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UK must refurbish one house a minute until 2050

To really reduce energy use and carbon emisisons, the UK housing stock must be refurbished at a rate of one house a minute for the next 40 years.

UK must refurbish one house a minute until 2050

That’s what will be said at the Build with CaRe conference, being organised by the University of East Anglia (UEA) this week.

Transformation of the fabric efficiency of buildings across Europe is necessary to radically reduce energy use and carbon emissions, the conference will hear.

If action is not taken, rising fuel costs could bring large numbers of families into fuel poverty with more and more vulnerable people unable to afford to keep warm in winter. The scale of the task is huge. The low-carbon refurbishment of over 20 million existing homes by 2050 in the UK may cost £500 billion at the rate of £250 million each week – with one house needing to be refurbished every single minute.

The Build with CaRe is organised by UEA along with its partners in the East of England, West Suffolk College and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. Build with CaRe is an international project with the ambition to help mainstream low-energy construction in the North Sea region and across the EU.

The conference will also state that millions of zero-carbon new homes are also needed. Each member state across the EU will have similar challenges and each member state will, in addition, have to invest similar sums in building a new low-carbon energy infrastructure. The lack of definitive regulation is causing great uncertainty with build costs of zero-carbon homes in the UK predicted to go up by over 20 per cent and the EU not calling for nearly zero-energy new buildings until the end of 2020.

Hans Eek, one of the world’s experts on passive houses, will describe how a transformation in working practices in Sweden has made low-carbon refurbishment practical and affordable, and Erik Franke, an architect from Holland, will talk about an on-going project in the south of Holland where huge cuts in energy use of apartment blocks are being achieved.

David Orr, Chief Executive of the UK’s National Housing Federation will outline initiatives by the social housing sector in the UK and across Europe while Neil Jefferson, Chief Executive of the UK’s Zero Carbon Hub, will tell the conference how the UK is working towards a definition of zero-carbon for new homes. From Germany, Tatjana Bruns of the KfW Bank will talk about financial initiatives that have led the way in energy-efficient rehabilitation of the building stock.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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