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Old houses offer a better way of saving energy and communities, conference hears

The UK could cut energy used in its homes by as much as 80 per cent if it concentrates on renewing old properties rather than building eco-friendly new ones, an academic told a conference today.

Anne Power, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, called for a Government-led renewal of Britain's existing communities which would not only be more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions but would also limit urban sprawl and help communities fight off poverty and decay.

Photograph of a green toy house surrounded by red toy housesThe conference, entitled Can Existing Homes and Communities halve their CO2 Emissions? involves experts from the German National Energy Agency who have begun a national programme to cut the energy use of Germany's homes by 40 per cent by 2020.

Professor Power said: 'If we want to stop building on greenfield sites we need to massively increase the rate at which we renew our existing buildings and urban environments.

'The built environment accounts for 50 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions - our homes are the biggest offenders. Yet we could make huge cuts in the damage they do, at zero net cost over 25 years, with a few simple measures such as proper insulation and the opportunity to "sell back" surplus energy to reduce household bills.

'Germany is already doing this and we should be learning from them. This conference, which brings the German Energy Agency together with people from the UK Government, will be the first step.'

The conference is being hosted by LSE Housing and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. It will be chaired by Jonathon Porritt of the Sustainable Development Commission.

The event is sponsored by 13 organisations including the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Communities and Local Government, the Office of Climate Change, and major environmental NGOs.


For more information contact:

Anne Power 020 7955 6330
LSE Press Office 020 7955 7440

10 December 2008