Phasing the way forward while 97% of net zero work still ahead

Only 3% of buildings that will require retrofitting to make them ready for the 2050 Net Zero deadline have so far been upgraded according to Anna Tsartsari, head of ESG and sustainability at BE Design.

“It’s a big challenge at the moment, 80% of the buildings that exist today will be here in 2050,” she said. “So we’ve got a huge volume of assets to deal with and upgrade.”

The challenge is even greater in Germany where 2045 is the chosen target. “We’ve got a time frame and we shouldn’t leave it all for the end,” Tsartsari said.

There are low-hanging fruit including installation of LED lighting, super efficient photo voltaic panels and air source heat pumps. However, insulating buildings should be the first objective.

“The fabric-first approach is definitely key because we need to reduce the energy demand before we start bringing in renewable, but this is a big cost so maybe clients don’t want to invest all this money up front,” Tsartsari told Real Asset Insight’s Richard Betts.

She said that the solution is more of a phased approach where the situation is assessed, baselines are set, and then retrofitting takes place with priorities set over a number of years rather than attempting to do everything in one go.

“Obviously, there’s always the difficulty of having space empty to do any retrofitting so this needs to be worked out with leasing agreements, expiry or re-leasing to be able to fit in all the works required.”