Street and on-street terrace Georgian housing in the Heritage Action zone of Ramsgate.
Liverpool Lawn, Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent © Historic England DP251333
Liverpool Lawn, Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent © Historic England DP251333

Reducing Carbon Emissions in Traditional Homes

Buildings, including homes, are the third largest producers of carbon emissions in the UK today. Homes alone account for 13% of all the UK’s carbon emissions. As England has one of the oldest building stocks in Europe, with a fifth of all homes being over a century old, we need to reduce the carbon emissions from our historic homes.

This year’s Heritage Counts report highlights the difference repair and maintenance can make, the power of small behaviour changes and the need for careful planning when thinking about retrofits and renovations.

Homeowners and occupiers can take various steps or approaches when thinking about carbon reductions and their home, these include:

  • Understanding your home
  • Keeping up with small repairs
  • Turning down the thermostat and other small behavioural changes
  • Consider appropriate energy efficiency measures
  • Speaking to a professional

Carbon reduction scenarios in the built historic environment

Researchers from the University of the West of England (UWE) were commissioned to evaluate the opportunities for England’s pre-1919 buildings to contribute to reducing emissions in the built environment. The research developed five building examples that best represent the diverse nature of the pre-1919 domestic housing stock in England. Retrofit strategies were designed for each example, considering appropriate energy efficiency and low carbon heating measures that reduce CO₂ emissions. Using realistic costs and installation rates (up to 2050), the total emission savings from deploying the measures to approximately 3.2 million traditional homes were then estimated.

Understanding carbon in the historic environment

This report builds on the 2019 Heritage Counts research, utilising modelled life cycle assessments and real-world data to estimate the whole life carbon emissions associated with the refurbishment and retrofit of different domestic homes. These are compared against a modelled scenario of demolishing existing homes and replacing them with new buildings. The addendum to the initial research includes three new case studies.

Parity Projects, 2021, Energy-saving retrofit opportunities for pre-1919 homes

Data led research presenting a range of measures that can be applied to eight specific building types. The modelled costs and carbon savings provide indicative estimates for each type. The data is available on request.

Heritage Counts

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