Scale of Retrofit Industry Huge

3rd December, 2012

More capacity is needed in the supply chain if it is to deliver retrofit at scale, in line with the government’s green deal initiative. This is one of the findings of an analysis of eight London projects in the Technology Strategy Board’s Retrofit for the Future housing programme.

The study, which was undertaken by the Institute for Sustainability and UCL Energy Institute, found that the supply chains needed to support large-scale retrofit are underdeveloped. It identified both a lack of experienced retrofit practitioners and difficulty in sourcing the products and technologies required. The researchers say there are significant opportunities for the industry in both these areas, which would be aided by further trials at whole street and neighbourhood scale that build on the experience of the Retrofit for the Future programme.

Eight projects consisting of 10 homes were selected for the research, taken from the 25 retrofit projects funded by the Retrofit for the Future programme in the London area. House types in the sample included semi-detached, detached and terraced properties built between the late 19th and late 20th centuries.

Other findings of the research include:

Successful retrofits in the sample appeared roughly to halve carbon emissions, supported higher internal temperature and levels of comfort, and generated high or very high occupant satisfaction levels
Better integrated project teams were more likely to be successful – they engaged and communicated more effectively with occupants, implemented superior design solutions, managed occupant expectations of disruption more successfully, and produced higher quality handover information. They were also better at supporting and building in learning to the process for the project team and its members.

High levels of ‘problem retrofits’ are very likely to adversely affect the occupant experience and produce low satisfaction levels. This could prejudice the rollout of domestic retrofit nationally. At present, the costs of deep retrofit significantly exceed the likely limits on expenditure under the green deal. However, costs will reduce significantly as the scale of retrofit delivery ramps up, stimulating new economies and up-skilling in supply chains. Payback measurement does not consider other values such as improved quality of life for occupants, value added to the property or better health outcomes. It is also important to note that optimal cost of the retrofit was not the primary goal of the project which was set up to encourage innovative, collaborative 'whole house' design delivering deep, 80 percent carbon reductions beyond current UK practice.

Ian Short, chief executive of the Institute for Sustainability, said: “The findings identify a number of areas where focus and investment could help scale up domestic retrofit to the levels needed. These include supply chain capacity, occupant engagement and retrofit project management practices."

The full findings of the research will be launched soon, while the Technology Strategy Board will release a detailed analysis and data from the whole Retrofit for the Future programme Spring 2013.

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