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Government-backed coalition calls for mass retrofitting drive

Shutterstock typical council housing
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Britain’s battered post-Covid economy could be rebooted through a major retrofit programme which would slash emissions and create jobs, the Coalition for the Energy Efficiceny of Buildings (CEEB) has said

CEEB, which is backed by the UK government and the City of London Corporation, today released a report arguing that such an approach would support more than 150,000 skilled and semi-skilled construction jobs, provide a quick economic stimulus and boost consumer spending through energy cost savings.

The report is the latest in a growing chorus of voices calling for a significant focus on retrofitting existing buildings including the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Historic England and the AJ’s RetroFirst campaign.

Members of the CEEB include RetroFirst backers Arup, the RICS and the UK Green Building Council as well as others such as Legal & General, Lloyd’s Banking Group and various government bodies.

The report also proposes ways in which to scale-up retrofit financing, which it argues is one of the keys to unlocking a mass retrofitting drive.

Responding to the report, chief executive of the UKGBC Julie Hirigoyen said it had come at ‘just the right time’.

She said: ‘Retrofitting the UK’s homes will have a central role to play in our post- COVID economic recovery. Making our homes warmer and healthier will also ease pressure on the NHS by reducing the incidence of cold-related illness.

‘Through a rigorous review of the market, it has identified the barriers to energy efficiency investment and proposed very practical financing solutions to overcome them.’

Chair of the CEEB Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas called for a science and innovation-based response to what she described as the ‘two greatest challenges of our time’, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The role of our financial system is also increasingly recognised as essential in facilitating those solutions, while also helping to create a more inclusive and sustainable global economy,’ she added.

The report said that the CEEB had analysed the current barriers to take-up of retrofit projects and had used its combined knowledge of the finance and building sectors to generate a portfolio of 21 ‘demonstrator’ financial solutions in areas such as loans and mortgages, tenancy agreements and guarantee mechanisms backed by government or insurers.

Minister for Business Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said such work ‘represents a positive step towards achieving our Green Finance Strategy ambition to build the market for green home finance.’

He added: ‘The proposed demonstrators aim to support the development of innovative products to finance energy efficiency and build a vibrant market for energy retrofit. This will support the UK in delivering its commitment to move towards net zero whilst growing our economy.’

Meanwhile, a separate report from think tank the Green Alliance also released today called on government to cut VAT on refurbishment to bring it in line with new build ‘to help revitalise the construction sector after coronavirus’.

In addition, the report said government should allocate £300 million for a new programme of whole building retrofits using offsite advanced manufacturing technology and for the adoption of material passports to aid reuse in contruction.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Now might be the time for some online training in retrofit and the associated risks. How many designers need to brush up on their knowledge of interstitial condensation, not to mention combustability.

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