Retrofit London

 

Retrofit London is a collaborative programme being led by London’s local authorities which will achieve mass home retrofitting to achieve an average Energy Performance Certificate Level of B by 2030. It is being led by the London boroughs of Enfield and Waltham Forest, with support from London Councils and the London Housing Directors’ Group (LHDG), a professional network of senior housing officers.

London’s housing stock is responsible for around a third of all carbon emissions in the capital, while around 80% of all homes expected to exist in 2050 have already been built. Home retrofitting, involving fabric improvements, renewable energy generation and low carbon heat sources, is essential for making London’s homes greener, warmer and more affordable to live in. For these reasons, there is also a high level of political support across London to achieve deep carbon reductions from home retrofit.

The Retrofit London Programme is nationally significant, with an estimated cost of £49m to reach an average of EPC B by 2030 so it requires a collaborative approach from all parts of government and the retrofit sector to ensure success. 

The video below shows how London Councils have been working with the GLA to retrofit London's homes, with examples of existing projects.

 

In October 2021, the Retrofit London Housing Action Plan was launched and it provides a detailed, cross-tenure, approach to retrofitting London's 3.7 million homes so they are an average of EPC B or equivalent by 2030. It sets out a number of collaborative actions that can be taken forward in London along with further proposed metrics – including overall carbon emissions, space heating demand and energy use – that can be adopted to ensure the average EPC B target is achieved in a way that fully realises London’s ambitions to address climate change and fuel poverty. It also provides an opportunity to grow the green economy, create thousands of new jobs and provoke innovation within the sector.

Supporting the Plan is comprehensive analysis of London’s housing stock, which provides an assessment of the number of measures required to achieve the home retrofit targets, the trades requirements involved and associated costs.

Development of the Plan was led by the London Housing Directors’ Group and London Councils with support from the Greater London Authority and the London Environment Directors’ Network (LEDNet). The action plan was produced on behalf of the boroughs by a consortium led by Etude, while the data analysis was undertaken by Parity Projects.

The action plan was officially launched at an event on Tuesday 26 October 2021. A recording of the event can be found on London Councils' YouTube channel.

 

The Retrofit London Housing Implementation Plan is the next stage of a journey which will end with all of London’s homes being retrofitted.

The Plan takes the recommended actions from the Retrofit London Housing Action Plan and translates them into priorities and tasks with timescales for delivery over the next 12 months.

For 2022/23 the priorities are:

  Priority A   Leading delivery   Priority G  Skills
  Priority B   Data and monitoring   Priority H  Planning
  Priority C  Action plans for Local Authority housing   Priority I  Finance and funding
  Priority D  Reducing energy demand   Priority J  Procurement
  Priority E  Heat pumps   Priority K  Communications and case making
  Priority F  Heat networks   Priority L  Community and resident engagement

 

FAQ

Response

What does 'Retrofit' mean?

‘Retrofit’ refers to “the upgrading of a building to enable it to respond to the imperative of climate change”. Retrofit may involve improvements to fabric through repair, renovation, refurbishment and/or restoration of the building as well as use of low carbon energy. The aim is to both mitigate against climate change and ensure the building is well adapted for our changing climate.

What is Retrofit London?

Retrofit London is a collaborative programme taken forward by the London boroughs to achieve home retrofitting on an unprecedented scale across London’s housing stock. The programme is led by the London Boroughs of Enfield and Waltham Forest and supported by London Councils and the London Housing Directors’ Group (LHDG), a professional network of senior housing officers from across the 33 London local authorities. The aim of the project is to Retrofit all domestic buildings to an average Energy Performance Certificate level B by 2030. This ambition was outlined in the London Councils' Joint Statement on Climate Change, as part of seven stretching climate pledges agreed by all 33 London local authorities.

Why is Retrofit London important?

