Don’t demolish, retrofit: Buildings key to net zero in UK

THE UK’s net zero efforts have so far been defined by industry bodies calling for government action — but retrofitting buildings could be the key, says an industry expert.

Anthony Baker, founder and CEO of Satellite Vu, says it should be at the centre of efforts: cost-effective and efficient. The UN’s environment programme showed that buildings account for almost 40 per cent of energy-related carbon emissions, a figure which reached an all-time high in 2019. Direct carbon emissions from buildings need to be halved by 2030 to put the country on track for net-zero building stock by 2050.

The Guardian recently suggested prime ministerial candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak should halt demolitions to make the UK a retrofitting leader.

Equipping governments and businesses with high resolution thermal data via satellite technology would help, Baker believes. “By providing measurable data-driven insights … we can ensure that buildings operate in accordance with their Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs),” he said, calling it “the only way” for the UK to meet its COP26 obligations and combat greenwashing claims.

The government has announced a £635m boost for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, providing grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures.