UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Facilitation, learning and sharing (FLASH)

30 November 2016

Key facts:

  • Funding Body/Client: Institute for Sustainability (IfS)/ERDF
  • Project Partners: UCL Energy Institute 
  • Total Project Value: £ 10 million
  • UCL/IEDE Project Value Share: £152,000
  • Duration: 2011-2012
  • Status: Complete

The UK’s national target is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2050. In 2009, our homes accounted for more than 28% of total UK energy use and based on average replacement rates we expect more than 80% of existing housing will still be in use in 2050. Retrofitting buildings is one of the biggest jobs and growth opportunities in the UK, but to make such large-scale changes, significant transformation in the industry is needed.

The £10 million FLASH (Facilitation, Learning and Sharing) programme aimed to support a step change in the built environment industry by engaging London Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with the commercial potential of low carbon building and retrofit. Over one thousand businesses have benefitted from the programme. Through the Institute’s strategic partnership with the Technology Strategy Board, businesses have accessed learning from the UK’s leading retrofit demonstrator projects. FLASH was also designed to help built environment businesses understand how the low carbon agenda can mean new business and a higher turnover.

This includes improving their own operations to help make them more competitive, as well as contributing to carbon reduction targets. FLASH has also helped built environment SMEs to navigate the latest developments on low carbon retrofit legislation and incentive schemes, such as the Green Deal.


PI:Tadj Oreszczyn                                             

Co-I:Bob Lowe 

R/Project Manager: Rokia Raslan  

R: Hector Altamirano and Laifong Chiu


University College London (UCL) lead on the first independent analysis of the outcomes of selected retrofit projects from the Technology Strategy Board’s Retrofit for the Future (RftF) programme, which incorporates both the project team and occupant experience. This resulted in several publications including:

Academic publications: A socio-technical approach to post-occupancy evaluation: interactive adaptability in domestic retrofit (Building Research & Information: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09613218.2014.912539) Industry reports: Analysis on the selected RftF projects has resulted in a series of reports and summaries which can be accessed here (http://instituteforsustainability.co.uk/retrofitanalsyis.html).'Retrofit Insights: perspectives for an emerging industry' summarises the complete analysis to address a number of key issues including how retrofit can realistically help address 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. The 'Retrofit project team perspectives summary guides' identify lessons learned during projects covering working with residents, retrofit delivery, retrofit strategies and mechanical and electrical systems integration. The 'Occupant centred retrofit: engagement and communication guide' summarises key themes from the post occupancy evaluation interviews with retrofit occupants.


The project has provided London-based SMEs with access to the most recent and credible analysis and industry best practice. The output from this project has been widely disseminated in industry and academia through a partnership with the IfS to produce a range of publications addressing the challenges of retrofitting domestic properties which can be accessed here (http://instituteforsustainability.co.uk/retrofitanalsyis.html). UCL’s work on the project has been prominently featured in the  “Plus Points Newsletter “ issued by the South East Center for the Built Environment (SECBE) (http://www.secbe.org.uk/flashplus/newsletter/plus_points_issue_6) and on the RftF project consortia member bere:architects website.

UCL staff gave a presentation entitled "Energy Demand - Understanding the people and technology interface" as part of a session on "Design of sustainable homes with end-users in mind" at Ecobuild on 5th March 2014.  The talk drew on the speakers' work on the FLASH project. The key message was that engagement and communication with occupants throughout the retrofit process improves physical performance, occupant satisfaction and feedback on performance to design teams, thus underpinning learning and adaptation. (http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/energy/news/ecobuild-2014).


More information about retrofit for the future

For further information please contact: Rokia Raslan