London’s housing stock is responsible for around a third of all carbon emissions in the capital, while 80% of all London homes expected to exist in 2050 have already been built.  Home retrofitting is therefore an imperative for addressing climate change.  Fuel poverty is also an issue for many Londoners, exacerbated by increases in energy costs and the general cost of living crisis – improved energy efficiency of homes is an outcome of retrofit. For this reason, there is a high level of political support across London to achieve deep carbon reductions from home retrofit.

How was the Retrofit London Action Plan developed?

The Action Plan was developed by the London Housing Directors’ Group (LHDG) and London Councils, along with Enfield and Waltham Forest who are the lead local authorities for the project. All London borough Housing Directors agreed the Action Plan in July 2021. Development of the Action Plan was jointly funded by London Council’s, LHDG, the Greater London Authority, and the London Environment Directors' Network.

We commissioned technical consultancy and detailed data analysis to ensure this was an evidence-led Action Plan. The programme undertook wide consultation with Local Authorities and key stakeholders (including more than 100 individuals) to ensure an evidence-led and rigorous approach.

The plan sets out a number of collaborative actions that can be taken forward in London along with further proposed metrics – including metrics on overall carbon emissions, space heating demand and energy use – that can be adopted to ensure the average EPC B target is achieved in a way that fully realises London’s ambitions to address climate change and fuel poverty. It also provides an opportunity to grow the green economy, create thousands of new jobs and provoke innovation within the sector.

What is the role of the Greater London Authority in Retrofit London?

The programme works closely with the GLA, who are members of the Retrofit London Steering Group and were part of the project team that helped develop the Action Plan. 

Who is involved in delivering Retrofit London?

All London local authorities have agreed the Retrofit London Action Plan. There are two lead boroughs, Enfield and Waltham Forest, these boroughs work directly with London Councils to drive this project forward.

Retrofit London has also established a steering group to oversee and advise on delivery. These were established to lead on implementation of the Retrofit London Housing Action Plan, which was launched by London Councils and the London Housing Directors’ Group in October 2021. The steering group includes representatives of the London boroughs (reflecting the council functions relevant to the retrofit agenda), BEIS and DLUHC, as well as the GLA and representatives from London First, the housing association sector and London skills sector.

A Retrofit London Programme Management Office (PMO) will be launched later this year and funded through borough subscriptions. The PMO will lead the delivery of milestones highlighted raised through the Retrofit London Housing Implementation Plan.

What is the cost of retrofitting London's homes?

Data analysis undertaken for the Retrofit London Action Plan highlighted the costs (as at July 2021) involved in delivering retrofit across all of London, there are two scenarios that were modelled as part of this work:

  • Scenario 1: c.56% carbon reduction and near average EPC B: Total cost (labour & materials) of £49bn (average cost of £13,000 per residential property affected).
  • Scenario 2: Net Zero and average EPC B: Total cost (labour & materials) of £98bn (average cost of £26,000 per residential property affected).

The price of Retrofit will vary across properties, this is dependant on the depth of retrofit required and other factors, including the style of home. The cost is expected to range from hundreds of pounds to much higher costs for properties where deeper retrofit is required. 

What is an Energy Performance Certificate rating?

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a measure of cost rather than carbon, meaning the higher the EPC rating, the lower the cost of heating the property. Net Zero is recognised as the ultimate goal in legislation and has significant political traction.

What are the main funding sources for retrofitting homes?

The following funding streams are available:

  • Green Homes Grant (Local Authority Delivery scheme) - £500 million

  • Sustainable Warmth Competition - £500 million

  • Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) - £3.8 billion

  • Green Heat Network Fund - £288 million

  • Warmer Homes Programme - £51 million

  • Retrofit Accelerator - £3.6 million

  • Mayor of London’s Energy Efficiency Fund - £500 million

  • Mayor of London’s Green Bond - £500 million

It is recognised that the amount of funding available from central government is not sufficient to retrofit homes at the scale required and the criteria focuses on worst first and to households on low incomes meaning that scale of investment and solutions at a place-based level is difficult to achieve. As a result, Retrofit London will look to unlock funding from alternative sources, such as private funding. This approach can also be supported by other work led by London Councils, such as the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission. 

