The United Kingdom has the oldest and leakiest housing stock in Europe, with almost 38% of our homes dating from 1946 or before. One of the biggest challenges we therefore face as a nation is how to improve the energy performance of existing buildings. The answer lies in innovative approaches to retrofit, and with a new and exclusive Whole House Retrofit Zone, Futurebuild 2020 will be the go-to destination for all the latest thinking and opportunities in this field.
The zone is being created in partnership with the Retrofit Academy, a CIC providing training to create qualified Retrofit Coordinators, and Osmosis. From robots that install underfloor insulation, to demand controlled ventilation systems, it will bring to life products, processes, materials and ideas that are changing the face of retrofit, enabling the sector to industrialise and raise standards. Showcasing these solutions in full-scale cross-sections of a house, the zone is expected to host up to 30 exhibitors.
David Pierpoint, managing director of Osmosis Consult and the Retrofit Academy, is curating the zone’s exhibitors, seminars, talks and training taster-sessions. He said: “Retrofit was once a key priority, but it fell down the agenda when previous policies fell flat. But it’s reemerging as a critical issue, and rightly so.
“We’re starting to see a shift in attitudes. Local authorities and housing associations are challenging their supply chains to deliver a reliable product. We are moving away from ‘funding measures’ to addressing the whole property holistically. New BSI guidance is driving substantial change and innovation. To achieve the 2050 Carbon target, we must share knowledge, collaborate and innovate.”
The UK has about 27 million homes that contribute around 40% of UK CO2 emissions. Experts suggest there needs to be rapid improvement in energy efficiency for between one to three million UK homes a year to meet the 2050 zero carbon targets.
As well as providing a look into the latest innovations in retrofit, the zone will also provide training sessions with the Retrofit Academy for those looking to become more proficient with retrofit processes and materials.
Several exhibitors are already signed up as part of the new zone, including Elmhurst Energy, the UK’s largest independent provider of energy assessment training, software and accreditation.
Amo Sihra, Head of Commercial at Elmhurst Energy, said: “We have been heavily involved with the working group for the new industry specification for retrofitting dwellings for improved energy efficiency, known as PAS 2035. We understand that the success of this process is dependent on the quality it delivers by trained and registered retrofit professionals. Elmhurst provides whole house retrofit training and schemes which will not only equip these professionals with the required skills and knowledge, but will also support them in their day-to-day retrofit work. By being a part of The Whole House Retrofit Zone at Futurebuild 2020 we have the opportunity to promote this revolutionary new standard and our training courses to a large quality audience of built environment professionals.”
Also joining the zone is Q-Bot, a business developing intelligent tools using robotics and AI that can inspect, monitor and maintain the health of our buildings.
Mathew Holloway, co-founder and CEO of Q-Bot, said: “Underfloor insulation is usually a forgotten retrofit measure, however, with Q-Bot’s innovative solution the comfort and energy efficiency of a home can be improved significantly. By using a robotic system, insulation can be applied without the disruption and hassle of traditional methods. The result is a warm and cosy home, which is also cheaper to heat. The Whole House Retrofit Zone at Futurebuild 2020 is the perfect platform for us to raise awareness within the housing and energy sectors.”
Additionally, Alsecco, a manufacturer and supplier of systems that can fulfil the architectural and performance demands of new-build and retrofit projects, have signed up to the zone.
Ben Parry, Director of Alsecco, said: “We have always been committed to quality. The ECO-funded retrofit sector hasn’t always given us the right platform to shine because of the well-publicised issues with EWI projects. However, with the new industry specification for retrofitting dwellings, PAS 2035 and the new government commitment to whole-house, fabric-first retrofit, it is definitely now a market that Alsecco wants to support. Exhibiting in the Futurebuild Whole House Retrofit Zone will provide us with access to that market in terms of social landlords, specifiers and contractors.”
The focus on retrofit at Futurebuild 2020 promises to be positive and forward-looking to help housing associations and local authorities feel confident about retrofit, and to provide a platform for them to meet the mobilisers and innovators in the industry who are making the vision of retrofit at scale a reality.
Martin Hurn, managing director of Futurebuild Events, said: “The UK government has a good track record in reducing carbon in other areas – just look at the changes happening in the transport industry. But its housing stock has fallen by the wayside. We’re still building low-quality, poor-performing homes and the efficiency issues with existing housing aren’t being tackled.
“Futurebuild is the catalyst for change that our industry needs and this new zone will provide the ideal opportunity for professionals to start conversations, learn more and find new solutions to address the retrofit challenge.”