The Importance of “Base Camp” on the Zero Carbon Retrofit Journey

James Quy, Operations Director at Osborne’s specialist Property Services business, has previously commented that zero carbon retrofitting of the UK’s housing stock is arguably the largest and most ambitious sustainability programme the nation has taken on.

EPC Level C by 2030 is the vital first key objective for social housing providers on what will be a complex journey. James anticipates that the overriding need to balance funding availability, upskill resources, and foster emerging technical innovations will inevitably influence decision making to focus on EPC Level C actions in the first instance.

James uses an analogy of tackling Everest; By getting to “Base Camp” you get yourself a long way up the mountain (around 60% in fact!). However, climbers always approach base camp with their strategy and plans fully aligned to an effective and efficient assent to their ultimate objective to reach the summit.

EPC Level C by 2030 is in all intent and purpose social housing providers’ Retrofit base camp towards zero carbon housing by 2050. In simple terms, we have just eight years to get all social housing stock to base camp and then only twenty more to reach the summit!

A staged approach will by its nature drive more fragmented and piece meal retrofit improvements, by necessity it will mean prioritising some improvement aspects and leaving others for later.  James argues that this potentially introduces far greater risks than the alternative of a whole house retrofit all in one go. But equally James believes we need to be pragmatic about funding, affordability, and achievable timescales. So, we must scope, define, and prioritise the immediate requirements whilst taking proper cognisance of the long-term goal. In our focus on short-term EPC Level C needs, we must not lose sight of the ultimate longer-term objective.

James also emphasises that the industry must learn from the fragmented retrofit approaches adopted in the past, some of which have resulted in highly consequential impacts for the health and wellbeing of residents. For example, by providing extensive home insulation measures without proper consideration of the associated increased ventilation needs that have created damp homes.

For more information and further support on scoping, planning and efficiently delivering EPC Level C by 2030 aligned to ultimate zero carbon goal by 2050 please visit our Resource Centre or contact [email protected]