New framework to support local authorities to meet net zero targets with building renovation

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The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), together with the World Green Building Council, several European Green Building Councils, Climate Alliance and the Buildings Performance Institute Europe, has published a framework to support cities and local authorities to measure the impacts and wider benefits of building retrofit.

According to UKGBC, the built environment is directly responsible for 25% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Renovating the UK’s 30 million existing buildings is therefore a key challenge in achieving the ambition to reach net zero carbon by 2050, and will require retrofitting 1.8 homes per minute over the next 25 years. 

Although an enormous challenge, the authors of the framework state, building renovation can bring ‘a multitude’ of broader social and economic benefits in addition to reducing carbon footprint, from eradicating fuel poverty to generating local jobs. 

Simon McWhirter, Director of Communications, Policy & Places at UKGBC, commented:  “The UK is legally bound to deliver net zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050. With the built environment responsible for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon footprint, our buildings have a clear role to play.  

“Building renovation can deliver a triple win for local communities – not only can it deliver significant carbon reductions, but it can also boost local economies through job creation as well as deliver health and wellbeing benefits through improving the quality of our homes – making them warmer, more comfortable and cheaper to run.

“Through optimising the use of high-quality impact data, this framework seeks to support local government in tracking the effectiveness of renovation schemes and ultimately scale up the many benefits wide-scale renovation can bring to communities.”  

The Build Upon Framework defines a suite of Environmental, Social and Economic indicators that can be measured in ‘a simple, standardised way’ at either a city or project level.

From energy consumption to the indoor health of occupants, the 13 indicators can be applied flexibly across a project or city and provide clear guidance on what issues local authorities can and should measure.

It has been developed by a coalition of sustainability organisations and in collaboration with over 30 cities and local authorities across Europe, including Leeds, Cambridge, Hammersmith & Fulham and Essex County Council.

The BUILD UPON Framework can be found on the UKGBC website.