Retrofit – Can We Afford Not to Do it?

Given the estimated price tag of £280bn for net zero carbon retrofits some people might wonder ‘can we afford to do it?’ Looked at in a more positive light, this is a huge amount of economic activity. If you look at the economic benefits perhaps the question should be: ‘can we afford not to do it?’

Let’s start with probably the biggest challenge facing the UK and other western democracies. Energy security. In particular, reducing reliance on gas. This is at the top of everyone’s agenda.

Switching the built environment from gas to electrical heating means drastically reducing overall energy consumption. Peak loads are a particular issue. If we don’t reduce these substantially the grid simply won’t cope.

Central to this task is tackling the UK’s poorly insulated, leaky housing stock. If we phase out gas boilers in favour of heat pumps without first ensuring homes are well insulated, we’ll have millions of people living in cold damp houses.

Jobs and Prosperity

An IPRR study shows that an annual £7bn retrofit programme would save average households £430 from their energy bills. It would also create 2.7m new jobs, many in areas that need more well-paid employment.

Just imagine what those employment and training opportunities would mean to individual communities across the country. This will be a real and deliverable case of levelling up. People with secure, well-paid employment also spend, adding a further economic boost.

There would be knock-on benefits for local supply chains and SME businesses who will be essential partners in mobilising a new workforce on this scale.

Getting Started

If retrofitting the UK housing stock to net zero standards is a thousand mile march, we’re not much beyond the first step. To start realising the benefits sooner rather than later, social housing providers should engage partners that know how to achieve efficiencies in property services delivery and deliver large scale work programmes.

These partners should also have a solid track record of delivering local employment opportunities and nurturing effective supply chain relationships.

For ideas about how to increase the rate of zero carbon retrofits visit our resource centre. Or contact Nick Davidge ([email protected]).