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Failure to Retrofit Buildings Could Spark New Energy Crisis

Failure to Retrofit Buildings Could Spark New Energy Crisis
05 May 2023

The Building Engineering Services Association predicts that the failure to retrofit commercial buildings to meet net-zero targets could to ignite a new energy crisis.

A new report from property and construction consultant Ridge and Partners shows that one in four public or private sector organisations had invested in making their buildings more sustainable and just one in ten had a retrofitting budget. Most had ambitious net-zero plans, but few included the energy performance of their building.

Retrofitting to improve energy efficiency was seen as a low priority for 86 per cent of building managers and 23 per cent of the people managing buildings in the largest companies had not been involved in any form of net-zero planning.

They also hugely underestimated the rate at which buildings were replaced in the UK. Over a third told researchers that fewer than 39 per cent of the UK’s current building stock would still be in use by 2050, but it is likely to be more than 70 per cent.

The government has estimated that the cost of decarbonising UK public sector buildings is estimated to be £25-30 billion. Without this investment, the UK will fail to meet its aim of net-zero emissions by 2050.


52% of FMs Want Retrofit Refurbishments to be VAT Free


The Ridge report concluded that the government could do more to make retrofitting financially attractive with 52 per cent of facilities managers calling for refurbishments to be VAT free. Almost half added that business rates discouraged investment in retrofit and a similar number called for financial incentives.

BESA’s Technical Director Graeme Fox said the report’s findings were shocking as they revealed a huge lack of awareness among the people who had the power to make our built environment more sustainable and resilient: “This shows that there is a lot of talk about net-zero and corporate flannel about sustainability but when it comes to taking action many are not investing in the most obvious and straightforward measures,” he said.

“Retrofitting existing buildings can be done at speed and more cost-effectively than some of the grandiose ‘statement’ measures being proposed by some organisations,” added Fox. “If they are serious about energy security and protecting themselves from another price shock, they should be retrofitting now.”

“We clearly need to make a stronger business case for building retrofit. FMs are struggling to get the message through to board rooms that this is an area which would not only make a huge difference to their ‘green’ corporate credentials but also significantly reduce their running costs.”

Picture: a photograph of a city skyscraper taken from below. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 05 May 2023


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