There is a collective realisation settling in across real estate - 80% of the homes we will use in 2050 have already been built. Retrofitting this existing stock by 2050 will be a challenge, leaving many wondering if it is even possible. Here is our take.

At Plentific, we believe the colossal challenge of the nation's retrofit transformation also provides an unprecedented opportunity - to fix the most pressing environmental, social and economic issues facing society for decades to come. Let's look at the factors that can accelerate and improve retrofits.

The retrofit challenge.

For the UK to meet net-zero emissions by 2050, close to 28 million homes must be retrofitted with low-carbon solutions. That’s 9 out of 10 buildings in need of retrofits. In addition, contractor supply chains today are better versed in gas boilers than newer heat pump technologies. This adds concerns of a skills shortage to the retrofits supply chain as well.

The UK has committed to legally-binding targets to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. A key milestone is in just eight year’s time, with all homes required to have an EPC rating of B or C by 2030. All retrofits are now tied to the British Standards Institute (BSI) PAS 2035 framework in order to receive UK Government funding. 

PAS 2035 explained.

The UK has some of the oldest housing stock, with 20% of its homes being built prior to 1919. Buildings also account for over 40% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.

As much of the UK's housing stock does not offer the energy efficiency levels needed to meet Net Zero by 2050, an overarching domestic retrofit is critical for the UK Government - and that's where PAS 2035 comes in.

PAS 2035 provides an overarching standard for delivering retrofits domestically. It is designed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). From 30th June 2021, compliance with PAS 2035 is mandatory for all companies installing Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs). This includes domestic retrofits.

PAS 2035 takes a 'whole house' approach to the retrofitting process, both technically and to maximise occupier comfort. In the simplest of terms, a 'whole house' approach includes:

  • Upgrades to building fabric for better insulation 
  • Tools to measure and maintain better energy performance
  • Improvements to ventilation and the installation of heat pumps

The confluence of ESG and retrofits.

Issues relating to ESG – which stands for environmental, social and governance – are fast becoming more important and integral to the strategy and practices of landlords and investors. In many ways, retrofits are a great example of a powerful solution that jointly addresses many of these closely linked issues.

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The more obvious ESG theme of climate change is impossible to tackle without retrofits, as they directly address the improvement of a building's energy efficiency and reduce our over-reliance on unsustainable sources of energy.

However, retrofits also play a key role in delivering the economic goals of the European Union’s Green New Deal and countries’ efforts to Build Back Better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The extensive work needed to implement retrofits is expected to create high demand for skilled workers and generate a large influx of new jobs.

To explore other ESG themes, such as tech-enabled resource management and tackling energy poverty, download our free 2022 report on Retrofitting the property sector.

Now let's look at the initial steps organisations can put in place to do their part in the retrofit journey.

The critical first steps.

At Plentific, we have collaborated with global insights and advisory consultancy, GlobeScan to develop an in-depth report that assesses the challenges associated with modernising UK housing stock to meet tough climate change targets. The collective expertise of the report has highlighted several factors for housing providers to expedite retrofits. These are:

  • Achieve EPC C compliance – help identify easy wins and execute action plans to implement simple energy efficiency measures such as lighting upgrades 
  • Align improvements with repairs – take advantage of times when something breaks or needs repair to implement retrofit measures
  • Help navigate and simplify policy and funding challenges - provide user-friendly tools that help managers to efficiently navigate policy requirements and funding sources 
  • Facilitate surveys and data collection – better data leads to better retrofit outcomes 
  • Help engage and educate residents – property managers need help with engaging, educating and getting buy-in from residents for retrofits 
  • Fill gaps in net carbon zero requirements – support property managers with taking action to address emerging issue areas like biodiversity and green spaces 
  • Enable pilot projects – experimenting with smaller scale projects will prove an effective way to learn about and improve the approach to retrofits

To learn more, get your own free copy of our report 'Retrofitting the Property Sector: Future-Proofing Buildings, Health and Net Zero.ESG_thumbnail