Retrofit for the Future
Downloads for Phase 1 contract holders
Technical and Energy Modelling Guidance Notes
SAP Extension for Whole House Worksheet
Energy Saving Trust evaluating energy and carbon performance
Retrofit for the future specification for monitoring equipment

To meet the UK's target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, we must dramatically improve the performance of existing UK housing stock. Housing in the UK accounts for 27% of carbon emissions and at least 60% of the houses in use in 2050 have already been built.

In 2009 the Technology Strategy Board made £17m UK government investment in the first national retrofit scheme, aimed at demonstrating how future targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions can be met. It is intended that the principles established by Retrofit for the Future prototypes can be applied throughout the country.

Through the Retrofit for the Future programme, eighty six social housing projects across the UK were funded. Each of the projects, which are managed by housing associations, architects, construction companies and local councils, have implemented 'low carbon refits' of existing low-rise social housing that will meet the UK government's target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of 80% by 2050, while also cutting energy use dramatically.

The competition will:

  • Kick start for the retrofit market and prepare UK business for the opportunity
  • Find Innovative and cost effective solutions from UK business and evaluate them for future procurement
  • Create exemplar retrofitted properties with radical solutions for real people
  • Develop a demonstrator pattern book and database
  • Develop UK skills
  • Provide Evidence of actual in-use performance benefits and costs

Retrofit for the Future - Phase 1 and Phase 2 funding

Phase 1 -194 projects were funded to cover 'Design and Feasibility' of the retrofit approach, including SAP modelling and whole house energy calculations. Each was funded up to a maximum of £20K (inc VAT) per project

Phase 2 - 86 projects were funded to cover 'Retrofit' demonstrator implementation. Costs included technologies and build, but also wider costs such as decanting tenants, low energy white goods etc. A broad range of house types are present in 86 funded projects, including pre 1900, No-fines, solid wall, brick post WWII, cavity wall post 1980, conservation areas, etc

The Energy and CO2 Targets

Programme applicants were asked to develop retrofit solutions that would result in deep cuts to CO2 emissions and greatly improve energy performance. Energy performance targets for the programme based on an 80% reduction in CO2 from an average 1990 baseline for an 80m2 semi-detached house of 97 kg CO2/m2.yr were therefore set as:

  • CO2 Target : 17 kg/m2.yr
  • Primary Energy Target: 115 kWh/m2.yr
  • Space Heating: No specific target but if the above targets are met, space heating requirements should necessarily be low (i.e. below 40kWh/m2.yr)

Applicants were required to take a 'whole house' approach, i.e. to consider a household's energy needs and carbon dioxide impacts as a whole, and establish a comprehensive package of measures to address them. Through this approach, rather than simply looking for the cheapest individual options, such as loft insulation, all potential improvements to the energy performance of a house are considered and planned at the same time.

The projects typically take a 'fabric first' approach where the building is fully insulated and usually made air-tight.

Building Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

The Technology Strategy Board has commissioned the Energy Saving Trust to carry out data collection of the demonstrator projects to evaluate the building performance over a 24 month period, using a core package of evaluation measures and a standardised methodology for building performance evaluation. All the projects will be assessed on the design, building and operational phases, 'buildability', occupant reaction and physical performance as well as addressing costs.

Data collection used for building performance evaluation will range from manual readings of meters and temperature indicators, through to automatic recording using data loggers. Smart meters, data acquisition systems, thermal imaging tests and airtightness tests will all be required for all the build projects.

Tenant satisfaction and assessment will also be carried out via the Energy Saving Trust and will include:

  • post-occupancy research with tenants including interviews, questionnaires and user video as appropriate;
  • thermal comfort surveys;

Measures for Low Energy Refurbishment

Some of the technologies employed within the 'whole house' solutions include:

  • Passive solar design - for solar heating and to provide daylight to displace need for electric light
  • Roof design for future fit of solar panels
  • Airtightness strategies for airtight windows and walls.
  • External roof and wall insulation
  • Floor insulation
  • Heat recovery ventilation
  • Phase change insulation materials
  • Vacuum glazing
  • Ultra efficient LED lighting


The potential for scale up is significant. The programme for dissemination will include:

  • Photographic records of building works, and building diary;
  • interviews and lessons learned from team members and sub-contractors;
  • thermal comfort surveys;
  • field observations during walk- through visits;
  • environmental audits (what is actually in the home)

Retrofit for the Future - diaries on implementation of 86 housing retrofits

Retrofit for the Future - design data of 86 social housing retrofit designs


Last updated on Monday 03 September 2012 at 16:21

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