Move would enable major embodied carbon savings, says firm

Mace has called for the adoption of a ‘retrofit first’ principle for non-domestic buildings to be adopted into UK planning policy. 

The recommendation, included a new report published by the firm, aims to promote the re-use and re-purposing of existing non-domestic buildings, which represent 13% of building stock and 23% of carbon emissions from buildings. 

Demolition shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Planning changes could avoid unnecessary demolition

According to Mace, more than 3.5 million non-residential buildings will need to be retrofitted within the next ten years. 

Gareth Lewis, chief executive of Mace Construct, said: “Many buildings may not require demolition and can be transformed and renewed through retrofit into fantastic new assets, savings tonnes of embodied carbon in the process.  

“We are therefore urging the government to mandate consideration of retrofit at the planning stage to avoid unnecessary demolition.  

“However, demolition can sometimes be necessary because of poor design or critical safety reasons, and it’s therefore important we avoid binary debates on new build versus retrofit.  

“If demolition is required, then the reasons for this should be made clear from the onset. Developers should also consider how elements of the building can be retained, reused or recycled – adopting a circular mindset to construction.” 

The retrofit first planning presumption was one of 12 recommendations outlined in the report, which Mace claims would help boost retrofit for commercial and public sector buildings.  

>> Industry retrofit initiative appoints co-directors

These also included providing more clarity on energy efficiency regulations for commercial buildings, reviewing retrofit funding allocations for the public sector and exploring new fiscal incentives around the reuse or recycling of materials in the built environment. 

Mace Consult’s chief executive, Jason Millett, said non-domestic retrofit had “often been overlooked” by policymakers and that it was “critical that this imbalance is addressed”.