Retrofitting energy efficiency into our homes

PAS 2035 is a new British standard that creates a recognisable quality standard for the retrofit and energy efficiency sector for housing (Social Housing Retrofit). Retrofitting energy efficiency involves building improvements into existing housing as opposed to a new build design.

A qualified retrofit assessor visits your house and collects technical details on the property covering the fabric of the building, any energy efficiency measures already installed, ventilation in the house and occupancy levels.

This information is then used by a qualified retrofit co-ordinator such as EcoAlex to produce a medium-term retrofit plan recommending the best options for improving your house. This report includes an improvement option evaluation sheet showing how these improvements will reduce bills, carbon, and the heat demand in the house and an indication of the time it takes for the money spent to be recouped in savings on your bills. The report also looks at the ventilation in your home. They can make recommendations for works that need to be done and carry out a risk assessment. This then forms the plan that you will need to action to improve your home’s energy efficiency. 

The plan for your home will focus on improving the fabric first to minimise energy demand. Once the house is as efficient as possible within reasonable constraints you can then look at how you generate energy to heat and power the house, typically introducing solar panels to generate electricity and heat pumps to reduce carbon emissions.

How retrofitting energy efficiency works in practice

For example, a client in Hertfordshire wanted to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. They have been insulating the house on a room by room basis over the last ten years using wood fibre internal wall insulation to preserve the moisture balance in this period house. Alongside this, they have added insulation to the loft and to the flat roofs around the house. As the insulation improved the house required less heat and has now reached the point where it can be heated with an Air Source Heat Pump running at a lower temperature than a traditional boiler. They have recently installed an air source heat pump that is estimated will save over 3 tonnes of carbon every year.

In another project, Alex has been working with a number of householders in very stylish but terribly insulated twentieth-century houses in South London. They have been insulating the lofts, including blowing cellulose fibre into an inaccessible loft at the back, and insulating the roof and internal walls, all whilst retaining the stylish interiors. So far, they have added two green roofs to the front of the properties, and they are about to use Aerogel boards to insulate a small bathroom to retain space in the room.

Retrofitting energy efficiency into housing projects

Alex is one of the most experienced PAS 2035 retrofit co-ordinators in the UK and is TrustMark registered. He has worked as a retrofit co-ordinator on large projects with Retroworks, providing assessments for the Greater London Authority Warmer Homes project, Ecofurb in London, Cosy Homes in Oxfordshire and many individual homes for private clients.

To add to this, Alex also uses his knowledge of biodiversity. He will take into account local wildlife and birds when planning for a retrofit. And, once the fabric of the building is good, he can enhance a building with a green roof. He has built green roofs on diverse buildings like bike sheds, garages and extensions. 

If you are planning to make improvements to your home or you want to be sure that it is as energy efficient as possible, so that you are not contributing to carbon emissions, EcoAlex can help you plan for retrofitting energy efficiency. Alongside Alex, EcoAlex has experienced retrofit assessors to provide technical surveys and they are training co-ordinators in order to offer services to more customers. 

Alex has also developed an online project management tool that gathers all the information for your retrofit in one place, this means clients can access their assessments, plans and designs and specifications for installation all in one place.

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Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.