Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

40% House


The 40% House Project, which ran between 2002 and 2005, sets an agenda for reducing carbon emissions from the UK housing stock by at least 60% by 2050, in line with the UK Government's 2003 Energy White Paper and the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. In drawing up potential policies for low-carbon housing in the UK by 2050, the 40% House report examined:

  • the rate of turnover in the housing stock;
  • the need to integrate more careful use of energy with low- and zero-carbon energy technologies such as heat pumps, solar water heating, photovoltaics and combined heat and power;
  • the urgent need to eliminate fuel poverty;
  • the potential impact of climate change on demand for heating and cooling;
  • ways of minimising any increased demand for cooling;
  • the extent to which peak load electricity load can be reduced;
  • social and cultural factors, such as changes in household size and ideas of comfort.

Through the 40% House project, we brought together vital issues concerning energy, carbon and housing, and propose some radical solutions.

Dwellings in the UK account for about 25% of total carbon emissions. While housing is becoming better insulated with more efficient heating systems, there is a trend towards more space and more appliances per person, with higher standards of comfort. Fuel poverty is still affecting over 3 million households. Overall demand for energy by domestic buildings has not stopped rising, while the signals that the climate is changing are increasing. The debate on housing includes the issue of high house prices in some parts of the country and uncertainty about where to build the millions of new homes that will be needed. The UK will probably meet its obligations under the Kyoto Agreement, but the prospects of reaching its more ambitious but necessary targets are receding. The challenge of a 60% reduction in residential emissions is huge – but possible.

40% House conference presentations

  • Opening Speech
    Lord Whitty, Minister for Farming, Food and Sustainable Energy
  • 40% housing for the UK
    Brenda Boardman - Prospects for achieving 40% housing
    Sarah Darby - People
  • Building fabric and cooling
    Gavin Killip – Building regulations & fabric improvements
    Sukumar Natarajan – Cooling
  • Heat and power
    Andrew Peacock – Lights and appliances
    Dr Mark Hinnells – Low & zero carbon technologies
    Prof. Marcus Newborough – Peak load
  • Future framework
    Tina Fawcett – Personal carbon allowances
    Professor Tadj Oreszcyn – Energy efficiency and energy use
  • 40% house scenario [PDF: 2.35MB]
    Dr Brenda Boardman - Overview

Project details