Keepmoat's director of sustainability explains the thinking behind the Great British Refurb campaign
If you picture the “home of the future”, you are likely to think of zero-carbon new build, with the latest in renewable technology and energy-saving kit. I wouldn't downplay the importance of that agenda – in fact we are already working on a number of projects to levels five and six of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
But for me, the “home of the future” looks pretty much like the home of the past. Just with massively reduced energy use, carbon emissions and lower energy bills. Green refurbishment is an area of growing significance for Keepmoat, and that's why we put our money where our mouth is by sponsoring the Grand Designs “Great British Refurb” campaign, supported by the UK Green Building Council and others.
We all know the statistics. Up to 85% of the homes standing in 2050 have already been built. So the 80% or more carbon reductions that need to happen by that date have to come from our existing homes and communities over the next few decades.
Up to 85% of the homes standing in 2050 have already been built. So the carbon reductions have to come from our existing homes
I often hear people say that's too difficult. But our experience says otherwise. One of our exemplar projects is in the Daneville estate in Liverpool. Through one of our delivery companies, Bramall Construction, we worked in partnership with Liverpool Mutual Homes to transform around 600 properties that were in a pretty bad state of repair.
The renovations included a fully insulated structural render system, insulated roof spaces, new boilers and central heating systems, electrical rewiring, new windows and doors, and external improvements such as new walls and railings. It led to a massive 74% reduction in carbon emissions compared with the average UK household.
Green refurbishment is too often seen as a middle-class concern. But what this project showed is that reducing carbon emissions can go hand in hand with community regeneration. The scheme brought some dilapidated homes back to life, and the social landlord now has a waiting list for houses on the estate and a 100% take-up of empty properties. Not only that, but residents' bills were cut by a staggering £534 a year on average.
Green refurbishment is too often seen as a middle-class concern. But reducing carbon emissions can go hand in hand with community regeneration
In other projects in which we've been involved, particularly on properties that are expensive to treat, the savings on energy bills have been quite modest in today's prices - but as we saw from Ofgem's recent report, fuel prices are only going one way. Massively reduced energy use will help protect against this.
One lucky person won't have to worry about those increased fuel prices. The Great British Refurb has teamed up with the 10:10 campaign to launch a nationwide competition to win a whole-house retrofit, delivered by Keepmoat. We're guaranteeing a 50% cut in carbon emissions, energy use and energy bills by a combination of energy-saving measures and renewable technology where appropriate, worth at least £15,000. Go to http://www.1010uk.org/future-home by 10 November to enter. Just remember - no mansions!