Retrofitting Historic Homes ‘Could Save Significant Amounts Of CO2 Emissions’

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Retrofitting Historic Homes ‘Could Save Significant Amounts Of CO2 Emissions’

Retrofitting Historic Homes ‘Could Save Significant Amounts Of CO2 Emissions’

A new report has suggested that up to 84 per cent in CO2 emissions could be saved if the country’s historic homes are carefully retrofitted – something that will be necessary if the UK is to meet its climate change targets of zero emissions by the year 2050.

The Heritage Counts study, carried out by Historic England and the Historic Environment Forum, is intended to support and empower the custodians of the nation’s historic buildings, showing how valuable good custodianship actually is, as well as the power of small changes in behaviour and the importance of recycling and reusing our buildings to reduce emissions.

Recycling and reusing our existing historic buildings instead of demolishing them and building new ones means that the embodied carbon within existing sites isn’t lost.

Embodied carbon means all the CO2 that is emitted in the production of materials, estimated from the energy required to extract and transport raw materials, as well as emissions generated from manufacturing processes.

Where buildings are concerned, the embodied carbon can include all the CO2 emissions from the construction materials, the building process, fixtures and fittings, and the demolition and disposal of the site once it’s reached the end of its lifespan.

When buildings are demolished, energy is used in the deconstruction, as well as the removal and disposal of the associated waste. CO2 can also potentially be released, as a result, as well. And then building its replacement will require even more materials and energy, which thus creates even more embodied carbon.

When looking to supply renewable energy to properties, it’s arguably more important to avoid embodied carbon emissions of the demolition and construction process than it is to improve the building’s energy performance.

The Historic England report advises that there is no one size fits all approach to reducing the carbon footprint of historic buildings, but custodians should consider retrofit options that avoid waste and carbon.

This includes staying on top of repair work and maintenance to improve the condition of the existing materials and planning properly for retrofits, such as by using fewer new materials that can have large footprints and opting for natural, recycled and durable materials.

Chief executive of Historic England Duncan Wilson said: “The scale and urgency of climate change requires people to take action now to reduce carbon emissions. Our buildings are important sources of embodied carbon, so we know we must reuse them, rather than demolish and rebuild, but as buildings are the third largest carbon emission producers in the UK after transport and industry we must also address their daily emissions.

“From small behavioural changes to larger energy efficiency improvements this new research demonstrates that we can greatly reduce the carbon footprint of our precious historic homes, whilst maintaining what makes them special.”

The report revealed that CO2 emissions could be reduced by up to 84 per cent in a detached Victorian home, 62 per cent in a Georgian terrace and 58 per cent in a 1900s terrace.

Looking for scaffolding contractors in Sheffield? Get in touch with Burflex today.