Leo Rampen

Concrete cuts takes a pragmatic look at reducing emissions

This site is about data driven, high impact ways to reduce emissions. We look at the numbers and propose sensible fixes that will have real impact.

These articles come from my frustration with the narrative on climate change. It’s become increasingly clear that people aren’t going to change radically. To really reduce global emissions we need to find technological solutions. But when global emissions are talked about today we very rarely look at the numbers. We talk about things being “green” or “not green”, but we don’t really talk about how green they are.

I’m a person who cares about climate change, but who isn’t going to radically change my lifestyle. And I suspect there’s lots of people like me. People who really would like to do something, but probably not to change everything.

Buildings are our focus

Keeping buildings at a comfortable temperature is incredibly energy intensive. In the UK we use over a quarter of our energy just to heat buildings. In countries where air conditioning is widespread even more energy is used. All of this energy use is directly contributing towards climate change.

The media are always writing about electric cars, solar panels and reducing flying. But the power usage of our buildings dwarfs all of these. If we’re going to reduce our CO2 emissions we need to start talking seriously about this problem.

The UK uses 27% of its energy to heat buildings. Almost as much as all road vehicles use, almost 3 times as much as air travel.

We need to reduce our carbon emissions quickly to tackle climate change. That means as well as building green power, we need to reduce our energy usage. Just doing one won’t be enough.

Fix Our Buildings

Our buildings are broken. They’re old, built to the standards of past generations, and they’re often poorly constructed and unsympathetically maintained.

This means they’re rubbish at holding in heat. They have draughts, they have no insulation, they have single glazing. We throw 27% of our national resources at heating them and all that energy just leaks straight out into the air.

Our buildings are also heated with fossil fuels. To make heating buildings release no carbon, we need to use different technologies. Mostly this means electricity.

Buildings are unique. This makes these problems hard to fix. Every building is a new project which requires a different approach. All this bespoke work is expensive. Nobody wants the disruption and expense of fixing it, so we just throw more fuel at the problem.