Cover Page


List of contributors


Setting the scene for 2012

Reality or rhetoric: Revealing the challenge of climate change

Retrofitting the future: Making the most of what we have


1 Retrofitting the built environment: An introduction


Part 1: Understanding the problem

2 Achieving ‘systemic’ urban retrofit: A framework for action


Critical pressures for systemic urban retrofit

Systemic urban retrofit as response

Systemic urban retrofit: A framework for action



3 Openness in household energy use: The new Housing Energy Fact File


The Fact File’s evidence base

The model underpinning the Fact File

Building accountability and consensus

Summary points from the Fact File

Uncertainty analysis




4 Retrofit innovation in the UK social housing sector: A socio-technical perspective


Innovation and retrofit

Innovation and socio-technical systems

What does the domestic energy regime look like?

What is the nature of innovation in the UK social housing sector?

Resident focused approach

Technical innovations

Understanding the process



Part 2: Policy and regulation

5 A roadmap to significant reductions in energy use for existing buildings: The long view


The building blocks of a successful energy efficient future in buildings

Building benchmarking, labelling and disclosure

Carrots: Incentive programmes integrated with one-stop contracting and on-bill financing

Innovative marketing

Workforce training

Independent programme management organisations with credibility, strong missions and focus

Appropriate timing

Conclusion and further research


6 Thermal retrofit and building regulations for dwellings in the UK


The UK Building Regulations

Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP 2009)

Compliance with the Building Regulations

The Energy Act 2011



7 Retrofitting existing dwellings: Lessons from the policy instruments of front-runners



Policy instruments of front-runners

Discussion and conclusions



Part 3: Implementing and evaluating retrofit

8 Make no assumptions: The selection of domestic retrofit improvements


Current energy modelling and assessment standards

The development of rules for domestic retrofit

Addressing the problem of selecting retrofit improvements

Conclusions and next steps


9 Life cycle assessment of refurbishment strategies for historic buildings


Life cycle analysis in the building sector: A fragmented picture

Retrofit of a historic building

Life cycle analysis (LCA)

Results of the LCA


Conclusion and further research



10 FutureFit: Lessons for the Green Deal from a retrofit large-scale project in UK social housing


The Green Deal

FutureFit approach

Monitoring and evaluation

Residents’ adoption and in-use issues

Identifying upgrades


Energy performance and financial modelling



11 Energy monitoring in retrofit projects: Strategies, tools and practices


Energy monitoring strategies

Energy monitoring tools

Environmental measures

Fabric investigation



Part 4: Peoples and communities

12 Engaging residents in multifamily building retrofits: Reducing energy consumption and enhancing resident satisfaction


Engaging low-income and multifamily households in sustainable retrofit

The case study context: Toronto Community Housing

TeamWorks©, tenant engagement and education




13 Ensuring energy efficiency at the individual level: Getting psychologically informed


People, retrofit and energy use

Psychologically informed approaches to retrofit

People and their interaction with retrofit measures



14 Barriers to domestic retrofit: Learning from past home improvement experiences


Home improvement and domestic retrofit

Uncovering the barriers

What are the barriers to home improvement in the UK?

What does this mean for the future of domestic retrofit?



15 Low-energy design for non-experts: Usability in whole house retrofit


Why worry about usability?

Housing: residents and context

Effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction

User goals in whole house retrofit

Unanswered questions

Case studies

Household context

Complexity and control

The significance of usability




List of contributors

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester, UK. He is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and engages widely across all tiers of government – from reporting on aviation-related emission to the EU Parliament, advising the Prime Minister’s office on Carbon Trading and having contributed to the development of the UK’s Climate Change Act. With his colleague Alice Bows, Kevin’s work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He sits as commissioner on the Welsh Government’s Climate Change Commission and is a director of Greenstone Carbon Management.

