I would like to reflect on Rob’s points regarding the residential sector and zero carbon targets, but focus instead on the commercial sector. Obviously, we all know and recognise that our buildings contribute enormously to CO2 emissions and that there is a big opportunity to tackle climate change through modifying the built environment. Policy levers are also in play and the Climate Change Act of 2008 commits the UK to reductions of 34% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
The technology and best practice for new buildings certainly starts us down that road and indeed in 2007 the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that the use of current know-how and mature technologies in the commercial and residential building sector could cut global emissions by 30% by 2020 without significantly increasing investment costs. Good news… on the surface.
The reality is that in 2050 we are likely to still be occupying 90% of the buildings that exist today. So the big question remains around refurbishment of buildings to ensure that they are fit for future purpose. My view is that this part of the market is yet to be fully understood and exploited – which buildings are most appropriate, what are the costs involved, are there buildings that we should just avoid altogether? With a supply gap across many of our markets for good quality buildings there is no doubt that the timings are right to deliver this opportunity over the next few years and to really embrace and make mainstream the sustainable refurbishment of buildings. Those who do will be the winners in the short term and will hopefully make winners of us all in the long run.
We’ve done some research work on exactly this topic – download it here.