Low-carbon refits to reduce emissions

More than 180 organisations from across the UK have won a share of £3.5m to devise plans for ‘low-carbon refits’ of existing low-rise social housing.

More than 180 organisations from across the UK, including housing associations, construction companies and local councils, have won contracts to devise plans for ‘low-carbon refits’ of existing low-rise social housing.

The refits form part of the government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The £3.5m Retrofit for the Future competition, run by the Technology Strategy Board, will award contracts for each feasibility project. This will enable the successful companies – 70 per cent of which are small and medium-sized enterprises – to work with suppliers to devise solutions geared towards making significant cuts in the carbon emissions produced by social housing.

The Technology Strategy Board has earmarked up to £16m for Retrofit for the Future projects that will be delivered in two phases, with this initial competition call constituting phase one of the overall project.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: ‘Housing in the UK accounts for 27 per cent of carbon emissions and more than 60 per cent of the houses that we will be living in by 2050 have already been built.

‘To meet the UK’s target of an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, we must dramatically improve the performance of our existing housing stock.

‘The social housing sector includes more than 4.5 million homes and the challenge is to come up with innovative and well-tested solutions so that when these buildings are refurbished, they are done so in a sustainable manner that is sure to make significant cuts in carbon emissions.’

From these initial feasibility studies, up to 100 proposals will be invited into a second phase where the most promising designs are taken through to real builds, culminating in the retrofit and monitoring of up to 100 ‘demonstrator’ houses in early 2010. The initial feasibility contracts will be worth up to £20,000 and subsequent build contracts up to £150,000.