Refurbishment has arguably the greatest role of all to play in creating a more sustainable future, despite the more onerous constraints or working with existing fabric and services. Retrofit is the term used to describe the upgrade of buildings with measures to improve their energy performance or health and well-being. These might include interventions such as additional of internal or external insulation, replacement fenestration, improved air tightness and ventilation or heating and hot water system upgrades.
With the oldest stock of buildings in Europe it is vital that retrofit becomes more common place if the UK is to make meaningful reductions in its environmental impact. Additionally, our low rates of demolition and replacement require us to retrofit some 26 million homes and non-domestic buildings over the coming decades!
The potential for improvements will vary according to building typology but, whatever the level of refurbishment being considered, it is important that a whole building retrofit strategy is followed. The most cost-effective aim is to ‘do it once and do it well’ – ie make deep cuts in energy use now or at least not create barriers to future upgrades through half measures – hence the emerging term ‘deep’ retrofit.