Charlie Baker is an architect at URBED (Urbanism Environment Design) Ltd in Manchester, UK. He was a founder member of the Homes for Change Housing Co-operative as well as the architect of its second phase, established the Hulme Community architecture Project and co-authored the Hulme Guide to Development. For seven years he was a director of Build for Change, a community-based design and fabrication co-operative working on projects ranging in scale from furniture design to neighbourhood planning. He has particular expertise in housing and community participation, working with Housing Market Renewal pathfinders across the country. He set up the Homes by Design and Places by Design training courses for the Glasshouse and National Tenant Resource Centre. He was a founder member of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing, a co-author of the Community Gateway Model for council housing, a member of the New Ventures Panel of Co-operatives UK and chairs its Sustainability Group.

Philip Brown is Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) at the University of Salford, UK. He is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society with particular interests in public policy and community and environmental psychology. Philip has led and contributed significantly to a wide number of multidisciplinary projects, including current work that looks at energy reduction, behaviour change and retrofitting. Philip has ­published numerous reports and produced a range of peer-review papers in the field of social policy and the built environment. He is the lead academic on end-use energy demand within the University of Salford’s Energy Hub. Philip sits on Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Economic Area Group for Customer Engagement and has been part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Peer Review College since its inception in 2010.

Lucrezia Chiappetta is the Director of Environmental Education at GreenRoots Strategies. Since joining GRS in the fall of 2005, Lucrezia has helped design and implement tenant engagement and training programmes serving residents of social housing across North America. In addition to designing environmental programmes for adults, Lucrezia has helped design and manage the Green Collar Corps programme, an award-winning teen environmental stewardship programme that began in Toronto Community Housing. Lucrezia holds an undergraduate and graduate degree in Environmental Studies and Planning from York University (Ontario, Canada).

Ian Cooper is a partner in Eclipse Research Consultants and a Visiting Professor to the School of the Built Environment at the University of Salford, UK. A trained architect, he now specialises in research into the sustainable production and consumption of the built environment. Eclipse Research Consultants is a Cambridge-based ­consultancy that was formed in 1984 and conducts strategic research into the design, management and operation of the built environment. This work frequently focuses on (a) the design, management and operation of buildings, particularly in relation to environmental performance, especially energy consumption, and (b) urban regeneration, especially around stakeholder engagement issues on EU-funded projects. With Jason Palmer he co-authors the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s annual UK Housing Energy Fact File.

Giovanni Dotelli is Associate Professor of Materials Science at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, where he teaches courses on fundamentals of materials science and more advanced courses on materials for energy and environment, to electrical, environmental, chemical and materials engineers. He leads the Materials for Energy and Environment Laboratory (Mat4En2) at the Chemistry, Materials, and Chemical Engineering Department. His main research interests range from materials for renewable and alternative energy sources, in particular fuel cells, to hybrid materials for environmental applications and life cycle analysis of materials and industrial ­processes. He has led and contributed to several research projects on these topics, published numerous papers on peer-reviewed journals and contributed to many national and international conferences. He actively collaborates with many industries in the field of sustainability, product development and Green product design.

Richard Fitton is Technical Manager of the Energy House testing facility at the University of Salford, UK. His background is over 12 years in Building Surveying and Energy Engineering, in both the public and private sectors. His particular interests are in the field of monitoring energy use in domestic buildings. During his work at the Salford Energy House he has carried out many tests for large multinational companies on various energy savings technologies and carried out academic research with partner universities and companies examining different testing methodologies, including heat flux measurement and co-heating tests.

Patricia Gee is President and owner of GreenRoots Strategies (GRS), a consulting practice specializing in stakeholder engagement and participatory programme design, environmental education and training, and Green sector economic ­development services. GRS has provided behaviour-based energy education and training services to residents and staff of over 10 000 social housing units across North America. Patricia has worked as staff and consultant to public housing ­authorities and resident councils and has directed publicly funded welfare-to-work initiatives that incorporated housing subsidies, work readiness training, remedial and continuing education and home ownership components. As Community Programs Manager with the NC Alternative Energy Corporation (now Advanced Energy), Patricia directed consumer research, design and demonstration of community-based sustainability initiatives and environmental social marketing strategies. She has worked as a non-profit executive director, teacher, certified mediator and trainer to design programmes that facilitate adoption of efficiency behaviours that endure over time. She received her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Victoria Haines is a Senior Lecturer and heads the User Centred Design Research Group at Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors and a Registered European Ergonomist. Her research focuses on consumer behaviour and user-centred design, exploring how people interact with their environment and the products and services they use, particularly in the area of energy efficiency and domestic buildings. She has worked extensively on multidisciplinary projects with commercial and industrial partners, acting as Co-Investigator on RCUK/E.ON funded projects CALEBRE (developing consumer appealing technologies for building retrofit) and CCC (Carbon, Control and Comfort in social housing), as well as the EPSRC DEFACTO project, focusing on domestic energy saving following refurbishment.

