Converting all buildings to electric heating is a quicker way of improving air quality in UK cities than the government’s plan for electric vehicles, according to the consultancy WSP.
Such a move could cut emissions by 40%, which is about the same as if all vehicles were to become electric by 2040, in line with the government’s latest pollution policy.
In central London alone, 38% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions come from buildings using gas power, WSP said.
‘It will take a long time to improve our cities’ air quality by converting to electric vehicles,’ said the firm’s associate director for sustainable places, Barny Evans. ‘Alternatively, we can phase out existing gas-heated buildings and make all new buildings electric – with no cost implication and significant health benefits.
‘It is not possible for everyone to go out and buy an electric vehicle tomorrow, but we can mandate that all new buildings are electric only.’
WSP said that electrifying transport was ‘only half the solution, and one that is dictated by technology advances’.
‘It would be faster and cheaper to improve the air we breathe through sensible electric-heating policies, which can take effect now as the technology is already available and being used,’ added Evans.