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Creating efficient retrofitting schemes: Illingworth leads the charge

In the pursuit of achieving net-zero targets and addressing climate change, retrofitting properties to improve energy efficiency has emerged as a critical solution. The recent energy efficiency retrofitting scheme in Illingworth, West Yorkshire, serves as a national exemplar in this regard.

By upgrading approximately 70 properties, the scheme successfully raised Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings from D to at least C, resulting in substantial cost savings for occupants. This article explores the importance of retrofitting properties to meet energy efficiency targets and highlights the significance of community engagement in the context of such schemes.

Advancing Energy Efficiency through Retrofitting

Retrofitting properties involves the strategic installation of energy-saving technologies and insulation systems to improve the overall energy performance and reduce carbon emissions. The Illingworth project, supported by Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd and Together Housing, showcases the positive impact of retrofit investments. By utilising innovative solutions such as PermaRock external wall insulation systems and loft insulation, the scheme achieved substantial energy savings for homeowners, with estimated annual savings of up to £169 per household. This not only reduces energy bills but also contributes to the broader goal of decarbonising the housing sector.

Meeting Net Zero Targets

The retrofitting scheme in Illingworth showcases the crucial role of targeted investments in achieving net-zero targets. With approximately 26 million homes requiring decarbonisation in the UK, retrofitting is a key enabler in this transition. The expertise of organisations like Sustainable Building Services, in collaboration with conscientious housing providers like Together Housing, allows for the enhancement of living conditions for thousands of people annually. By replicating successful retrofitting projects and expanding their implementation, we can make substantial progress toward a low-carbon future.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

Beyond the immediate benefits to homeowners, retrofitting properties offers broader economic and environmental advantages. By reducing energy consumption, retrofitting helps alleviate the strain on the national energy grid, promoting energy security and stability. Moreover, decreased reliance on fossil fuels contributes to lower greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Illingworth project demonstrates that energy-efficient homes not only reduce costs for residents but also prepare them for the integration of renewable technologies in the future. This creates a pathway towards sustainable and resilient communities.

It’s great to see this first wave now complete and residents benefitting from the work that has been undertaken. Low-carbon homes mean a lower cost to our residents, which is extremely important in the current world we live in. What’s more, we’ve been able to prepare these homes for more renewable technology when the time is right. 

And we’re delighted to be able to continue this work into the second wave of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, doing the same as we’ve done in Illingworth to a further 154 properties and making improvements to more than 2,000 other homes in the area.

- Patrick Berry, director of Together Net Zero

Find out more about the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund here.

The Importance of Community Engagement

An essential component of successful retrofitting schemes is community engagement. In some projects, up to 40% of tenants have simply refused works when offered retrofit solutions .* Whether because of a misunderstanding around the projects, or annoyance at a lack of communication before work has begun, finding a way to take tenants along the retrofit journey is extremely important. It’s even been highlighted in the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury, that communicating with tenants throughout the entire project (and afterwards) is key to success.

While there are a number of ways to craft a strong communication strategy between Housing Associations and tenants, using a blended on and offline engagement strategy is one of the best ways to achieve this. By involving residents from the inception of the project and ensuring clear communication, the scheme built trust and empowered the community. The positive feedback from residents and their improved living conditions validate the effectiveness of community engagement in retrofitting initiatives.

The Illingworth energy efficiency retrofitting scheme stands as a national model for achieving tangible improvements in property energy performance. By upgrading properties from EPC ratings of D to at least C, the project not only saves homeowners money but also contributes to the UK's net-zero ambitions. Retrofitting properties offers substantial economic and environmental benefits, and community engagement plays a vital role in ensuring the success and sustainability of such initiatives. By replicating this approach and extending retrofitting efforts to a wider scale, we can create a brighter, more energy-efficient future for communities across the UK. Through collaborative efforts, we can make significant strides toward achieving a greener and more sustainable society.

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Charlotte Cooper

Charlotte Cooper

Content Writer at Commonplace