Marianne Heaslip is an architect at URBED (Urbanism Environment Design) Ltd in Manchester, UK. In recent years she has developed an expertise in low-energy building retrofit, through direct involvement in retrofit projects, strategic research and mapping of programme models, and evaluation of completed projects. She was a designer on 10 whole house retrofits as part of the TSB ‘Retrofit for the Future’ project, working on specification, supply chains and resident liaison in very low-energy retrofit. She is currently working with the Carbon Co-op in Manchester and community-led regeneration projects in Liverpool. She was a researcher and ­co-author of The Community Green Deal for SHAP (Sustainable Housing Action Partnership), which mapped out how low-energy refurbishment might be rolled out at a neighbourhood and regional scale. She also contributed to the Greater Manchester Domestic Retrofit Strategy.

Mike Hodson is Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures (SURF), University of Salford, Manchester, UK. His research interests focus on urban and regional transitions to low-carbon economies and the lessons to be learned from such processes. Mike has published and presented widely on this agenda. He has done so for academic, practitioner and ­policy audiences, in the UK and internationally. Most recently Mike has written Low Carbon Nation? (Earthscan, 2013) and World Cities and Climate Change (Open University Press, 2010), both with Simon Marvin, and has edited an international collection on Cities and Low Carbon Transitions (Routledge, London, 2011) with Harriet Bulkeley, Vanesa Castan Broto and Simon Marvin. Mike is currently leading on SURF’s involvement in the EPSRC Urban Retrofit project and is providing senior research support to the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform for Mistra – Urban Futures.

Martin Hughes is a Research Associate at Cambridge Architectural Research (CAR), UK. He has a PhD in applied mathematics and 15 years experience of applying mathematical modelling techniques in a wide range of areas. He has been heavily involved in the development of the Cambridge Housing Model, the UK domestic energy model which supports DECC’s Housing Energy Fact File and Energy Consumption in the UK data tables, as well as a number of associated models/tools. He is currently working on an assessment of uncertainty in the Cambridge Housing Model and its likely impact, and is undertaking extensive sensitivity and uncertainty analyses.

Becky Mallaband is a Research Associate and a member of the User Centred Design Research Group at Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University. Her research focuses on User Centred Design (UCD), particularly within the domestic energy domain. She is particularly interested in how a UCD approach can be used within interdisciplinary research and how it can add value to the engineering design process of energy saving technologies. She has worked on multidisciplinary projects with other academic institutes, commercial and industrial partners, including the RCUK/E.ON funded project CALEBRE (Consumer Appealing Low Energy Building Retrofitting) and the EPSRC DEFACTO project (Digital Energy Feedback and Control Technology Optimisation).

Simon Marvin is currently the Carillion Chair of Low Carbon Cities and Deputy Director of Durham Energy Institute in the Department of Geography at the University of Durham. Simon is an expert on the changing relations between cities, regions and infrastructure networks in a period of resource constraint, institutional restructuring and climate change. Simon’s research has been funded by the ESRC, EPSRC, international research foundations, the European Commission, commercial funders and many public agencies. He is currently working with the UNEP as a lead author on a major new report on decoupling cities and resource use. His research is currently focused on two large programmes – the first looking at comparative urban responses to climate change and resource constraint by cities in Africa, China, Sweden and the UK, and the second funded by the EPSRC looking at whether and how UK cities develop the knowledge and capability to systemically re-engineer their built environment and urban infrastructure.

