Sustainability measures possible on even the most difficult buildings
Housing contributes to up to 40% of the global Carbon Dioxide emissions which are currently causing severe climate change and threatening the planet’s ecosystem. Specifically, the heating and cooling of houses is a huge drain on resources and improving the efficiency of this is a vital task.
Today, new build homes are designed with energy efficiency as a key concern, but what about existing stock which is being retrofitted? Often the most prohibitive aspect of such a refurbishment is the building itself – for instance, the existing structure of the building may prohibit the installation of any new insulation or the implementation of measures to improve airtightness.
One of the toughest types of buildings to convert in the UK is the Listed building. If a building has Listed status for being of historical interest then it gains special protections when Planning Permission is considered for changes. With regards to a conversion, this impacts most often on the building’s windows being untouchable – a key area developers normally look at to make energy efficiency savings.
However, being Listed does not necessarily mean that sustainability is a lost cause. This week, developer Grosvenor confirmed that their 119 Ebury Street development in West London became the first ever retrofit to receive a BREEAM Outstanding rating – the most stringent sustainability rating that a refurbishment can achieve in the UK.
This success perhaps points to a key truth about the UK housing industry and the planning process as a whole – from start to finish, profit is the key concern. Developments such as 119 Ebury Street prove that with the right attitude, a certain amount of perseverance and the willingness to invest in the property, truly sustainable development is possible. All that remains is the will to make sure it happens.