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The Great British Retrofit

The Great British Retrofit: the scaling of the supply chain to achieve home decarbonisation in the UK

Decarbonising the UK’s housing stock plays a critical role in helping the UK meet its net zero targets. A recently published thought-leadership collaboration between BaringaLink opens in a new window,TrustMarkLink opens in a new window, Travis PerkinsLink opens in a new window and WMG(Supply Chain Research Group) University of Warwick, examines the opportunities open to the UK to meet these targets.

Decarbonising the UK’s housing

In the UK, decarbonising the UK housing stock plays a critical role in supporting the transition away from fossil fuels. Heating systems are responsible fornearly a third of the nation's annual carbon footprint, and the domestic heating sector alone contributes 17% of this total. This statistic rivals the emissions generated by the entire fleet of the country's petrol and diesel vehicles. Yet the UK has some of the oldest and leakiest housing in Europe, with around two thirds being rated EPC D and below, according to the Green Building Council, therefore retrofitting is a mammoth undertaking.

Scaling up the housing retrofit

Research to date has mainly focused on driving demand among homeowners and this has left a gap in skills and resources - the technologies, merchants, installers and contractors - who can meet this demand at scale. Yet to achieve the UK government target of Net Zero by 2050 requires over 2 million homes a year undergoing retrofitting by 2030.

Working with Baringa, Dr Alok Choudhary and Aitana Ucles (PGR - postgraduate research)) explored what is needed to scale-up the supply chain centring on three topics: (1) the green skills gap, (2) the lack of standardise certification, and (3) the complexity within the supply chain. The published report summarises how opportunities in policymaking, adoption of technologies and UK manufacturing could support the scale up needed for Net Zero.

Filling the gap

The construction industry has neither the capability nor volume, within the current workforce to undertake retrofitting proficiently. To fill this gap, policy and regulation need to incentivise entry into, and growth of, the workforce, by supporting standardised training that integrates skills with Level 2 qualifications. Raising awareness and incentivising CPD opportunities for the workforce should also bridge across trades and recognise regional differences.

Homeowners and lenders need assurance on the quality and sustainability of retrofitting. The government and Trustmark can go some way to reduce the barriers to adopting quality standards and certification, while complexity of sourcing, logistics and sustainability within the supply chain requires a new business model to deliver a sustainable long-term materials supply.

Untangling the complexity of green retrofitting

It is vital that the construction sector creates a viable economic model that allows the supply chain to support the shift towards more energy-, carbon-, and cost-efficient homes. The recommendations in this ground-breaking report show how it is possible to capitalise on the significant business opportunities and create a supportive environment for green retrofitting.

Interested in partnering with the University of Warwick?