Tim May is Professor and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures (SURF), University of Salford, Manchester, UK. His interests centre upon the relationship between knowledge, action, organizational strategy and working ­context, which he has developed in a variety of fields including: local government, probation and social services, universities, private businesses and urban and regional policy. Tim has written and edited 14 books that have been translated into 15 languages. He was also the series editor of Issues in Society – an international book series with Open University Press/McGraw-Hill in which 17 books were published (1998–2010). Among his more recent publications are a book on Social Research and Reflexivity (with Beth Perry, Sage Publications, 2011), a 4th edition of Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process (Open University Press/McGraw-Hill, 2011) and a special ­edition of the Built Environment Journal (with Beth Perry) on ‘The roles of universities in building knowledge cities’.

Paco Melià is Assistant Professor of Ecology at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, where he teaches courses on ecology, environmental impact assessment and sustainability to environmental architects and engineers. His main research activities encompass ­ecological modelling, population ecology and conservation management, stock assessment methods, decision support systems for the management of biological resources, environmental impact assessment and sustainability indicators. He has participated in several national and European research projects on these topics and co-authored a number of contributions to national and international meetings and papers on peer-reviewed journals. More recently he has been focusing on life cycle assessment (LCA) and its application.

Val Mitchell is a Lecturer and member of the User Centred Design research group at Loughborough Design School. Val has over 20 years multidisciplinary research ­experience specialising in the development of User Centred Design (UCD) methodologies for eliciting user requirements for future technologies and services, in ­particular understanding user needs and requirements. She is currently a senior researcher on the EPSRC/E.On funded CALEBRE project, which is investigating user behaviours and comfort relating to the implementation of energy saving technologies within the home. She is Co-I on the EPSRC LEEDR project, which is seeking to reduce energy demand in homes through the innovative application of ICT, and also the EPSRC REFIT project, which is seeking to provide personalised, tailored retrofit advice to home owners.

Stephen Morgan is President of Clean Energy Solutions, Inc. (CESI), US. Since joining CESI in the spring of 2007 he has been working with cities and utilities to design and implement comprehensive energy efficiency programmes. He and his colleagues design programmes, craft marketing strategies, oversee technical contractors and arrange financing for US communities ranging from Cambridge to Cincinnati to Charlottesville. He has been a featured speaker at national conferences and webinars and national trade organizations on local energy issues, utility programme incentives and energy performance contracting. Until 2007, he was Vice-President of AMERESCO, and led for 16 years the nation’s largest energy services company ­division solely dedicated to serving multifamily buildings. He has previously testified before Congress on renewable energy issues and consulted with the Ford Foundation, Fannie Mae, Legal Aid offices, DOE and HUD on energy issues. He is a Board ­member of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Steve taught nonprofit marketing at Brandeis University for three years and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University and a PhD in social policy and administration from Brandeis University.

Lorraine Murphy is a researcher at the OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. Lorraine’s ­current research focus is the effectiveness of policy instruments that are used to improve the energy performance of existing dwellings. Broader research interests include energy and climate change policy, environmental policy and governance. Lorraine has contributed to a number of educational resources, including textbooks and encyclopedias and has published articles in academic journals, conferences and professional magazines.

Jason Palmer is a Director at Cambridge Architectural Research (CAR), UK. He has worked extensively for Government Departments and Agencies for more than 10 years on energy use in buildings and broader sustainability issues. He is currently coordinating CAR’s work for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which includes writing the UK’s Housing Energy Fact File and generating energy statistics published by the Department. He also manages CAR’s work for DECC and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, analysing data collected for the Household Electricity Use Survey – the largest survey of its type ever carried out in the UK.

Beth Perry is Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures (SURF), University of Salford, Manchester, UK. Her main conceptual interests are in governance, cities and urban change and communities, as well as the changing dimensions and tensions of the research–­practice relationship. Beth has published widely on these themes and seeks in ­practice to explore the strengths and limitations of engagement with different partners through innovative methods in co-producing relevant and excellent knowledge for sustainable urban futures. She is currently also Director of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform for Sustainable Urban Development, Mistra Urban Futures and is Salford-lead on an Arts and Humanities Research Council project on connecting communities in the cultural urban economy. Through these programmes of work, her current research focuses on governance and the socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability in cities.

