29th September 2023

New-built can compete with retrofit homes in carbon stakes - Financial Times

Edward Williams’s comment on Hugo Cox's "Rebuild or renovate: the embodied carbon conundrum" was published on the Financial Times on the 4th of August 2023.​​​​

​​He shared the outcome of our research that a high quality low embodied carbon new build design is largely similar when compared to a significant retrofit in terms of embodied carbon on a unit area basis (values for embodied carbon in construction of 559 KgCO2e/m2 for the new housing and 460-560 KgCO2e/m2 for the refurbishment projects). To us this was a surprising result given the received wisdom and raises important questions when considering future developments. One lesson is that different projects in different locations require careful thought and analysis to determine the best way forward; refurbishment of existing may not always be best in terms of minimising embodied carbon, a second lesson is that only very sustainable and efficient contemporary design can compete with retrofit. And lastly, when refurbishing existing buildings, we cannot be complacent about carbon emissions in those projects, emissions can still be significant.

Download the PDF letter below.