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Demolish versus Upgrade?

Part 1 Dissertation 2010
Lucy Furniss
University of Lincoln, UK
The UK government have set a target to aid the reduction of carbon emissions; by
2016 all new homes will have to be zero carbon. They have implemented various
policies to help meet that target, including tightening Building Regulations (BR) and
introducing the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH). However these policies concern
only new buildings. What about our existing homes? New build houses only account
for 1% of our total housing stock every year, so what shall we do with the remaining
99%? (Sustainable Development Commission, 2006, p7). If we shift focus towards
existing homes we can make a bigger impact on reducing carbon emissions. The aim
of this dissertation is to explore what can be done with our existing housing stock to
help reduce carbon emissions.
It discusses the two options of how to deal with the existing housing stock.
Either demolish them and build new, or keep them and upgrade. Examples
show how these options have been used in the past. After determining that upgrading our existing homes is the most efficient way to deal with them, I discuss how this can be achieved and possible ways to help change peoples’ thinking.

The conclusion is that it is essential we keep our existing homes for cost, historical and environmental reasons. Older buildings add architectural value and character to a place. They play an important role in creating a sense of identity and communicate our history to
future generations. We should spend the time and money on upgrading what we have
already got as it is more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Lucy Furniss

This dissertation is a highly rigorous piece of research work which deals with an extremely important issue Britain and some of the other developed countries of the world are facing today in terms of climate change. It looks into the wider debates surrounding climate change summits taking place at a global level, and situates within these deliberations, the policy our government has in place in tackling with climate change at home by reducing carbon emissions. Ironically, the entire focus seems to be on bringing down emission targets for new build homes and in all this rush, to achieve some of these new found objectives the existing housing stock seems to have been largely forgotten. This dissertation critically evaluates the benefits and disadvantages of both bringing down the existing houses as well as retaining them as they are a vital part of our history, culture and tradition. Lots of contemporary examples have been looked into where both these approaches have been employed and the consequences of demolition vis-a-vis retaining and possibly upgrading have been studied in detail. Whereever possible primary research has been undertaken. The bulk of the literature review comes from credible electronic sources of information usually government publications and the material reffered to is very recent. Illustrations have been very effectively used to complement the text and make the reading visually rich and a delight. It was a pleasure to guide the student through this dissertation.

Manish Mandhar
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