Saturday 21 July 2012

Houses in 1921 'Emitted 2.5 Times More Carbon Emissions Than Today

A Building Research Establishment (BRE) report looking at key changes in the UK housing stock shows that carbon dioxide emissions from houses in 1921 were 2.5 times higher than they are today.
BRE has published a report looking at the key changes and improvements that have been made to the UK's housing stock since 1921. The report focuses particularly on changes that have had an effect on standards of living, energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.
"There have been many changes to the UK's housing over the last 90 years," said Janet Utley, one of the authors of the report. "The increase in amenities [is] one of the most obvious – we would not now expect to have a house without a bathroom or indoor toilet."
“While some of the changes are entirely what might have been expected, there are some surprising facts,” added co-author Les Shorrock. “In particular, the average home in 1921 consumed around double the energy of the average home now, and carbon dioxide emissions were almost 2.5 times as high. However, the number of households has also grown by a factor of about 2.5, so the carbon dioxide emissions of the entire housing stock are now in fact relatively similar to the emissions in 1921.”
Other key changes noted in the report include reduced household sizes, a greater proportion of people owning their own homes, and most homes being insulated and centrally heated. The increased availability of electricity has also led to huge growth in the availability and ownership of a wide range of household electrical appliances. Another reason could be the increased number of people moving away from inefficient and drafty open fires to gas fires or stoves to provide the additional heating, that are increasing in efficiency almost year on year.
The report considers what the housing stock will need to look like in 2050 to meet the UK government’s target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% on 1990 levels, and the scale of the challenge that this presents.
“What has been achieved in the past is very substantial, but also provides an important reality check on the feasibility of achieving such large-scale changes over the next 40 years,” said Shorrock.

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