A new joint Economic and Social Research Council and Technology Strategy Board publication highlights the need to focus on improving the energy efficiency of millions of buildings in Britain that will still be standing in 2050.

'How people use and 'misuse' buildings' coincides with a report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee which calls on the government to make retrofitting existing buildings a priority in the Government's �535 million green stimulus plan.

The publication highlights that twenty-seven per cent of UK carbon emissions come from domestic buildings - twice the emissions of commercial and public buildings and five times that of industrial buildings.

The Government has targets for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016, but existing buildings will need to be radically refurbished if we are to meet national and international emissions targets, the report says. Large-scale refurbishment is only part of the answer.

The effectiveness of energy-saving technologies, such as digital heat controls and meters, ultimately depends on human behaviour. Dr David Shipworth, University College, London, explains that the occupants of buildings do not always understand or use these devices in the way their designers intended. He says that policymakers urgently need more research based on real energy use in real homes to test and support their ideas.