Join the Retrofit Revolution to ensure buildings are fit-for-purpose and achieve net zero targets

The UK Retrofit Show will bring professionals together from across the private and public sectors. It’s all about discovering ways to transform existing buildings, hearing ideas and solutions to help achieve carbon targets and how we can make better use of what already exists.

Rather than replacing existing infrastructure with new builds, we should first consider how we can make better use of what already exists.

 “The greenest building is the one that already exists” Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects.

“An architect can add value to retrofitting by making efficient and holistic decisions on any scale of project, while understanding the broader conservation issues” Sir Terry Farrell – British Architect and Urban Designer

The UK Retrofit Show will cover all UK buildings types across the public and private sector - from education, housing and healthcare to offices, retail and historic buildings. It is an excellent opportunity for attendees to source and discover the solutions to help them make the most of their existing buildings.

Get in touch now to find out how to showcase your organisations’ retrofit solutions.

Making Better Use of Existing Building Assets

We’ve entered an era where our first thought should be ‘retrofit first’ and to only build new where absolutely necessary. While this view may be at variance to the way much of the architecture and construction industry thinks, there are compelling reasons to implement this approach.

Today’s ‘throw away’ culture hugely impacts our climate. The demolition and replacement of buildings plays a large part in fuelling this crisis. In the UK more than 50,000 buildings a year are lost through demolition. In addition, the construction industry contributes an estimated 10% of the UK's annual carbon emissions. In fact, almost 2/3 of construction waste contributes to the 200,000 tonnes of material waste produced in the UK each year. Now more than ever do we need to follow a collaborative approach to achieve net zero targets, ensuring buildings are fit-for-purpose and do not result in further carbon emissions.

So, is it possible to achieve zero carbon through retrofitting buildings? The short answer is yes.

Assessing the feasibility of retrofitting as a first option is fundamental to make better use of what already exists. Thorough assessments should be conducted on existing infrastructure while taking into consideration whole life carbon and costs too.

Opportunities and Constraints of Achieving Zero Carbon

While retrofitting offers opportunities, constraints must first be addressed. 50% of the embodied carbon in any building is in its structure and façade. This carbon could be saved immediately by reusing existing stock. Little to no evidence exists to suggest that new builds are more energy efficient than buildings from previous ages. There may be a slight decrease in terms of fossil thermal fuels, however there is a rise in electricity usage. Carbon savings can be achieved by looking into controls: for relatively low investment one can achieve good savings with existing infrastructure.

Rationalisation

A lasting effect of Covid-19 will be the inevitable rationalisation of building stock. The most inefficient buildings erected at certain points in time where poor quality is a problem will likely be dispensed with. The opportunity here is that this leaves the more efficient buildings as contenders for retrofitting.

Funding and How to Collectively Incentivise and Legislate the Process

Refurbishment is popularly viewed as a second (rate) option. It only comes into play when building new is not affordable. A sea-change is needed to this misperception to highlight retrofitting’s climate and social benefits. Fortunately, the Government already supports digital twin technology in construction to help address the climate crisis. However, legislation may also be required to incentivise financially. This may additionally enforce standards in building assessment including condition surveys and carbon assessments.