The UK government must reduce CO2 emissions from public buildings five-times faster than it is currently to meet its target of a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions from buildings by 2037, according to new research from Internet access provider Neos Networks. The country is on course to miss the commitment by 101 years.

The new Public Building Energy Efficiency Report projects that nine out of ten (91%) public buildings will need upgrading in the next seven years if the UK is to meet its net-zero target. 

The researchers examined the actual energy use and efficiency of more than 450,000 public buildings in England and Wales. They found that, on average, CO2 emissions per square metre have fallen by 0.62% annually over the past 15 years. However, an annual reduction of 3.75% is required to achieve the core goal of a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2037 compared with the 2017 benchmark, as outlined in the UK government’s net-zero and heat and buildings strategies.

“These findings highlight the size of the task ahead if authorities are to meet targets,” said William Harris, senior account director, public sector at Neos Networks, in a press statement. “It is clear that greater support from central government is needed – and investment in network connectivity across public buildings is a crucial first step.” 

“Around 40% of the energy consumed in cities can be attributed to buildings and one of the most effective steps that can be taken to reduce the CO2 emissions from public buildings is to make their energy systems more effective,” added Daniel Scott, vice-president, climate solutions, Northern Europe region at Danish energy technology giant Danfoss. “Heating and cooling are the biggest energy consumers in public buildings and more efforts need to be made to prioritise solutions that use less energy overall.”

Buildings are responsible for around one-third of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.