Campaign to insulate Britain’s homes

Insulate Britain have gained significant momentum in the past month. The campaign group have blockaded the M25 five times in the past ten days – demanding that Boris Johnson and the UK government take urgent action and make a meaningful commitment to ensure Britain’s housing stock is properly insulated by 2030.

Insulate Britain’s campaign aligns with Architecture for London’s goals for sustainable design.


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The UK needs to ensure that the majority of homes are properly insulated to reduce carbon emissions and protect vulnerable people. The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) published a report in 2019 on UK housing’s readiness for climate change. One of the CCC’s key findings is that the efforts to adapt the UK’s housing stock are falling far below what is necessary to keep the country safe and comfortable as climate change risks rise.

The CCC have advised the UK government that retrofitting existing homes to ensure they are low-carbon and resilient, needs to be prioritised and supported by the Treasury.

Climate Emergency

The UK has declared a climate emergency and decisive action needs to be taken to mitigate climate change. The destruction of the planet is having a devastating effect on all life, including humans. The UK needs to do more to protect the people who are the most vulnerable to climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently published the sixth IPCC report.

The findings have made it clear that everyone needs to act quickly to avoid the worst-case scenarios of climate change. Even with this, Britain can still expect to experience more extreme weather – heatwaves, heavier rains, and flash flooding.

As it stands, the UK’s housing stock is not fit for the climate crisis. Around two-thirds of homes in the UK have reported suffering draughts, damp, mould or overheating. Low thermal efficiency means that more energy is wasted in trying to heat our homes.

According to Catapult ES, around 13-14% of the UK’s carbon emissions are from heating our homes.

 

Ensuring that every home in the UK is properly insulated is one of the easiest and most cost-effective measures to reduce carbon emissions. This would have the added benefit of creating homes that are better able to withstand extreme temperatures and weather patterns, which the UK has already started to experience.

UK energy crisis

Wholesale energy prices in the UK have surged to a record high. Although there are several factors for this, one of the main reasons is an increased global demand for gas.

Ministers have held recent crisis talks with UK energy suppliers to discuss how serious the situation may become as the colder months draw in. The Guardian has warned that this winter’s energy prices will be at the highest in over a decade, forcing an additional half a million people into fuel poverty.

Over 80% of households in the UK rely on gas to heat their homes

 

While a transition to low-carbon heating systems will reduce CO2 emissions, a more holistic approach is necessary to adapt UK homes to the risks of climate change. Ensuring that all UK homes are properly insulated will reduce the energy required for heating and provide more comfortable housing.

Architects in support of Insulate Britain

Benjamin Derbyshire, former president of the RIBA, is a supporter of the campaign. “Britain has the leakiest and poorest performing housing in Europe,” he said. “We have no chance of achieving net zero carbon by 2025 unless we begin to treat housing as infrastructure and invest in it, so that like all other forms of infrastructure, it is accessible, well designed, safe to use and, most of all, environmentally sustainable.”

An Edwardian terrace was extended and refurbished to create a comfortable, low energy house by Architecture for London.


Benefits of improved insulation

  • A more comfortable living environment, keeping the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer
  • Improve air quality, reducing moisture and damp
  • Reduce carbon emissions and energy bills

Insulate social housing

The recent protests from Insulate Britain have focused on demanding the government to fully fund and install insulation in all UK social housing by 2025. This would help ensure that Britain’s decarbonisation is just and fair.

The protest group are also calling on the UK government to create a plan to ensure that every home in Britain is properly insulated by 2030. This is one of the many changes required if the UK is to meet its commitments to the Paris Agreement and keep global warming below 1.5°C.


Architecture for London specialise in sustainable architecture, working with our clients to improve the thermal and energy efficiency of their homes. For more information, read about EnerPHit certification and Passivhaus standards.

If you’d like to discuss improving the thermal efficiency of your home, contact us on 020 3637 4236. Alternatively, visit our portfolio to view our recent work.


Insulate Britain have drafted a petition for the government to fund and install suitable insulation to all social housing by 2025.