National building stocks: addressing energy consumption or decarbonization?

Herring, Horace (2009). National building stocks: addressing energy consumption or decarbonization? Building Research & Information, 37(2) pp. 192–195.



The Building Research & Information special issue titled 'Climate Change: National Building Stocks' (2007) focused attention on the potential that the national building stock has in reducing CO2 emissions. However, can this potential be realized? To do so requires faith in energy models that suggest that demolition, new build, and the refurbishing of existing homes with insulation measures can deliver massive energy savings by 2050. But why, in the future, can there be increased efficiency and reduced consumption, when this has never occurred in the past? It is argued that the central weakness in the special issue papers is the neglect of the relationship between energy consumption and energy efficiency, and of the 'rebound effect'. The primary goal, should after all, be to reduce carbon emissions rather than energy use. Hence, emphasis should be placed on decarbonizing the centralized energy-supply systems. However, there will be a role here for micro-generation, building on the favourable image that energy efficiency has amongst the public. In 2050, we may be a low-carbon society, but I doubt we will be a low-energy one.

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