Retrofit experts highlight critical actions required to reach net zero targets

Retrofit experts highlight critical actions required to reach net zero targets

A team of 14 industry-leading organisations have joined forces to encourage the Scottish Government to take urgent action to strategically tackle the country’s draughty homes challenge.

The group has published a document recommending the government establish an essential ministerial oversight group on retrofit and develop a delivery plan to ensure the necessary financial and human resources are in place to support widescale retrofit across the country.

They say if the government does not follow advice on adopting a fabric-first approach to retrofitting it will struggle to tackle its fuel poverty and net-zero targets and households will be left with energy inefficient homes that are draughty and expensive to heat.

According to BRE Trust data, two in every five occupied homes in Scotland do not meet quality standards, with the highest failure rates relating to energy efficiency.

Jocelyne Fleming, policy and public affairs officer Scotland at CIOB, said: “Scottish Government has accepted meeting our net zero targets will require significant increases to the pace and scale of retrofit projects being undertaken across the country.

“Our message to the Scottish Government is clear, we need joined-up, holistic policymaking to meet the retrofit challenge we’re facing. Developing a long-term Retrofit Delivery Plan that considers how we will adequately resource these projects – both financially and with a sufficient pipeline with the right people and skills – will support both Government and industry to achieve these objectives.

“The plan needs to be designed in collaboration with built environment industry partners and address the existing barriers to the complex retrofit challenge, as well as provide long-term targets and measurement tools which are fit-for-purpose and driven by evidence.”

This ongoing collaborative effort comes after the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) hosted a ‘Retrofit Roundtable’ – sponsored by Gordon MacDonald MSP and attended by members from across the Chamber – in May 2023 to discuss the nation’s retrofit challenge and consider solutions.

The Retrofit Roundtable membership, which ranges from practitioners, to academics, to policy professionals, demonstrates the importance of diversity in delivering retrofit. The group is committed to working together across the industry, and encourages the government to take a similarly collaborative, cross-portfolio approach.

Gordon Macdonald MSP said: “As the Scottish Government has recognised through its recent investments in many energy-efficiency programmes and initiatives, tackling retrofit is an important issue as we work towards reaching environmental targets like net zero.”

He added: “I have seen the positive impacts of these investments in my own constituency: council tenants, owner occupiers and private lets in Wester Hailes have benefitted from the commitment and funding provided by the Scottish Government to provide energy efficient measures including insulation.

“I am pleased to see the built environment sector is coming together on such a vital topic and I look forward to working closely with representatives from the industry moving forward.”

Following the initial calls for action in May last year, the Retrofit Roundtable group has continued to meet to discuss the unique challenges widescale retrofit projects create and to identify opportunities to remove any barriers to delivery. 

Retrofitting refers to measures like adding insulation, double-glazing and fitting draught excluders to doors. This reduces heat loss from properties, minimising energy consumption and shrinking bills for residents. An energy reduction will also lead to lower carbon emissions from homes which are powered or heated by fossil fuels.

Organisations which contributed to the document include:

  • Built Environment Forum Scotland  
  • Built Environment – Smarter Transformation 
  • Chartered Institute of Building  
  • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers  
  • Federation of Master Builders  
  • GRAS Architects 
  • Procast 
  • Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland 
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors 
  • Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation 
  • Scottish Traditional Building Forum 
  • SELECT  
  • Stone Federation Great Britain  
  • UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence.

Meanwhile, Procast Group has also thrown its weight behind the Scottish Government’s national housing emergency declaration. Procast Group said it is keen to be a part of the solution with its retrofitting expertise.

Derek Innes, owner and managing director of Procast Group, said: “We are encouraged with the outcome of the Retrofit Roundtable and delighted to have played our part.

“We will continue to assist and support the Scottish Government in pushing forward the retrofitting agenda as they strive to meet net zero targets.

“It is an exciting time to be a progressive and innovative contract such as Procast Group and we hope to be able to provide solutions to the challenges facing housing across Scotland.

“The recent declaration of a housing emergency across the country is a positive step and a challenge we are ready to rise to as the Scottish Government look to tackle the crisis.”

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