Gianluca Ruggieri, an environmental engineer, is Assistant Professor of Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer at the Università dell’Insubria, Italy. He is also responsible for three different integrated courses at the Politecnico di Milano, dealing with energy efficiency in buildings and sustainable urban planning. His research interests focus on energy efficiency including legislative support mechanisms, behavioural aspects, community actions and monitoring campaigns. More recently he has been increasingly exploring the life cycle assessment of building construction and renovation. He has also been involved in international cooperation projects with Southern Eastern Europe and with Sub Saharan Africa. He is founder and vice president of Retenergie, a cooperative including more than 500 associates, that finances, develops and manages small-scale community-based renewable energy plants.

Sergio Sabbadini is an architect specialised in alternative and ecological technologies in the building sector. He has been working at the Centre Ecologique Européen Terre Vivante (France) and is member of the Terre Vivante association. He is co-founder of the DISSTUDIO building design company and carries out sustainable architecture projects. His research activities are focused on constructive techniques that utilise earth as a building material. His activities include new constructions, building refurbishment, cultural heritage conservation and some archaeological experiences. He collaborates with several different companies to develop new products based on ­natural insulation materials and new plasters based on earth. He is also responsible for a building design course at the Politecnico di Milano. He is member of the board of ANAB (Italian National Bioecologic Architecture Association), where he is responsible for the activities related with the use of earth as a building material, including international projects such as the Leonardo da Vinci project Inater.

Luke Smith is an Architectural Technologist whose career to date has been dedicated to low carbon sustainable development and refurbishment of buildings. His experience includes working with the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Buildings, a ­not-for-profit membership organisation that facilitates closer working between industry, government and community organisations. He has also worked with the National Energy Foundation, the University of Salford and with Housing Associations and Local Authorities to advise on the conception and delivery of numerous domestic and non-domestic sustainable retrofit projects. Most recently he has contributed to a Built Environment Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the Liverpool City Region and led the development of a bespoke toolkit capable of systematically evaluating the opportunities and feasibility of reducing the demand for energy and water across a portfolio of existing assets. Luke is a BREEAM Accredited Professional, holds APMP status and is a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor. Prior to his work on retrofit Luke worked with the Vietnamese Green Building Council on the development and application of sustainable building metrics and benchmarks, Preston City Council and contributed to a number of international sustainable design competitions.

Will Swan is a Senior Lecturer in Buildings Retrofit based in the School of Built Environment in the University of Salford. He leads a number of projects in the field of sustainable retrofit looking at issues of the delivery of sustainable retrofit. He is particularly interested in issues of adoption, assessment of delivery of sustainable retrofit with regards to supply chains and process. Will chairs the Greater Manchester Retrofit Product and Process Innovation Group, sits on the National Refurbishment Centre and the Greater Manchester Buildings Group, dealing with buildings and energy use generally for buildings stock. Previously, he worked for the Centre of Construction Innovation where he advised on regional policy for sustainable buildings.

Stephen Todd, Senior Lecturer in Construction and Maintenance Technology, Building Pathology and Defects at the University of Salford, UK. Stephen has a background in practice before entering academia. He has worked on innovative European Commission funded low-energy housing research. He has also undertaken Stock Condition Surveys for Local Authorities and is a registered Energy Trainer, Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor and BRE Associate. He was also part of the team that developed the Warrington Energy House, which was a collaborative project between the University of Salford, Warrington Housing Association and Warrington Borough Council. For the past 28 years he has undertaken consultancy work in the building defects and energy conservation areas and has appeared as an expert witness where the quality of building work is under dispute. He also had a major input to the DETR Rebuilding Grant Project and was a member of the Welsh Pilot Scheme for Home Information Packs and Energy Performance Certification. He sits on Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Economic Area Group for Product and Process Innovation and previously on the Retrofit Standards Group. He also sits on an advisory panel for DCLG in respect of changes to the Building Regulations.

