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BRE Urges Tory Leadership Candidates to Pledge to Decarbonise the UK’s Buildings

BRE Urges Tory Leadership Candidates to Pledge to Decarbonise the UK’s Buildings
08 August 2022

Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of the Building Research Establishment, has penned an open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, to urge them to publish credible and effective plans to decarbonise the UK’s homes and buildings.

CO2 emitted from buildings makes up a quarter of overall emissions in the UK.

With energy prices set to increase this autumn, and even more this winter, Gillian is calling for a fully funded national retrofit strategy in order to further limit households' carbon emissions, whilst having the added benefit of shielding households from price hikes.



Picture: a photograph of Gillian Charlesworth. Image Credit: BRE


In the open letter, Gillian explains the urgency behind the desire to decarbonise Britain’s buildings. She says that “we will be sentencing families, businesses, and communities to an even more costly and bleak future” if we abandon our net zero commitments.

The UK's net-zero strategy will already have to be significantly revised in the next eight months after being judged as "unlawful" by the High Court. 

For the UK to have a resilient economy and a prosperous future, we must continue to act on climate change – and central to this should be driving a green transition in the built environment, argues Gillian.


"With nearly a fifth of all gas being consumed by the non-domestic sector, a lack of any retrofit strategy will result in higher costs for our businesses and public infrastructure – with these costs also being fed down to households."

–Gillian Charlesworth

CEO, Building Research Establishment

Renewable Energy Strategy Must Prioritise Retrofit


She also writes of the inadequacy of the current renewable energy strategy: “The government’s current plans do not go far enough to address two of the biggest issues we currently face: tackling rising energy costs and decarbonising the built environment. The crisis in global energy prices can be quickly and effectively alleviated by improving the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings.

"For this reason, we are calling on candidates to reaffirm their commitment to tackling climate change and reaching net zero by 2050, by setting out a fully funded national retrofit strategy to roll out efficiency measures to all UK households. This should include cost-effective solutions such as insulation that will reduce demand for natural gas, address spiralling energy bills and, ultimately, make Britain’s homes fit for the future.”

"Local authorities will be at the heart of this strategy – delivering change in their areas and enforcing new regulations – and it is vital that they are adequately resourced to do so. The future government must also set out clear directives on how to train, or retrain, the hundreds of thousands of workers required to retrofit the UK’s 29 million homes."


Strategies Must Extend to Commercial Buildings Alongside Housing


Gillian continues: "The need to roll out and invest in retrofit measures extends beyond housing. With nearly a fifth of all gas being consumed by the non-domestic sector, a lack of any retrofit strategy will result in higher costs for our businesses and public infrastructure – with these costs also being fed down to households.

"Setting out a clear, long-term strategy to retrofit the UK’s buildings will not only ensure we continue to deliver the Net-Zero Strategy, but it will also bolster our energy security by lowering demand for natural gas.

"Decarbonising our homes and buildings is a priority which we cannot afford to ignore, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Government to support the UK on its path to net-zero.

Picture: a photograph of a large building with several windows, showing office workers inside. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 08 August 2022


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