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Calls for retrofit drive to spark post-Covid ‘green economic recovery’

Shutterstock philip openshaw derelict abandoned buildings

The government should launch an ambitious retrofitting programme to spur the UK’s recovery from coronavirus, industry organisations have said

The UK Green Building Council – a supporter of the AJ’s RetroFirst campaign for re-use in construction – joined with the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), in pointing to the potential for refurbishing buildings as part of widespread calls for the government to prioritise a ‘green economic recovery’.

Last week (6 May) the government’s official environmental adviser, the Committee On Climate Change (CCC), wrote to Boris Johnson calling for a ‘resilient recovery’ and arguing that the nation’s ‘credibility as an international leader rested on taking action at home’ ahead of the UK hosting the COP26 UN climate talks next year.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC said: ‘We particularly welcome [the CCC’s] focus on investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure, improving green spaces and making our homes fit for the future.

‘Improving the energy efficiency of our homes has an especially key role to play in providing early economic stimulus. It can both support existing workforces and create new jobs, delivering economic growth nationwide.

‘Enabling households to save money on their energy bills means they will have more disposable income at a difficult time for many. Making our homes warmer and more comfortable will also ease pressure on our NHS, while reducing Covid risk factors.

‘Energy efficiency is “shovel ready” – with labour-intensive projects rooted in local supply chains. The social housing sector offers a great opportunity for initial investment.’

We need to be designing all new buildings to net zero carbon standards

Incoming CIBSE president Stuart MacPherson warned against a return to ‘business as usual’ and called for an ambitious programme to refurbish existing buildings in his inaugural address last week.  

’It is going to require a step change,’ he said. ‘We need to be designing all new buildings to net zero carbon standards and embark on a much more ambitious programme of refurbishment of existing buildings, combined with ways of de-carbonising the energy supply to those buildings.’

And FMB chief executive Brian Berry said longer-term efforts to help the construction sector recover ‘must include a national retrofit strategy that harnesses capacity in the SME sector to upgrade the energy efficiency of people’s homes.’


Readers' comments (5)

  • The world of architectural salvage and reclaimed building materials is ready and waiting!

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  • This sounds really promising, hopefully we'll see progress and real change to the building process #RetroFirst

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  • That sounds promising and a good point from Thornton..!

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  • Alan Crawford

    The government should remove VAT on this work so its on par with new build and that would act as an #incentive to kickstart retrofit building projects for those on smaller budgets.

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  • For Alan Crawford - successive governments' refusal to end discriminatory taxation against renovating existing buildings is a longstanding disgrace, but just now they're probably wondering whether to extend VAT to new build, which would at least level the playing field.

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