Our research for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority identified 5 key themes:
Trusted offer - this is the key starting point, setting out a new improved approach, having learnt from past mistakes with quality and suitability of work.
Building the market - market segmentation is crucial, identifying triggers relating to both buildings and occupants of homes.
Fit for purpose - retrofit must be effective - from specification to building work, it needs to consider the whole house, its occupants and the wider environment.
Paying for it - paying for the work will require the mobilisation of massive amounts of capital. Initially this will need to be cheap and patient to enable the market to scale up without penalising early adopters. Different ways of providing access to finance, suitable for different household situations and tenures. Bill savings can be combined with other incomes including selling energy to the grid.
Delivery - there has to be a long term pipeline of work that gives confidence in investment in training and business development - not the damaging boom and bust of short term, easily cancelled programmes. New business models are needed to scale up at high speed.
This is not a single big issue: retrofitting homes requires many interrelated components, working together.
1. Customer journey: starts with knowledge of what needs improving in each home, informs independent advice to occupants and owners which they can trust, putting them on a path to a retrofit that retains that trust.
2. Assessment and calculation: the initial home energy use assessment must be able to accurately predict the most effective Whole House Retrofit, in terms of cost and performance.
3. Monitoring and data: more information is needed on where energy is wasted, with records of building improvements and which worked, to enable rapid development of best practice.
4. IT and software: whole House Retrofit currently needs a lot of property-specific assessment and design work which cannot deliver cost effective scale: software solutions could improve efficiency, accuracy and enable mass customisation.
5. Specification and detailing: the materials chosen for a retrofit and installation methods need radical improvement.
6. Contacting and guarantees: contracting needs to better reflect the realities of this new industry, with guarantees of performance.
7. Additional revenues: bill savings cannot match deep retrofit costs alone, other revenues need to be identified to balance costs and savings. The growth of renewables and storage offers an opportunity for additional revenues through aggregation of energy sales.
8. Finance vehicle: attractive offers need to be available to all forms of customer and could facilitate quality control by specifying approved contractors. If the cost of finance is low this could create a margin to pay for delivery costs and assistance for the less able to pay.
9. Scalability: care needs to be taken avoid overtaking the development of the rest of the components. Certainty of future work and development of the supply chain and delivery mechanisms enables sustainable growth.
10. Workforce development & skills: action to address current skills shortages will contribute to economic recovery, by training a skilled workforce across a wide range of roles and skill levels.
So there’s enough for all of us to work together on the parts we’re good at making up this larger whole that can deliver a zero carbon viable future with healthy comfortable homes for all into the bargain.