Like many other countries around the world the UK is working towards carbon emission targets in a bid to meet climate change goals. While the UK is progressing could failed cavity wall extractions mean that the carbon savings in UK households are skewed?

In 2014 the UK managed to cut its emissions by 35% when compared to 1990 levels and while it’s an impressive amount it still falls well below the end goal. By mid-century the UK needs to reduce carbon emissions by 80% to meet its carbon budget. Industry and businesses contribute significantly to the amount of carbon the UK produces but to meet the future target it’s estimated that domestic emissions will need to fall by at least 3% every year.

Part of the way the government plans to continue cutting emissions is by improving the housing stock in the UK. Many homes across the county are old and don’t meet current building standards in regards to their efficiency and encouraging retrofitting was seen as a way to boost the energy performance of households. The Green Deal was set up in 2012 and officially launched in 2013 to permit loans for energy saving measures for properties across the country. While the project is no longer funded by the government, it offered homeowners loans for measures such as double glazing, micro renewable energy generation and insulation.

One of the steps some homeowners were recommended to take under the Green Deal was cavity wall insulation, with the aim of reducing heat lost through external walls to cut energy bills. It’s an option that thousands of homeowners choose to install in their homes and the estimated carbon savings these steps would bring have been considered.

However, poor recommendations and workmanship means that some cavity wall insulation must be removed at a later date because it’s damaging the property, for example causing damp or cracking in the walls. While the industry continues to insist that such problems are rare, research published in the Telegraph indicates that as many as 3 million homes across the country could be affected by failing cavity wall insulation, some of which will have been conducted under the Green Deal.

As the insulation is removed from the home so too are the carbon savings the measure should make. While authorities must be informed if cavity wall insulation is being installed, this isn’t the case when it’s removed. As a result, estimated carbon savings could be skewed if the amount of removals that may be necessary aren’t taken into consideration.

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