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3D Visual Intelligence Blog

The critical role of buildings in achieving Net Zero

On 27 June 2019, the UK government set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the UK economy by 2050. According to the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), heating homes and buildings accounts for more than 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Most of this can be attributed to heating domestic properties.

With only 5% of homes having low carbon heating, such as electric heat pumps, and biomass boilers, and an aging housing stock with poor energy efficiency, there are very significant challenges ahead to meet the 2050 target. The scale of the task is shown by the switchover to central heating in the 1970s – which took 35 years to increase from 30% to 95% of homes.

homes fit for heroes.png
Homes Fit for Heroes, Dagenham By Glyn Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0,

As ESC have recently pointed out, almost three-quarters of UK local authorities have now declared a climate emergency, but the majority have difficulty accessing the data they need to make informed and effective decisions that will support the development of local energy projects that are key to achieving Net Zero.

Understanding, in detail, the age, characteristics, and use of buildings in an area is essential to model long term energy use and help plan projects that work towards delivering the 2050 target. Several of the organisations leading work in this area have used Geomni UKBuildings data to deliver solutions.

Researchers at the University College London (UCL), working for the Greater London Authority (GLA) created an interactive 3D map of London. The map grades the energy efficiency of more than 3.5 million properties and looks to tackle key issues within the capital including fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions.

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3D Building stock model of London

Detailed data was collected on every building in London, including age, 3D proportions, construction materials, and the nature of the activities on each floor of commercial and public buildings. The unique information available within UKBuildings, specifically building Age and Construction materials were invaluable to the 3DStock Team.

The Energy Systems Catapult used UKBuildings data to understand in detail the energy demands of buildings within a local authority area, and then to identify alternative ways in which these could be met over time. The diagram below from their Local Energy System Modelling and Analysis work shows the potential of District Heating to deliver efficiencies in a specific area.

proportion of domestic buildings with district heating.png
Analysis of current and future use of District Heating by domestic buildings © Crown copyright [and database rights] (2016) OS (100057254), © Local Government Information House Limited copyright and database rights, © The GeoInformation Group 2014, ©EnergyPath is the registered trademark of Energy Technologies Institute LLP

Several other organisations are now also using UKBuildings data to increase their knowledge of building characteristics and help plan future energy needs. The use of standard identifiers such as UPRN ensures Geomni building data can be easily integrated with other data to provide the insights required to deliver on net zero commitments.

Contact us to start understanding more about the makeup of buildings in your area, and how our data can help deliver these critical targets ….