The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched a major new phase of Accelerator Cities, a project which brings together some of the most ambitious local and combined authorities and other expert stakeholders to drive action to upgrade our draughty, energy-hungry housing stock.

With calls for a ‘green recovery’ from the Covid-19 pandemic rocketing up the agenda, the need for investment in the energy efficiency of our homes is becoming ever clearer. The economic cost to the NHS of cold homes, at a time of great pressure, is around £1.4B. In addition, reducing carbon emissions associated with energy used in our homes is one of the biggest challenges facing the nation in terms of making the transition to a net zero carbon economy. To achieve net zero carbon by 2050, we will need to improve almost all of the UK’s 29 million homes, meaning we need to retrofit more than 1.8 homes every minute between now and 2050. Accelerating action on retrofit can also support more than 150,000 skilled and semi-skilled construction jobs to 2030[3].

In short, boosting the rate of home retrofit will provide crucial support for health and wellbeing, accelerate our transition to net zero and create jobs in all parts of the country.

To help achieve this, UKGBC has brought together city and combined authority partners: Birmingham City Council, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Greater London Authority, Leeds City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority. A range of other expert stakeholders are also on board including the Active Building Centre, Bioregional, Energy Saving Trust, Green Alliance, Otley Community Group, Places in Common, RetrofitWorks and UK100. The Accelerator Cities project is primarily funded by EIT-Climate KIC.

The project will support towns and cities to develop their own home retrofit programmes; help co-ordinate action between them – including sharing best practice, lessons learned, evidence and resources; support a co-ordinated approach in respect of links to financial institutions and funding opportunities; encourage greater partnership between industry and NGO groups on home retrofit; and help to co-ordinate cities’ engagement with central government on this topic.

John Alker, Director of Policy & Places at UKGBC said:

“There is a critical need to improve the nation’s health, reduce carbon emissions and create long-lasting economic benefits. Home retrofit is a triple-win that supports all three goals. Although central Government still holds many of the keys to unlocking this, cities and local authorities are stepping up to play a crucial leadership role.

“Accelerator Cities is all about supporting and enabling greater coordination between local government on home retrofit. The project will help city and local authorities as they grapple with issues such as householder engagement, skills and finance – helping to build an evidence base, learn lessons and share common approaches.”

Sue Riddlestone OBE, Bioregional CEO and Co-founder said:

“We know from experience that what people value most about having had an energy efficiency retrofit is simply how much more comfortable they feel in their home - it’s not cold and draughty anymore. This initiative is an opportunity to make substantive improvements to the health and happiness of millions of people across the country, putting more money in their pockets at a time when incomes are particularly stretched.”

About the Accelerator Cities project

In 2019, with support from EIT-Climate KIC, UKGBC led a ‘pathfinder’ project for Accelerator Cities which analysed what support cities need to galvanise greater action on low carbon home retrofit. The Pathfinder established that greater support is needed to co-ordinate the actions of LAs and CAs to maximise efficiency and enable a comprehensive, holistic and collaborative approach at the city level. The new phase of the project, launched today, seeks to provide that support and co-ordination and has seed funding for the remainder of 2020.

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Sue Riddlestone OBE
Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Bioregional

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