Sustainable BuildingsRetrofittingRetrofitting Reports: Prime Publications on Policy and Practice

Retrofitting Reports: Prime Publications on Policy and Practice

Karl Dickinson
Karl Dickinson
Change matters. It takes courage. As a writer - and citizen - I am inspired by stories of those who challenge the 'we've always done it this way' attitude. We can do better - it's time to listen to those who go against the grain.

Retrofitting is big news. The internet is home to many academic papers and reports on the subject. Aside from providing a lot of empirical data, the impressive level of research shows us just how complex the subject is and how much we still need to discover. What follows below is a helpful selection of retrofitting reports that covers a wide range of what’s out there, from case studies to policy recommendations.

Retrofitting Reports

Reinventing Retrofit

With support from the European Regional Development Fund, Devon County Council used Energiesprong prefab modular retrofit units for its Zero Energy Buildings Catalyst (ZEBCat) project. The Green Alliance produced this report. Their findings on upscaling and industrialisation are useful for rolling out readymade insulated and solar-ready building envelope parts to meet carbon targets.

Retrofit Social Housing Report – Better Homes Improve Lives

Published by Nottingham Trent University, this report reflects on the various retrofit measures installed in more than 450 homes as part of the REMOURBAN project. It covers what upgrades were used and how this impacted energy efficiency and the people living there.

UK Housing: Fit for the Future?

A scathing look at how we’re currently falling short of efficiency standards, taking homes in the UK as a benchmark. Alongside general property performance, it examines poor progress in funding, skills, and changes to existing and new builds. A real wake-up call.

Retrofitting Existing Homes for Climate Change Impacts

Published in 2009, this report from Arup is still an important read for anyone wanting to know the minimising impact small and affordable changes to our homes can have on climate change.

How to Calculate and Present Deep Retrofit Value: A Guide for Owner-Occupants

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) explains the value added by retrofitting for business units. It looks at, among others: better employee productivity; “bolstered leadership credentials and reputation; access to tax, finance, and entitlement subsidies; improved risk management”; and higher rental income.

Tower Renewal Partnership

This Canadian non-profit looks into all aspects of retrofitting post-war tower blocks and the community regeneration that it can jumpstart. They have a range of very useful reports. Our highlights include:

Green Stimulus in Canada’s Building Sector

Read the recommendations the Pembina Institute sent to the Government of Canada to stimulate the country’s climate goals through retrofitting.

Delivering and Funding Housing Retrofit: A Review of Community Models

Arup shares their findings and recommendations on different models for retrofitting. These comprise of public-sector-led, community-led, and market-based models.


Better Building(s)

Published by the Institute for Human Rights and Business, this report aims to inspire policymakers and investors “to ensure that financing decarbonisation in Europe’s built environment is done in a way that leaves no-one behind, maximises social benefits, and is consistent with human rights commitments across the region”.

Bankers for NetZero Briefing: The Retrofit Revolution

This paper points out that well-designed policy has been central to wind and solar generation becoming widespread and affordable. Other retrofit technology can follow suit, but a fall in price depends on growth in markets and increased accessibility. This can be expedited if governments recognise the gains of investing in tech, funding, and public awareness. is a federation of European community energy groups. They offer a range of reports in their toolbox to help new groups navigate the ins-and-outs of CE so they can get off the ground. Search by activity or power source, audience (from citizens to local authorities) and preferred resource type. Their learning is generated from the experiences of 27 European projects.

Policy and Funding

Power Struggles from The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) makes a number of policy recommendations to assist with developing “strategies that help secure affordable access to utilities and energy-efficient homes for financially constrained households”. But most striking about this report is the 10 case studies of vulnerable and marginalised people struggling with energy poverty exacerbated by health and social issues. A powerful read.

Framework for Long-Term Deep Carbon Reduction Planning

The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Innovation Network for Communities teamed up to put together this comprehensive report that aims to inspire policy- and decision-makers to make local changes. It draws on examples of carbon reduction methods from “visionary leaders” around the world who “share their lessons and strategies for deep carbon reductions”.

Accelerating Building Efficiency: Eight Actions for Urban Leaders

A focus on policy and practical action that decision-makers in cities can implement to drive urban change. Aside from better energy performance, it provides guidance for becoming a stand-out example for other cities to follow.

Retrofit Funding Propositions

Derived from the UK Green Building Council’s Accelerator Cities programme. This is a summary and recommendations paper exploring possibilities for success. It promotes partnership between local authorities and the finance community as best practice “to drive retrofit at scale”. It advocates “for a deeper, local understanding of the market” to facilitate appropriate funding models and stimulus for scaling and using pilots to test each idea.

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