Two homes need to be retrofitted every minute to meet energy-efficiency targets

Some 80,000 homes will need modifications every month between now and 2050 to meet targets, according to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

The comment was made at UK Construction Week (UKCW) at ExCeL London where experts discussed the scale of the retrofit challenge the UK property industry was facing.

The UK’s housing stock is one of the oldest in Europe, with 20% of homes built pre-1919 and approximately 50% having uninsulated walls — yet 80% of buildings in use today are expected to still be inhabited in 2050.

The UKGBC is strongly advocating for the government to develop a nationwide retrofit programme to deliver the upgrades to energy efficiency that the housing stock urgently needs.

The organisation believes this could provide 500,000 high-skilled jobs across the country in a decade, £56bn in health benefits due to homes being made safer and warmer, and a 20% drop in UK demand for gas.

During a seminar at the UKCW — hosted by BBC News presenter, Victoria Derbyshire — Simon McWhirter, deputy CEO and director of external affairs at UKGBC, claimed: “The retrofit challenge for net zero carbon [means] 1.8 homes per minute [need to be modified] between now and 2050.”

He referenced how getting the Future Homes Standard right will set a precedent for a generation.

“We need to make sure that we're not having to retrofit properties we’re building now.”

L-R: Allan Wilen, economics director at Glenigan; Nicola Clayton, head of business development at Etopia; Richard Lankshear, programme director at Future Homes Hub; Victoria Derbyshire, BBC News presenter

When it comes to the housing sector working towards net zero carbon, Nicola Clayton, head of business development at sustainable housebuilder Etopia, added: “It’s got to be [down to] regulation because [the construction industry isn’t] going to change.”

“It’s such a shame that we have to be forced, because it’s the right thing to do.”

Nicola has worked in affordable housing for nearly 30 years and highlighted how the issues that were prevalent when she started are “still the same as they are today”.

UKCW focused on championing culture change in construction and how the industry can move forward to tackle its biggest issues, including quality, fire safety, sustainability, offsite manufacturing, mental health and improving diversity and inclusion.

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