Net zero inaction could add £62bn to retrofitting, says new analysis

Government inaction on net-zero means retrofitting homes will cost extra £62bn, according to new analysis by ilke Homes.

Government inaction on net zero means that retrofitting homes will cost an extra £62bn, according to new analysis by modular housebuilder ilke Homes. 

The news comes after the chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged £650m to making homes net zero during his spending review on 26 November 2020. However, ilke Homes claim that without greener building regulations now, homeowners could receive a £62bn bill for retrofitting homes built between 2016 and 2025 - almost 1000 times more than pledged!

This follows news that the government had quietly ditched a policy requiring all new-build homes to be highly energy-efficient and heated by low-carbon technologies – such as air source heat pumps – by 2023 in a bid to make them net zero. 

The analysis claims this matters because every year that homes are built with old technology, the bill for upgrading these properties grows by tens of millions of pounds, while the cost to the environment also skyrockets. There have also, according to ilke, been repeated delays over the introduction of zero carbon homes which were first meant to be introduced in 2016. 

ilke say the cost of these delays could exceed £62bn. This would be the bill for retrofitting homes built after 2016 – when the rules were last meant to be tightened – and the frustration many have is that zero carbon homes are possible now.

Councils and housing associations, who are already struggling from cuts in central government funding, will be hit with a £11.8bn bill to retrofit homes built between the same time period, the analysis found.

The analysis also found that between 2016-2020, 671,420 new homes have been completed. By 2025, a further 1.2m homes will be built if the government achieves its target of delivering 300,000 new homes a year. Nearly all these homes built during the specified time period will have to be retrofitted.

Between 2016 and 2020, 123,680 new homes have been delivered for councils and housing associations. From now until 2025, a further 234,068 will be built that would need retrofitting. 

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said: “The ministry of housing has shown real foresight and leadership in backing modular housing but energy policy and building regulations need to be more joined up. We can already deliver zero carbon homes and we should not delay rule changes any longer. 

“There is a real cost to these repeated delays and what ministers have now is a large pool of private investors willing and able to help it deliver on its policy promises. If ministers were able to speed up planning for eco-friendly, modular homes – which offer better thermal insulation and create less waste than regular construction – more would get done. Tightening rules encourages change and we cannot dither and delay our climate response any longer.”

Sunand Prasad, chair of the UK Green Building Council and principal of architect Penoyre & Prasad, said: “The government cannot afford to make the costly mistake of delaying the introduction of greener building regulations. By bringing forward the target date for new-build homes to be heated by low-carbon technologies and heat, ministers will show the world the UK means business ahead of the UN Sustainability Conference, COP26, in Glasgow next year, and will put the property industry on a trajectory that will allow it to deliver truly energy efficient homes.”

Steven Charlton, principal at global architects Perkins&Will, said: “Climate change is here and now, which means the days of greenwashing within our industry must end. We need to see beyond the net-zero barrier and thread it through everything we design, deliver and operate, which needs to be reflected in the planning system. To do this, we need to garner a greater understanding of the operational and lifecycle emissions of buildings. We need to work together as an industry to create buildings that are fit for purpose over their whole lifespan, to incentivise long-term investments, and to design adaptable buildings to face the challenges that the climate crisis poses.”

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