The built environment is causing one-third of the problem in climate change. There is a plan to reduce this figure, and this is summarised today (5 March) by a report by the Green Construction Board showing how the built environment needs to do far more than it is currently if the UK as a whole can hope to meet the target of 80% less carbon emissions by 2050.
The report is called a Low Carbon ‘Routemap’ for the Built Environment. In short, they conclude that,
“It is technically possible to deliver the government’s target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions in the built environment [by 2050] … however, this would require maximum uptake of technically viable solutions in all sectors, including implementation of technologies that at present do not have a financial return on investment over their lifetime. Delivering this [outcome] is dependent on improving the economic viability of technical solutions and addressing market failures.” (p84, emphasis added)
The report also assumes a ‘slow but steady’ decline in emissions from now to 2050, however many critics now say that ‘urgent and large’ drops in emissions are needed soon if there is any chance to avoid a 4C average global warming this century.
The energy used by people within buildings, at home, work and play, accounts for 36% of all the UK’s carbon emissions. It is more than transport, and is more than the amount used by industry. Most of the energy is used for heating buildings, then hot water, then lighting, and finally for cooling and ventilation. The exception is found in shops, where more energy is used for lighting than for heating.
The development of the Routemap was managed by WRAP, with Arup and the Climate Centre to provide technical support. Their analysis shows the UK Built Environment was responsible for almost 210 MtCO2e of emissions in 1990 and just over 190 MtCO2e in 2010. One MtCO2e is one mega or million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The “e” at the end means that other greenhouse gases (such as methane) are included with their equivalent greenhouse strength. One tonne of methane gas released into the atmosphere, for example, is as bad as roughly 40 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Link to GCS Resources page:
Link to Routemap report (77 Pages):