Alexandra Willey is a Special Projects Manager within the Property Investment team at Affinity Sutton, a national affordable housing provider to over 57 000 homes in the UK. After completing a Masters in town planning, she joined the organisation on the Graduate Management scheme in 2009, completing placements with Community Investment, Strategic Projects and Asset Management before being appointed as the FutureFit Project Manager in June 2010. FutureFit was Affinity Sutton’s response to the challenge of Greening its homes and involved delivering various packages of ­retrofit and energy efficiency lifestyle advice to 150 homes nationwide. The award winning project looked at the practical implications of wide-scale retrofit and has provided a body of evidence to help prepare the industry for the Government’s Green Deal. As Special Projects Manager, a post she has held since 2011, Alex is responsible for Affinity Sutton’s approach to the retrofit agenda, including feeding into a number of industry groups and engaging with staff and residents around the forthcoming Green Deal.


Kevin Anderson

Setting the scene for 2012

With early evidence that large-scale impacts of climate change are becoming discernable from the background of natural variability, there is increasing concern over the international community’s abject failure to control emissions. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) chief executive (Maria van der Hoeven 2012) captures this pivotal moment in history when noting that ‘The current state of affairs is unacceptable …. Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs, and under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions [will] increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050.’ The IEA’s chief economist (Fatih Birol; see Rose 2012) goes on to state that ‘[This] trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet.’

Reality or rhetoric: Revealing the challenge of climate change

It is almost two decades since the international community committed to the ­‘stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’ (UN 1992). However, it was not until 2009 that the threshold between dangerous and acceptable levels of climate change was finally enshrined in an international agreement. The Copenhagen Accord (UN 2009), later reiterated in the Cancun Agreements, established a clear target against which to measure progress. The Accord, to which most nations are now signatories, requires that the global community ‘hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity’.

Against this backdrop of well-meaning but ultimately rhetorical commitments, emissions of carbon dioxide have continued to rise (IEA 2012), this despite several years of economic contraction in many industrialised nations. In 2009–2010, global carbon dioxide emissions rose markedly, up by almost 6%; in 2010–2011 they rose by a further 3%, with a similar rate of growth anticipated for this year.

Coinciding with this escalation in emissions, there is increasing recognition that climate change has little correlation with long-term end-point reduction targets, for example the UK’s statutory requirement for an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. By contrast, the rise in temperature is closely related to the continual build-up of long-lived greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. This characterisation of climate change as an issue of cumulative emissions and carbon budgets, has fundamental implications for the framing, chronology and urgency of policies for reducing emissions. Whilst 2050 targets lend themselves to gradual reductions dominated by the roll-out of low-carbon energy supply technologies, the science makes clear that in the absence of radical and immediate mitigation, such technologies will fail to deliver on the UK’s international climate change commitments (Anderson et al. 2008).

The scale of the challenge, framed by scientifically informed carbon budgets as opposed to scientifically illiterate 2050 targets, has fundamental implications for ­mitigation policies, or, if neglected, the level of climate-related impacts and accompanying adaptation. This already testing transition from fiction to fact around climate change is made yet more difficult for the UK (and all Annex 1 nations) once the ‘equity’ dimension of the Copenhagen Accord is acknowledged (Anderson and Bows 2011).

The UK government, with guidance from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), have established an overarching regime for UK mitigation policy premised on non-Annex 1 emissions peaking by around 2018. Whilst this may be a little later than is assumed for Annex 1 nations, it is nevertheless far removed from the spirit, if not the words, of the Copenhagen Accord, which explicitly recognises ‘that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries and … that social and ­economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities’. If the UK were to take seriously the international commitments to which it is a signatory, the peak in emissions from non-Annex 1 nations would be post-2025, with the consequent rate of mitigation for the UK substantially increased.

Similarly, and again despite its explicit commitments, the UK frames national ­obligations in terms of a global carbon budget that, according to the CCC’s own ­analysis, has a high probability (63%) of exceeding 2 °C. This not only contravenes the probabilities accompanying the Copenhagen Accord, but also those associated with the UK’s own Low Carbon Transition Plan as well as various EU commitments.