How does the project ensure that all boroughs are aligned and moving in the same direction?
 
The Retrofit London Action Plan outlines a set of core principles that all boroughs have agreed and underpin all the proposed actions:
 
1) Boroughs need to retrofit their own stock and facilitate retrofit on the whole housing stock
2) Boroughs are vital in creating and shaping a stable and sustainable retrofit market
3) Planning decisions and guidance should support low carbon retrofit
4) We need to move away from gas heating rapidly (and hydrogen is unlikely to be the answer
5) Achieving Net Zero will require energy efficiency and carbon data/metrics in addition to EPC ratings
6) Retrofit should seek to avoid a significant increase in energy costs
7) Asset management / maintenance decisions should be consistent with the Retrofit Action Plan 
8) Boroughs will work collectively to develop skills, procurement models, and engage with residents
 
How do heat pumps fit into these Retrofit efforts by London Local Authoriries?

Changing to low carbon heat is an urgent priority, the Retrofit London Housing Action Plan outlines the need to accelerate the move away from gas boilers towards heating systems using electricity. Heat pumps should be the priority as a low carbon option that uses electricity efficiently.  Alternative methods, including hydrogen convertible gas boilers, are not currently as effective or widely available. The programme will, however, ensure that new and evolving technologies are considered throughout the project lifecycle. 

What is the role of photovoltaics in this Retrofit effort?

We need to increase solar energy generated in London to reduce carbon emissions and balance energy use. Many homes have a significant roof space and residents can directly benefit from this electricity whilst delivering a return on the capital investment either to the individual property owner or at an infrastructure level. Individual houses are best-placed for solar Photovoltaics (PV), as they can be directly connected via the roof. Opportunities for solar PVs for flats are more limited as a result.

Retrofit London is focused on domestic premises, what about commercial premises?

London councils have worked with GLA and CBI to develop a single standard for commercial retrofit. 

Will retrofitting London homes increase jobs?

Home retrofit provides a fantastic opportunity for job creation in London. Analysis undertaken for the project estimated that it can create an average 40,900 full time equivalent jobs for 9 years to get all homes to EPC B by 2030 and achieve 56% emissions reductions.

As the green economy continues to grow, and legacy job roles in the fossil fuel industry reduce over time, there will be a need to support these workers to re-train and opt for green jobs. The Mayor of London’s Green Academy Programme is one the schemes that will help boost green jobs. There is also an opportunity to improve diversity within the sector and to support the creation of a fairer economy. The current construction workforce is majority male, the green sector offers the opportunity to improve this at all levels. 

How can homeowners and Private Rented Sector landlords be motivated and helped with the upheaval and cost required to Retrofit their properties?

Many homeowners and landlords are currently unaware of what they can achieve by retrofitting their property, may not be confident about the technical works required or are put off by the perceived upheaval from works. 

Individual homeowners and many landlords may be asset rich but cash poor and cannot afford to carry out a full retrofit of properties. London local authorities also have limited means due to the considerable competing demands on their resources. Recent government schemes have increased the public funds available, but not yet to the level required, and private finance solutions are not yet widely available. Supporting residents to access these funds and lobbying for further support will be important. We also need to devise new mechanisms for funding retrofit.

Showcasing case studies to demystify the process and highlight the benefits that residents experience as a result of such works will also be important.

How do councils decide whether to Retrofit vs demolish and rebuild?

Around 30% of the carbon footprint of a building is the embodied carbon in the building. Of course, the decision is not simple as it is a complex decision often taking account of the need for regeneration, improving the condition of the local housing stock and often the energy performance of properties. The New London Plan sets out planning guidelines for refurbishment vs demolition that ultimately guide planning decisions locally.