UCL Energy Institute


Practical reports show way to successful domestic retrofit

7 December 2012

Retrofit insights: perspectives for an emerging industry

UCL-Energy and the Institute for Sustainability today reveal a comprehensive set of reports and guides to help businesses and public sector organisations unlock the huge potential of the UK’s domestic retrofit market and increase the capacity of the supply chain in the construction sector.

The partnership will produce a range of publications addressing the challenges of retrofitting domestic properties. Together they offer the first independent analysis of the UK’s leading domestic retrofit demonstrators; the Technology Strategy Board’s £17 million ‘Retrofit for the Future’ (R4tF) programme. Eight projects consisting of ten houses were selected from 25 R4tF projects in London based on their social and economic diversity.

Based on in-depth interviews with retrofit project teams and residents who have taken part in the R4tF programme, the publications highlight best practice for successful domestic retrofit projects. Produced primarily for built environment businesses, the publications provide valuable insights for other stakeholders, including social housing providers, local authorities, academics and even householders.

The lead report ‘Retrofit Insights: perspectives for an emerging industry’ summarises the complete analysis addressing a number of key issues including how retrofit can realistically help with the UK's low carbon targets, capturing the occupant's experience of retrofit delivery and installed measures, how these can add value to improve comfort in the home and how the supply chain needs to be developed in order to deliver retrofit at scale.

Based on a series of interviews and feedback sessions with project teams, the ‘Retrofit project team perspectives summary guides’ identify lessons learned during projects covering:

· working with residents

· retrofit delivery

· retrofit strategies

· mechanical and electrical systems integration.

The ‘Occupant centred retrofit: engagement and communication guide’summarises the findings from the post occupancy evaluation interviews with retrofit occupants. Detailed analyses will also be made available on the Institute’s website.

A separate guide, also released today by the Institute for Sustainability and Action Sustainability, in association with Lend Lease, provides best practice guidance for large organisations looking to diversify their supply chain by engaging with SMEs. The report, ‘Best Practice Guidance for Successful SME Engagement’, has been written with the construction sector in mind, but is relevant to all sectors.

Finally, the Institute's updated Buildings Opportunities for Business: Low Carbon Domestic Retrofit Guides (reflecting the latest developments on Government incentive schemes including the Green Deal) are also being made available. The guides, written by leading academic and industry experts,  provide practical and commercially focused advice and best practice to both trades and professions. 

The series of reports are the culmination of the Institute for Sustainability’s £10 million FLASH programme, a three year project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. FLASH aims to provide businesses with the information and support they need to seize the commercial opportunities arising from the low carbon economy.

UCL research aims and objectives

The intention of these reports are to use learning and insights from this analysis to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the construction industry to prepare for emerging business opportunities in retrofit. As a result, the UCL-Energy team had the following research objectives:

· To understand the retrofit strategies adopted by the Project Teams by carrying out hindsight reviews and “wash-up” meetings

· To capture the occupants’ experiences of the retrofit process and their response to the outcomes

· To investigate the physical outcomes of retrofit interventions by analysing physical monitoring data

· To identify and understand the factors and mechanisms that affect outcomes, by carrying out an integrated analysis of all the above data.

The UCL analysis of the Retrofit for the Future project content sits together like this:

Stage 1

UCL created the full ‘Key findings report ’ – based on project team interviews/wash up meetings

Stage 2    

The Institute identified four themes in the Key findings report and created four short theme summaries (attachment file names Guides 1, 2, 3 and 4) for an SME-facing audience

Stage 3  

UCL created the full ‘Post Occupancy Interview (POI) report based on analysis of resident experienceinterviews

Stage 4      

UCL created the Occupant Centred Retrofit (OCR) summary/guide which summarises the POI report for an SME-facing audience

Stage 5

UCL reviewed all material above as well as other data and analysis undertaken as part of this project to create an integrated report called Retrofit insights: perspectives for an emerging industry – this summarises all the analysis into an SME-facing final document.