The building industry has fine-tuned its 20-year blueprint to make the UK’s 28m existing homes greener ahead of the government’s imminent release of its heat and buildings strategy.

The Construction Leadership Council, CLC, together with 38 signatories, has written to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng urging for its proposals to be adopted in the forthcoming white paper.

Chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, FMB and CLC’s domestic repairs maintenance and improvements working party chair, Brian Berry, said: “This will help make our homes more comfortable and cheaper to run. This strategy also has the potential to unlock 100,000 new jobs and save 2.53m tonnes of carbon dioxide in the first four years, in return for £5.3bn of government investment. This will support the levelling-up agenda, helping us to build back better and greener.”

The latest retrofit strategy is calling for 20 trial areas in different regional economies across England to pilot a self-sustaining retrofit market. It wants local development orders allowing green refurbishments such as solar panels or heat pumps to go ahead without needing planning approval.

National Federation of Builders, NFB, housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “Old buildings are difficult to retrofit because of the planning process yet these buildings need the most help.”

Long-term policy structure crucial

The building industry would like to see the government adopt a national policy in a similar vein to the current national planning policy framework.

CLC deputy chair Mark Reynolds said: “To deliver on the prime minister’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, the construction industry must work with the government and take action on reducing the environmental impact of our buildings.”

He added he was pleased that the construction industry’s national retrofit strategy was gaining more support leading up to the UN’s climate change conference in Glasgow this November.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said property finance lenders believed a strong green refurbishment sector would allow smaller SME developers to grow.

It’s estimated more than two-thirds of the UK’s existing 28m homes need improvements like retrofitting whether it be wall or loft insulation, improved air tightness or solar panels. The industry needs around 500,000 new professionals and trades to tackle this as well as upskilling the current workforce.

The country’s housing stock is believed to account for 20 per cent of nation’s carbon emissions and 35 per cent of energy use.

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