Report calls for “green” training for builders and tradesmen and boosting the appeal of low carbon homes to households

A report from the UK Green Building Council on greening the UK’s existing housing stock – highlighted in Building and Contract Journal – calls for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 with interim targets every 5 years.

According to the “Low carbon existing homes” report, low carbon refurbishment presents a major business opportunity, worth between £3.5bn and £6,5bn a year, and the creation of tens of thousands of new “green collar” jobs.

The UK GBC is also suggesting that homeowner’s could be required to take measures such as installing new boilers or thicker insulation before they can be granted an Energy Performance Certificate, part of the Home Information Pack

The report's author, Jo Wheeler, senior policy adviser at UKGBC, told Building that homeowners could fund the improvements via a proposed loan scheme linked to the property that would be paid back over 25 years at 5.3%. The loan would effectively pay for itself through savings on fuel bills, she said.

But Richard Turkington, director of Housing Vision, told Building magazine that the recommendation was likely to fall on deaf ears in the current economic climate. 'Anything that places additional costs on vendors will be resisted. There is evidence that people are willing to pay a small premium of between 2% and 5% for a standard house that would be more environmentally sound,' he said.

The report also called for: legislation to improve the worst performing homes and make better use of EPCs; measures to ensure householders have access to information on low-carbon refurbishment; and training to give builders green refurbishing skills.

Contract Journal’s take on the UKGBC report, which is intended to inform a forthcoming government consultation on reducing carbon emissions from the UK’s housing stock, highlights the role of 'green' project managers on refurbishment jobs.

Oxford University researcher Gavin Killip said: “To be really effective, someone has got to look at projects as a whole. There needs to be an intelligent person who understands how a building works and who can manage the trades.”