British Gas has launched Green Streets, Britain's energy saving challenge, and warned that too much focus on 'homes of the future' could undermine the UK's chances of meeting its stated targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% from 1990 levels by 2050.

As a result of poor insulation, GBP1 in every GBP3 spent heating homes in the UK is wasted – and the current trend of focusing on the standards of new build housing fails to address this issue. Green Streets, a year-long social experiment that is being monitored and analyzed by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), will demonstrate what can be achieved by households up and down the country in existing homes.

While building regulations require all new homes to be ‘carbon neutral’ by 2016, projections show that, by 2050, less than one in four (22%) homes will be ‘new’ (built between 2007 and 2050 rather than houses we already live in now). British Gas has also revealed new data showing that the poor energy efficiency of London’s housing made it Britain’s green city, with Kingston upon Thames its least green borough, while Hull topped the league for energy saving.

Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas, said: For every GBP3 we spend heating our homes GBP1 is wasted because of poor insulation. And whilst strict standards on new build are needed, most of the energy being consumed is in the ageing homes we live in today. It is making changes in these properties that will give us the biggest carbon emission reductions. I am confident that the ‘Green Streets’ campaign will show that simple changes can be made to adapt existing homes to help address this problem.