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Lifetime Emissions of Eco Retrofit versus New Build

Radian’s September 2011 report confirms that it is less carbon intensive to refurbish even existing ‘hard to treat’ homes than to demolish them and build new homes.

Radian Group’s assertion is based on the analysis of a small estate of refurbished properties in Borough Grove, Petersfield. These hard to heat homes were eco renovated to an advanced energy performance standard in 2009/10 resulting in an 88% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Radian’s study judges that eco renovation has made these homes good for an additional 50 year life span. It finds their carbon impact to be lower than that of new build timber frame and brick and block buildings even when these are delivered to the Zero Carbon Hub’s recommended Carbon Compliance standard for 2016 (ZCH 2016).

The report calculates that the advanced retrofit home has the lowest total lifetime emissions at 139 tCO2. This is 27% less than the 191 tCO2 of a new brick house built to 2010 Building Regs. It also anticipates in-use emissions will be comparable to those of a new home built to ZCH 2016 standards.

The carbon advantage or retrofit compared to new build is partly explained by the need to move huge quantities of materials from A to B when a building is demolished or built from scratch. The  type of machinery used to clear and erect homes also tends to be carbon intensive, usually requiring diesel fuel.

The install cost of advanced eco refurbishment of the homes at Borough Grove averaged around £92k. This compares to the estimated £145k it would have cost to demolish these homes and deliver new buildings of equivalent advanced energy performance. Both figures here include the cost of alternative accommodation for residents during the works.

Also See:
Borough Grove Low Carbon Refurbishment Interim Case Study

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