Let’s say you’re looking at a row of houses in an average UK street. You’re tasked with retrofitting them all to high standards of energy efficiency. Few would doubt that this is a daunting prospect.
While this is a simplistic scenario, it is very close to reality. For the country to meet its 80 per cent carbon reduction targets, we need to be refurbishing more than 13,000 homes need every week. And the first big issue facing those who are doing the retrofitting is where to get precise information on what works, where.
From early next year, this problem is being tackled in the form of a new online National Refurbishment Centre.
The Energy Saving Trust and the BRE Trust have joined forces – together with partners from across the industry – to develop the centre, which will gather evidence through a nationwide demonstration programme of 450-500 exemplar buildings, the largest of its kind in the UK.
The intention is to provide a set of precedents, so that housing providers, refurbishment professionals, policy makers and Green Deal investors can make informed decisions about how they deliver green refurbishment on a national and local scale. Or, in other words, about what refurb work in each home will make the most carbon – and money – savings.
This should help with that other sample scenario, where a householder who needs work done – say, a new kitchen – wants advice on how to get the most green benefit out of it. Or hasn’t yet realised that this might be an option.
The site will also hold technical guides and other resources, which will evolve with the National Refurbishment Centre, the aim being to make the website a ‘first-stop-shop’ for all information concerning refurbishment – a boon to both industry and the aforementioned householder.
The National Refurbishment Centre is a collaborative initiative. The list of partners involved – which includes suppliers, deliverers and main contractors, local authorities, housing associations and other organisations – is impressive. BASF, British Gas, Building Research Housing Group, B&Q, Constructing Excellence, Construction Skills, DuPont, Gentoo Group, Homes and Communities Agency, Kier, Kingfisher, and RIBA, are among those who have signed up.
The centre is also making links with other major refurbishment projects such as the Technology Strategy Board’s Retrofit for the Future programme, the Energy Technologies Institute, the Victorian Terrace Project and Salford University’s ‘House in a Lab’ project.
This all makes a holistically green approach more likely in your own home, up and down your own street, and across Britain. We’ll be following up with more information about the National Refurbishment Centre as it moves towards the launch early next year.