The need to dramatically increase the scale and pace of domestic retrofit is well understood, as are the barriers and constraints to doing so. Solutions are, though, in short supply. A recent BEIS international review of domestic retrofit supply chains suggests that this problem is not unique to the UK and that as yet no country has successfully addressed this challenge.
However, another recent BEIS report, an evaluation of BEIS funded retrofit supply chain demonstrators, provides some useful insights into how municipalities and their strategic stakeholders, might foster new, locally rooted, business models capable of engaging with the critical ‘able to pay’ market (or at least some elements of it).
In addition, the accompanying appendix provides copies of the theories of change developed by CAG Consultants for this evaluation. These describe our understanding of the pilot projects. Being developed retrospectively they are imperfect illustrations of the pilot projects, but, in tandem with the main report, they provide useful insight into the key design features of each pilot scheme. This should be useful to those involved in the design of the next generation of retrofit projects currently emerging in cities and combined authorities across the UK.
Time will tell how sustainable the pilots prove to be, but their experience to date provides immediately useful lessons for those looking to develop local retrofit initiatives. The pilots provide examples of how schemes can attract and retain retrofit customers and offer valuable lessons on the realities of dealing with a fragmented and often tentative supply chain.
One key lesson is that the supply chain is not currently well placed to meet a rapid increase in demand, indeed one pilot struggled to meet the demand that their initiative triggered. Planned, organic growth, seems more likely to generate a self -sustaining housing retrofit market than a ‘big bang’ approach.