UK must retrofit historic homes to reach net-zero

Retrofitting England’s historic homes could reduce building emissions by up to 84%, according to a new report published by the Historic Environment Forum. 

Buildings are responsible for 13% of the UK’s carbon emissions and with England having one of the oldest building stocks in Europe, decarbonising them is a complex process.

In the new report, the Historic Environment Forum has highlighted that homeowners need to consider the retrofit option that avoids waste and avoids carbon.

This involves:

  • Keeping up with small repairs
  • Adding or upgrading the loft insulation
  • Adding secondary glazing
  • Turning down the thermostat
  • Adding draught proofing
  • Speaking to a professional

The report reinforces the important case for recycling and reusing building rather than demolishing and building new.  Currently, three-fifths of all waste produced in the UK comes from construction, demolition and excavation

The report has shown that retrofitting these historic buildings could reduce carbon emissions by up to 84% in a detached Victorian home, 62% in a Georgian terrace, 58% in a 1900s terrace, 56% in a Victorian semi-detached and 54% in a Victorian terrace.

Adrian Olivier, Chair of the Historic Environment Forum said: ‘Urgent action to combat climate change is among the 2030 United Nations Global Sustainable Goals. To be effective, action must be taken at every level and by everyone, not just Governments – we are all responsible and we can all contribute – collectively and individually.

‘Historic buildings are more than 20% of the total building stock in England and too often they are seen as a block to carbon reduction.

‘The Historic Environment Forum is proud to support this Heritage Counts Research which shows a range of efficiency improvements that can be implemented relatively easily and cost-effectively.

Empowering people to retrofit their home in a more sustainable way with effective energy-saving measures will be a major step on our collective journey to net-zero.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay



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