Finally, the CCC and UK government’s chosen carbon budget takes no account of global deforestation, presuming instead that any such emissions are solely the responsibility of nations where deforestation occurs. Given that the UK and most Annex 1 nations have already reaped the short-term rewards of their own national deforestation, this presumption is incompatible with the Accord’s equity concerns (Anderson and Bows 2011).

Bringing together the science with a direct reading of the UK’s international ­commitments transforms the climate challenge agenda from one of gradual ­mitigation and adaptation to 2 °C to one of urgent and deep reductions in emissions alongside adaptation to 4 °C (and higher) futures. As it stands the UK’s current position, though politically palatable, is evidently and significantly in breach of international commitments as well as its own domestic obligations.

Consequently, whilst the UK asserts:

  … the reality is that the UK position is premised on:

Retrofitting the future: Making the most of what we have

The scale of the mitigation challenge faced by the international community, even for an outside probability of staying below 2 °C, is unprecedented. However, for the wealthier parts of the world, not only are the necessary rates of mitigation beyond anything previously countenanced, they need to begin immediately if any emission space is to remain for poorer nations to develop. As a guide to the challenge, Annex 1 nations need to achieve an absolute reduction in emissions of around 40% by 2015, 70% by 2020 and over 90% by 2030 – and still emissions from non-Annex 1 nations would be required to peak by around 2025.

However, the challenge, particularly for the built environment and wider infrastructure, is more demanding still. Coincident with such deep mitigation is the need to ensure that communities are resilient to large and unpredictable changes in their local climate. The prospects of holding to a 2 °C future are slim; a 4 °C rise in the ­second half of the twenty-first century must be seriously considered (New et al. 2011). It is here that the built environment must endeavour to find the appropriate compromise. Houses must be designed not only to be low- or zero-carbon, but also to ­provide shelter in climatic futures likely to be very different from those currently experienced.

The UK is probably in a more fortunate position than many nations. Not only is it geographically insulated from some of the more extreme temperature impacts, the UK is a wealthy nation with a good science base that is beginning to provide some understanding of regional impacts. However, whilst the mitigation agenda is quantitatively clear, impacts and adaptation will never be subject to such certainty. Consequently, despite the benefits that accrue to the UK, the country’s uncertain ­climatic prospects frame the future of the built environment as one of compromise and learning-by-doing rather than of optimisation.

With around 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions arising from its 26 million domestic residences (EST undated) the built environment is a pivotal sector in terms of mitigation and adaptation. As in all sectors, to date the focus of attention has been typically on new technologies and new equipment as a path to a low-carbon and ­resilient future. However, such a vision is simply incompatible with the chronology of change necessary to deliver a 2°C or even 3°C future. Virtually all the properties in which we will be living in 2015 and 2020 exist today, as do many of those for 2030 and even 2050. Consequently, although attention is focused typically on new-build, the real substance of the challenge is in retrofitting. Transforming the existing housing stock into the low-carbon and climate-resilient bedrock of communities is itself a ­difficult task. However, for the UK not to renege on its 2 °C commitments, this transition must begin now and be achieved within the coming decade. Perhaps the sector’s greatest challenge is that this can only succeed if genuine partnership is developed between civil engineers, architects, planners, house-builders and, of course, householders. Ultimately, this is as much a political and social as it is a technical challenge, and one that needs to be tackled immediately if futile rhetoric on mitigation is to be replaced with meaningful leadership on climate change.


Anderson, K. and Bows., A. (2011) Beyond dangerous climate change: emission pathways for a new world, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 369, 20–44. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0290.

Anderson, K., Bows, A. and Mander, S. (2008) From long-term targets to cumulative emission pathways; reframing the climate policy debate, Energy Policy, 36, 3714–3722.

Energy Saving Trust (EST) (undated) Available at:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2010) Guidance Note for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties.

International Energy Agency (IEA) (2012) Global Carbon-Dioxide Emissions Increase by 1.0 Gt in 2011 to Record High.

New, M., Liverman, D., Schroder, H. and Anderson, K. (2011) Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and it implications, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 369, 6–19.

