Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Issues in Retrofitting Low Carbon Solutions for Residential Homes: A Critical Review

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Issues in Retrofitting Low Carbon Solutions for Residential Homes: A Critical Review

Article excerpt


"We drastically need to cut emissions from all sectors, but the built environment offers the best cost effective opportunity to do that. We have the technology and the know-how in the industry, but we haven't managed to mainstream these yet. So, the drive to cut carbon emission, quest for sustainability has put new challenges to engineers (i.e. doing more with less) ". Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council cited by Bhuiyan et al., 2015."

The International Carbon Dioxide (C[O.sub.2]) emission fiasco

Energy efficiency and climate change are topical issues over the world. Climate change has been a worldwide issue over the recent decades with substantial increase in global temperatures and extreme weather conditions (Nelson et al., 2010 cited in Low et al., 2014). For example, in the UK, the domestic building sector contributes about 23% of the national greenhouse gas emissions (Allen et al., 2008). Elsewhere, buildings contribute up to 40% of the use of energy and materials in Sweden (Byggsektorns, 2001; OECD, 2003). In China, buildings consume about 28% of the national energy consumption (Chen et al., 2012), with 95% of the existing buildings are categorized as high-energy buildings (Xu et al., 2013). It has been estimated that buildings provide the greatest potential for climate change mitigation (Pachauri et al., 2007; McKinsey, 2009).

Many countries and politicians worldwide are now taking actions to fight global warming and remedy its adverse consequences. This includes embarking on sustainable development. The construction of green and sustainable homes is one of the focus areas of sustainable development to improve the quality of living (Ezeanya, 2004; Tan, 2012; Tan, 2013). Houses are considered 'green' when they use environmentally friendly materials for construction such as recyclable timber products, recyclable roof systems, recyclable kitchen cabinets, certified energy efficient appliances, compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diode lighting system (Tan, 2013). According to WHO (2010), housing will have four characteristics: physical entity, provide facilities and feeling of home to occupants, its surrounding environment, and a feeling of neighborhood. 'Healthy Housing' means a quality housing itself, which necessarily need not to be designed with special care in residential setting, but meets the occupants' preference and expectation (Bhuiyan et al., 2015).

The construction industry appears to be one main contributor to the emissions of C[O.sub.2] given that it consumes a large amount of energy (Marsonoa et al., 2015). The construction of buildings and their operation contribute to a large proportion of total energy end-use worldwide (Ma et al., 2012). In the building sector, most energy is consumed by existing buildings while the replacement rate of existing buildings by the new-build is only around 1.0-3.0% per annum. A building has a very long life-span, sometimes more than 100 years. During such a long period, a lot of repairs must be done or else the building will become dilapidated (Gustafsson, 2001).

Currently, residential buildings represent 65% of the global total sectorial emissions, and 35% for commercial buildings (Zaid et al., 2015; Baumert et al., 2005). However, the occupants of the residential building may not be conscious of their existing residential building impact on the environment. Since the replacement rate of existing buildings only around 1.0-3.0% per annum (Ma et al., 2012). Upgrading properties through sustainable retrofit can reduce energy use and carbon emission of existing residence (Swan et al., 2013). Sustainable retrofit is adopted to address the three energy-policy aims of the UK government; climate change, fuel poverty and energy security (Department for Trade Industry (DTI), 2006, 2007; Swan et al., 2013).

In the scholarly literature, modernization, retrofit and refurbishment are used interchangeably (Bell and Lowe, 2000; Hong et al. …

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