The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has launched an updated version of its National Retrofit Strategy, a long term plan for how the energy and water efficiency of the UK’s 28 million existing homes can be improved.
Currently, homes account for 35% of all the energy usage and 20% of CO2 emissions in the UK. Therefore, the performance of residential properties must be improved to enable the country to meet its targets of a 78% emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2035, and net zero by 2050.
The plan calls for the Government to work alongside the construction industry to create a framework that will allow the required large-scale improvements to homes. It estimates that a £5.3 billion investment from the Government over four years would be required to kick-start the changes. However, it also projects that the resulting Government revenues could be as much as £12 billion over the same period with up to a £21 billion boost to UK Gross domestic product (GDP).
The National Retrofit Strategy outlines the benefits of adopting a comprehensive retrofit programme in three key areas:
Economic: Besides the boost to GDP, a retrofit programme has the potential to create new and high skilled jobs and boost existing businesses. If implemented, number of direct new jobs created by the end of 2024 could be as high as 100,000 with a further 80,000 indirect jobs.
Social: Widespread retrofit would help reduce poverty through lower energy costs, boost household disposable income and create more comfortable homes. It also has the potential to save lives and reduce the strain on the NHS by reducing ill health and deaths caused by cold homes. It is estimated that retrofit could create an average £436 energy bill saving per year for each home and that 6,000 deaths could be avoided every year.
Environmental: Reduced carbon emissions from our homes will help meet the established targets and position the UK as a global leader in the low carbon economy.
The strategy outlines eight key areas that are essential to the successful delivery of the retrofit programme. The CLC is clear that each of these components is required and failure to achieve one would jeopardise the programme as a whole.
1. Leadership and communications – a large-scale programme needs strong leadership including the potential for a Retrofit Delivery Authority to oversee and lead delivery to tie the various local programmes together.
2. Supported transition and a research and innovation culture – provide an environment where new and existing businesses can grow and thrive to meet the demands.
3. Performance standards – realistic fabric-first standards to ensure the retrofitted homes perform as intended.
4. Finance and grants – financial support and incentives to suit different homes. Including government grants, green mortgages, reduced VAT and low interest loans.
5. Training and accreditation – creating a workforce of professionals and trades to carry out the work by developing the skills of people in the industry and recruiting and training new entrants.
6. Materials and equipment – scaling up the supply of materials and equipment in line with demanding quality standards.
7. Creating customer demand – educating and informing homeowners about what their home needs and providing a route to achieving it.
8. Compliance and quality regime - creating a culture and framework that ensures all work is completed to the highest standards.
The National Retrofit Strategy is part of the CLCs overarching CO2nstruct Zero initiative. Launched in March this year, CO2nstruct Zero sets out nine priorities for the construction industry to help it contribute to achieving the UK’s net zero objective. Besides retrofitting homes and enhancing the performance of other buildings, the priorities include: A move to zero emission vehicles, enabling connections to low carbon transport, maximising the use of Modern Methods of Construction, delivering low carbon heating solutions, implementing carbon measurement, designing out carbon and the development of low carbon materials