UKGBC manifesto calls for £64bn retrofit programme

The next government must commit to a £64bn national retrofit programme that will tackle the multiple crises afflicting Britain’s homes and built environment, says the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

In a policy manifesto launched for the next general election, the UKGBC presents a menu of demands intended to put the UK on a better footing for the future.

The 10-year programme it preposes would seek to tackle Britain’s damp and mouldy homes, and the impact of climate change; both of which carry serious repercussions for human health and well-being. As part of this, it would address energy efficiency, and carbon emissions, as well as range of other pressing issues.

To that end, the UKGBC says that next UK government must “seize the opportunity” to upgrade homes, offices and public spaces ito tackle some of the UK’s “most intractable problems”, from soaring energy, housing and health costs, to left-behind and vulnerable communities, and climate and nature breakdown.

At the heart of the manifesto is a call for a £64bn programme of national government investment over the next decade on retrofit to bring down energy bills, reduce carbon emissions, and create 140,000 skilled jobs.

According to the UKGBC, this investment in home insulation, replacing gas boilers with electric heat pumps, and other low carbon measures, would save £60bn in grid upgrade costs over 10 years, as well as saving £22bn for the NHS over the same period. 

A further £9bn will be cut from household energy bills saving the average household £300 per year, the organisation adds.

Louise Hutchins, head of policy at the UKGBC, said: “Reimagining and renewing the places we live, work and play is one of the best ways for an incoming government to tackle some of the country’s most palpable crises – from soaring energy, housing and health costs, to hollowed out town centres, communities repeatedly hit by flooding and overheating, and the breakdown of our climate and nature.

“The built environment industry stands ready to help as an active partner, but any government wanting to show big tangible improvements will need to put their shoulder behind a much bolder approach than we’ve seen up to now. That means leadership from the top, comprehensive long-term strategies that communities and investors can get behind, and a step-change in government investment surgically targeted where it’s most needed.

“This must include a new national plan for the UK’s cold and draughty homes, which waste expensive energy out of every uninsulated wall, roof and door. A national home retrofit programme is common sense, it ticks so many boxes: it will bring down bills, make homes more comfortable, healthy, and reduce the country’s carbon emissions, while generating skilled new jobs and saving billions for the NHS. Couple this with tree-lined streets to ease air pollution, overheating and flooding, greener new developments and upgrading our public and commercial buildings and you have a package that voters will really notice.” 

National retrofit

As part of a national retrofit programme, the manifesto also calls for the introduction of an Energy Saving Stamp Duty that incentivises homeowners to make sustainable upgrades to their homes.

This would, UKGBC, says, drive a long-term mass-scale sustainable market for measures such as insulation, heat pumps and solar panels. 

The manifesto is focused on four areas:

  1. Making sustainable home insulation upgrades easy, affordable and attractive
  1. Making new developments high quality, well-connected and green 
  1. Protecting communities from climate risks
  1. Renewing town centres

Within these areas, the UKGBC is calling for a suite of “powerful policies” aimed at transforming the country’s built environment, which is responsible for 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions. This is essential for the UK to meet its carbon reduction commitments and deliver more resilient, productive and healthier communities. 

Other key policy elements in the manifesto include: 

  • Require landlords to upgrade homes to EPC C by 2030
  • Modernise the planning system so every decision supports our national nature and climate goals
  • Introduce stronger building standards to drive down energy bills and climate emissions and drive up quality
  • Introduce restrictions on the upfront ‘embodied’ carbon emissions from constructing new buildings
  • Prioritise climate protection with a funded national plan and Cabinet Office oversight
  • Modernise the Landlord & Tenant Act to drive uptake in Green Leases for commercial real estate
  • Require owners to upgrade large commercial buildings to EPC B by 2030

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