What’s the point of MMC without retrofitting strategies?


WARNING: This blog post starts with a sobering thought: 90% of the UK’s housing stock that will be in existence in 2050 – the year we’re supposed to achieve our Net Zero targets – has already been built, and almost all of it doesn’t comply with our self-imposed carbon targets. Therefore, retrofitting isn’t a woolly pipe dream that we may or may not take seriously, it’s a must-have that we should be embracing right here and right now.

There are plenty of brand new building projects in our villages, towns and cities already in existence, of course – throw a Frisbee in any direction and the chances are you’ll hit a bulldozer or a crane, or at the very least a construction worker in a yellow vest and a hard hat. All of these properties are likely to conform to higher environmental standards that will help us on the road to Greensville, but spare a thought for all the older properties that will inevitably hold us back.

The fact is that, despite the numerous new developments that are springing up, much of the UK’s housing stock is pretty old. According to a housing survey published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), around 20% of homes in England alone were built before 1919. High proportions were also constructed in other periods  as well, with only 24% being built after 1980.

There’s a pressing need for new homes, most of which will fit in with our greener agenda, but there’s perhaps an even greater need for cohesive retrofitting schemes. Without such initiatives, reaching Net Zero targets will be little more than an impossible dream. Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) has become increasingly prevalent in recent times, and it looks set to play a pivotal role in the industry from now on.

Good news, bad news, good COP, bad COP?

The bad news is there’s a lot of retrofitting that will need to be done, but the good news is that MMC lends itself perfectly to a retrofitting programme. As a result, it’s far easier to change the way a property is heated, the way rooms are illuminated and the way in which ventilation makes the home more comfortable. And of course modular homes being built right now will easily be adapted to any future needs.

Governments, local authorities and industry leaders now need to come together to create workable retrofit strategies that tick all the right boxes. Currently, our homes consume 35% of all the energy produced in the UK and emit a whopping 20% of our national carbon emissions. Things have to change, and change quickly. Now is the ideal time for initiatives to be drawn up. Tomorrow may be too late.

There were many observers who felt that COP26 would have been the perfect opportunity to announce concrete retrofitting plans for the UK, but it didn’t happen. To be fair, there were plenty of other issues that demanded the attention of delegates, including deforestation and the need to make the most of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Now that the event has come to a close, let’s hope that MMC and retrofitting both remain on the immediate agenda. Time will tell, but the clock is already ticking, of course.

Aneela Rose

Aneela Rose

Aneela Rose is Head of PR at Rose Media Group overseeing all research and media related activity across B2B and B2C.

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