Carbon management in the existing stock
Admittedly the manoeuvrability of existing buildings to make them low/zero carbon is limited. Nevertheless, existing building stocks present the greatest challenge to carbon management in the built environment. For example in the UK, even with its legislative mandate to decarbonise the economy, nearly 87 per cent of the buildings that will be occupied in 2050 (the year in which UK law requires the economy to have 60 per cent less carbon than it did in 1990) have already been built. New construction in Europe and the United States annually amounts to around 1 per cent of the existing building stock; however, twice that many structures are renovated every year (Butler, 2008). The wastage of energy in existing buildings not only is a carbon problem but also seems to contribute to ill health and even mortality risk (Wilkinson et al., 2007). Thus the opportunities and potential presented by the existing stock are enormous. At the same time, inaction at the renovation stage of buildings locks in carbon wasteful practices for years to come.