Rose, M. (2012) UPDATE 2-Global CO2 Emissions Hit Record in 2011 Led by China-IEA, Reuters.

United Nations (UN) (1992) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, FCCC/INFORMAL/84(GE.05-62220 (E) 200705).

United Nations (UN) (2009) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: The Copenhagen Accord, FCCC/CP/2009(L.7).

Van der Hoeven, M. (2012) The current state of affairs is unacceptable…, Clean Energy Ministerial, 3.


Retrofitting the built environment: An introduction

Will Swan and Philip Brown

Sustainable retrofit, or refurbishment, of buildings to improve their energy ­performance has emerged as the major issue on the demand side of energy use. While there was detailed thinking about how new buildings would perform in a zero carbon world, it took a few individuals to point out that even if we had all new zero carbon buildings, we would only make a very small dent on the emissions of the building stock as a whole (Ravetz 2008; Kelly 2009). We needed to address the existing stock and we were quick to seek out technological fixes to the problem of existing buildings; super-insulation, new forms of heating systems and self-learning controls all found their way into ­demonstration projects. However, it soon became apparent to both the academic community and practitioners that the problem of sustainably retrofitting people’s homes and workplaces was more than just an engineering challenge. Evidence from research projects and studies by industry, particularly the social housing sector, started to show us that there was real complexity; there was a need to address not only the physical nature of the property but also to address issues about people, policy, regulation, building physics, market transformation, supply chains, processes and monitoring. Industry was developing skills to address these issues, while academia identified the problem as being socio-technical in nature (Trist and Bamforth 1951; Trist 1981). Socio-technical systems provide an analytical framework to understand the interplay between physical ‘things’, rules and people, where regulation, technology, contracts and the way people live all interact to drive the success or failure of a new idea. This is can be considered at the small scale or extended to consider national issues such as retrofit (Geels 2005).

How do we, as academics, go about addressing a problem like the sustainable ­retrofit of buildings? We are traditionally isolated within specific discipline silos and are often viewed as maintaining a healthy distance from industry. We bid competitively, we are sometimes slow to share data and we are rewarded for publishing in journals that have a 2-year peer review process and small, specialist readerships. However, we are confronted with a problem that is current, interdisciplinary and pressing. The data that are produced by research need to be available more quickly, whilst at the same time maintaining rigour in our collection and analysis of that data. Academics need to get involved, not only in an evaluative mode, critiquing governmental and industrial intellectual shortcomings, but getting genuinely engaged – getting our hands dirty and, to some extent, putting our money where our mouth is. While the description of academics in their ‘ivory towers’ is less true today than it ever has been, we are still left with institutional frameworks, both within individual universities and in wider national structures that are designed to serve a different model.

If the problem is as serious as identified by Kevin Anderson (see the Foreword in this volume), then we need an academic approach that is fit for purpose. As Oreszczyn and Lowe (2010) and Lomas (2010) identified, we need an engaged, action-oriented, interdisciplinary nationally co-ordinated approach. Industry and academia need to run alongside one another and learning needs to be more quickly shared and implemented.

It is from this perspective that Retrofit 2012 was developed. Retrofit 2012 was a conference held in Salford, United Kingdom, in January 2012 and brought together over 100 papers from across the disciplines. It represented a chance for behavioural scientists, building surveyors, energy modellers, social policy academics and a wide range of other disciplines to share ideas. We also opened up the floor to participants from industry to share their experiences, data and insights from the field. For three days the traditional barriers were to some degree broken down, as practitioners and academics from different disciplines all expressed their views with regard to their perspective on the retrofit challenge. What was apparent from the sessions was that the traditional barriers between practice and academia and the disciplines frustrated many people. They were interested in the problem and relevant solutions; they wanted to talk about practical issues, using academic tools to clarify the sustainable retrofit problem for a wider audience than just their specific discipline.

Retrofitting the Built Environment is an extension of this conference. Contained within is a mix of policy, technical and social science papers, presented by both academic and industry authors, giving a multiple perspective of the issue from both a UK and international perspective.

The book is divided into four sections: Understanding the problem, Policy and regulation, Implementing and evaluating retrofit and People and communities.