Energy efficiency in housing : drivers and barriers to improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in private sector housing
Global environmental degradation is one of the most serious threats facing humankind as a result of the expansion of its activities around the globe. Scientific evidence is growing that greenhouse gas emissions are having a noticeable effect on the earth's climate. Sustainable development has become a global issue and its life cycle influences the life cycles of the whole planet dramatically. As widely accepted, CO2 emissions are the most significant impact on global climate caused by the amount of energy consumed (Kyoto Protocol, 1997). The UK Government has signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and is therefore committed to reducing the emission of six greenhouse gases with carbon dioxide being the most significant to 12.5% lower than the 1990 levels (DEFRA, 2000). The Government has also indicated that it has an aim of further reducing the emissions with an eventual target of 20% below the 1990 levels by 20 10. Energy consumed by the UK building stock approaches 50% of the total while transport is responsible for 28% (DETR, 2000). Accordingly the energy used in housing stock is responsible for about 30% of overall emissions (Shorrock and Walters, 1998), which is a major contributor to global warming and therefore, improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emission within housing stock is a key factor for long term sustainability in the built environment. This research aims to study the energy efficiency standards, CO2 emissions and energy ratings of privately rented, university controlled and approved properties within Sheffield. In general, properties in this particular sector account for about 15% of the total housing stock and demonstrate one of the worst conditions of housing standards in the UK (Revell and Leather, 2000). In this research however, properties analysed have shown better characteristics regarding energy efficiency standards especially when compared to the worst housing examples in the country. This is mainly due to properties being controlled and approved by the university standards/requirements, and resulted in achieving higher energy efficiency standards within the privately rented sector. Case study analysis carried out includes over 200 privately rented properties, showing dwelling conditions and examining efficiency of both water and space heating systems. iii Abstract As a global matter, environmental issues and good building design have also been increasingly important in the UK. For that reason, energy and environmental assessment methods for buildings have been developed in order to accomplish good building design, which could contribute considerably to reducing pollution and improving the environment. These assessment methods identify criteria for a range of issues also concerning the global, national and indoor environments. Due to the importance of building energy and environmental assessment methods, many components have to be discussed for the future of buildings and more emphasis should be paid to encouraging property developers to utilise the appropriate methods in order to design energy conscious buildings. Some of the existing methods concerning 'Environment and Healthy Building' developed and used in the country have been reviewed and discussed in the perspective of global effects. In this study, having chosen university-controlled properties would therefore help to utilise the university authority to take action effectively and play a key role in guiding energy efficiency improvements within privately rented properties. With university authority, potential improvements in these properties can be encouraged and implemented much effectively, whilst existing legislation and policies are inoperative to enforce retrospective energy standards in existing housing. Furthermore, this has a negative impact on private rented sector and comes into being a major barrier for this particular sector. Therefore, this is an opportunity that will not only increase energy standards of the housing stock in Sheffield, but also help to achieve the rate of improvement required by the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 and reduce the overall energy consumption caused by the existing housing stock in the country.