Refurb & Retrofit

‘Accelerator Cities’ project aims to boost home retrofit rates

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) brings together cities and experts to increase energy efficient retrofit programmes

The UKGBC has launched the next phase of its Accelerator Programme to help tackle the challenge posed by the country’s cold and thermally inefficient housing stock.

With the cost to the NHS of cold homes estimated to be £1.4bn and carbon emissions associated with the energy use in homes a major barrier to  achieve net zero carbon by 2050, the UKGBC says that improvements will need to be made to almost all of the UK’s 29 million homes. That equates to the retrofit of energy efficiency measures to 1.8 homes every minute between now and 2050. That would require more than 150,000 skilled and semi-skilled construction jobs to 2030.

“Home retrofit is a triple-win that supports all three goals”

John Alker

Therefore, with funding from EIT Climate-KIC, Accelerator Cities was launched as a ‘pathfinder’ project in 2019, partnering with five cities to analyse what support they needed to galvanise greater action on low carbon home retrofit.

The UKGBC believes that local authorities (LAs) and combined authorities (CAs) are best placed to deliver retrofit programmes to meet the challenge and help the government meet its manifesto commitment to lowering ‘energy bills by investing £9.2bn in the energy efficiency of homes, as well as schools and hospitals.

“There is a critical need to improve the nation’s health, reduce carbon emissions and create long-lasting economic benefits,” says John Alker, UKGBC’s Director of Policy and Places. “Home retrofit is a triple-win that supports all three goals,” he continues, adding that while central government is still key, cities and local authorities are stepping up to play a crucial leadership role.

For example, Greater Manchester’s Five Year Environment Plan aims to drive down its emissions and become carbon neutral by 2038, while the West Midlands Combined Authority has a target date of 2041.

“A regional retrofit programme will play a vital role in helping us achieve this, as well as bringing many other social, environmental and economic benefits,” says Jacqueline Homan, Head of Environment at West Midlands Combined Authority.

However, the 2019 pathfinder project found that LAs and CAs needed support to co-ordinate the activities to maximise efficiencies and enable a collaborative approach at the city level.

“A regional retrofit programme will play a vital role

Jacqueline Homan

So, now with calls for a post-Covid-19 ‘green recovery’ high on the public and political agenda, the UKGBC has secured further co-funding from EIT-Climate KIC to take the Accelerator Cities project forward.

Priorities for Accelerator Cities 2020 include:

  • Develop and implement city-wide Home Retrofit Strategies, and a Retrofit ‘Policy Playbook’ with detailed guidance and a ‘live’ monitoring/tracking of cities with active home retrofit policies.
  • Develop funding propositions between cities and the finance sector, to fund the cost of whole house, deep retrofit for different tenure types.
  • Support cities in understanding their local supply chain capacity and training needs.
  • Support effective engagement that motivates and support householders to take action on home retrofit.

Accelerator Cities 2020 city partners, include Birmingham City Council, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Greater London Authority, Leeds City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority.

A range of other expert stakeholders are also on board, including the Active Building Centre, Bioregional, Energy Saving Trust, Green Alliance, Otley Energy, Places in Common, RetrofitWorks and UK100.

Image credit:

House Buy Fast, Terraced houses in Worthing (CC by 2.0)

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