The UK will need to cut carbon emissions from the built environment by 77% if it is to achieve its 2050 reduction targets, says a new report from the Green Construction Board (GCB).
The GBC was set up in October 2011 to help implement the government’s Low Carbon Construction Action Plan.
According to its ‘One year on’ report UK greenhouse gas emissions within the control and influence of the built environment sectors were around 230 million tonnes in 1990, and have reduced overall by around 13% to 200 million tonnes in 2010. To achieve the target by 2050 however, emissions from the built environment will need to decrease to 46 million tonnes, or an additional 77% from 2010 levels.
The most significant source of operational carbon emissions is domestic heating. The report suggests this could be addressed through:
Decarbonisation of the grid, with a shift in heating to electric; and
A reduction in demand for heating through major fabric improvements to the housing stock.
It adds that the potential to reduce emissions in the built environment is highly dependent on the pace of decarbonisation of the grid.
Within buildings, the major drivers for emissions reductions are domestic and non-domestic retrofit, as the level of new build is low and governed by Building Regulations. However, the potential to achieve emissions reductions is affected by a number of issues including:
Technical and commercial constraints.
Education and awareness.
Delivery and finance mechanisms.
The performance gap between design and reality.
Issues of perception.
In the coming 12 months the GCB will further develop its promotional tools and continue working closely with a number of partners to, amongst other things, widen the scope of case studies to include a larger range of buildings and drive forward the ‘Project Focus’ exercise to disseminate the knowledge gained from successful projects.
Access a copy of the report.