Demolishing tens of thousands of Victorian and Edwardian homes and building new ones is adding unnecessarily to climate change, researchers said today.

If the 288,000 long-term empty homes in England were used and upgraded to higher efficiency standards, instead of many of them being demolished under Government "Pathfinder" regeneration schemes, it would save the equivalent of three million cars being taken off the roads for a year.

Researchers commissioned by the Government-funded Empty Homes Agency compared the amount of carbon dioxide given off in building new homes and in refurbishing old ones. They found that building a new home emitted four and-a-half times as much carbon dioxide as refurbishing an existing dwelling. They also found that the carbon dioxide emitted as a result of the construction of a new building - from quarrying, brick making and so on - accounted for nearly three times more of a building's lifetime emissions than had been supposed. Previously the amount of energy involved in the construction of a home had been assumed to represent 10 per cent of the energy used over the lifetime of a building.

In fact, energy involved in construction added up to nearly 30 per cent of the emissions over the lifetime of the building, according to the report "New Tricks with Old Bricks; how reusing old buildings can cut carbon emissions."


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