Refurbishment hub: Do we need one?
Should the UK have a single refurbishment hub to ensure government and industry hears a single voice from all involved in the retrofit of buildings? This blog post explains what such a hub may look like.
There is no one body that brings together all the voices involved in potential retrofit of existing buildings; there are lots and lots of organisations, trade associations, interest groups, consultants, manufacturers, installers and lobbyists with views, many of whom have produced some excellent suggestions and recommendations, but with all these voices clamouring for attention as to what, why, when, where, how much or indeed whether existing buildings should or could be improved, I believe that something is lost in communicating anything coherent to government.
The Zero Carbon Hub has been very useful over the last few years to help drive forwards new build domestic improvements, but there isn’t an equivalent for refurbishment of existing buildings.
A ‘hub’ to drive improvements to the energy efficiency of existing buildings might be a worthwhile clearing house of ideas and perspectives, to allow sometimes opposing views and visions to be challenged and to help generate workable policies that might result in more efficient, cheaper to run and lower carbon buildings.
What would be the purpose of a hub for retrofit?
To support the mainstream delivery of energy efficient retrofitting and refurbishment of existing domestic and non domestic buildings; acting as a dissemination mechanism to stakeholders and a source of advice to government for activities and actions needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings.
It’s key function would need to be an avenue for bringing together all the disparate voices with an interest in our existing building stock. It could then act as a conduit between Government and industry.
Such a body could create confidence, reduce risk and obstacles and provide a clear strategic long-term goal that would allow government to meet its climate change objectives and which would give industry confidence to invest to help achieve those goals.
What would it (or could it) do?
- Help to develop and provide feedback for new and updated technical standards.
- Commission and carry out research.
- Identify and investigate potential problems and produce advice.
- Create exemplar profiles to highlight innovative solutions.
- Investigate and develop best practice recommendations for skills and training.
- Provide guidance and information through publications.
- Host or speak at events to create forums for discussion.
- Engage with government to help develop sensible, workable long-view policies to drive retrofit.
- Update the wider industry about and comment on government policy.
Possible work-streams might include
- Training and Education
- Domestic refurbishment
- Non Domestic refurbishment
- Low carbon existing buildings
- Exploration of retrofit measures from Allowable solutions
- Retrofit incentives – how to engage building owners
- Existing versus Improved performance (looking at calculated vs. measured performance for both pre-improvement and after)
- Developing a workable mechanism for ‘product differentiation’
What form would it take? Who would be involved?
Everyone involved would of necessity need to buy in; all possible stakeholders, from local authorities and central government (and their consultants); the retrofit industry through individual companies and trade association participation/representation (manufacturers and installers); public interest groups and consultancies, architects and designers, building control bodies, domestic and non domestic energy assessors schemes, building services, property industry and larger landlord organisations.
Work-streams would focus engagement down to manageable group sizes, selected from interested parties, but all voices are important to drive progress.
It would need to avoid being just another conduit / talking shop that no-one listens to, by generating content and guidance.
Better communication between all the stakeholders and Government is desparately needed; there are a lot of voices clamouring for attention and duplicating effort – bringing all these voices together would help government to listen and hopefully help to generate something worth listening to!
So what does anyone else think?
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