Energy efficiency in the UK’s buildings: key priorities for the new government


The case for energy efficiency

The Conservative manifesto (2017) promised to deliver “Competitive and affordable energy”, but there is little detail on how this will be achieved. This briefing will discuss how energy efficiency is the most cost effective way of meeting the Manifesto promise – the cheapest energy is the energy that is not used in the first place.

Government’s first question must be: what are the opportunities for the UK to be more efficient with the energy that we use? Reducing energy demand through greater efficiency can help the UK meet its legally binding climate targets, limit increases in energy bills, tackle fuel poverty, and drive economic growth, job creation and business investment in skills. It can tackle the health costs to the NHS and winter deaths associated with cold homes, while better quality commercial spaces can support greater productivity for those who work within them. Developing policies to support better efficiency for businesses and the public sector would save £570m per year.

However, the Committee on Climate Change reports a lack of progress in reducing emissions across the UK’s building stock, insufficient uptake of low carbon heat and insulation and a failure to make any meaningful reduction in non-residential buildings’ emissions. This is despite a potential saving of 23.6MtCO2 per year by 2030 through energy efficiency, which is roughly equivalent to cutting the CO2 emissions of the UK transport fleet by one third.

[1]The UK’s building stock is responsible for 19% of total UK domestic greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the UK’s legally binding climate commitments cost effectively, these emissions must be reduced by 20% from 2016 levels, by 2030. Committee on Climate Change, June 2017, Meeting Carbon Budgets: Closing the Policy Gap
[2] UKGBC (June 2014) A Housing Stock Fit for the Future: Making home energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority
[3] Imperial College London (April 2016) Managing Heat System Decarbonisation
[4] UKGBC (February 2017) Building Places That Work For Everyone
[5] The Association for Decentralised Energy (September 2015) Less Waste, More Growth
[6] Committee on Climate Change (June 2016) Meeting Carbon Budgets: Progress Report to Parliament
[7] Cambridge Econometrics and Verco (2014) Building the Future: The economic and fiscal impacts of making homes energy efficient