pledges in detail, it’s frightening to see how many long-term promises have been included. These effectively kick commitments to the curb until it is too late – they are false promises that will result in countless lives being lost and livelihoods destroyed. It’s the action we take in the next few years that will be key to curbing global warming. Aiming to change by 2050 or later is not good enough,” said Eashita Saxena, Sustainability Analyst, houzen.
According to the houzen team, both individual homeowners and the housing industry as a whole can begin making changes immediately. Cities are currently responsible for 71-76% of energy related CO2 emissions, with the construction and operation of buildings, along with the manufacture of the materials required to build them, playing a major role in this.
The solution to the construction sector’s problem emissions is not complex, but it will take time, money and effort. There’s a need for extensive collaboration across the supply chain in order to promote sustainable practices and reduce embodied emissions.
Modern methods of construction have a clear role to play here. Low-carbon solutions and circular solutions are already available. But they need to be implemented at scale. And, of course, who should foot the bill for this is under intense debate.
Some companies are committing their own funds – French multinational Saint-Gobain is a leading example of this – but there is still a major need for government support with the cost of implementing more sustainable practices. Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, acknowledges that cost is an issue, stating that “We have many of the technologies needed to tackle the problem but they need to be improved,” and that technologies that can help reduce emissions need to “come down in cost, they need to increase in convenience, they need to be applicable right across the globe and we need to scale them.”
There’s an educational element at play too. The Construction Leadership Council, for example, has joined forces with ITN Productions Industry News to deliver a ‘Building a Greener Britain’ programme aimed at delivering a zero-carbon built environment. The programme explores the cutting-edge construction methods that focus on sustainability.
At present, the building materials and construction sector accounts for an estimated 40% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This is why the sector is so key to efforts to reduce the rate of global warming, in addition to what individual homeowners are able to achieve in the buildings that already exist.