LETI Launch Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide

A new guide has been published which aims to address the crucial issue of upgrading existing homes to meet net zero carbon targets. The Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide was launched by LETI on 21st October and follows the launch of its Climate Emergency Design Guide for new buildings last year.

Our new Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide sets out what good retrofit looks like for existing homes. It provides examples and case studies of excellence and best practice across the built environment sector. Our recommendations and approach are based on a solid foundation of data and research. This guide is for anyone with a stake in buying, maintaining, repairing and improving housing in the UK. Clara Bagenal George, Associate, Elementa Consulting

It is widely accepted that retrofitting existing buildings is critical for the UK to be zero carbon by 2050. Over one million buildings every year for the next 30 years will need to be retrofitted. The infrastructure industry cannot afford to retrofit them twice.

The Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide iterates the lesser-known fact that existing houses can be brought up to or beyond the standard of new build housing. In addition to making homes much less energy-hungry, a massive increase in the number and quality of retrofit projects will:

  • Insulate against volatile gas prices
  • Reduce impact of security of energy supply
  • Provide healthier and warmer homes
  • Facilitate the move to a green electricity grid
  • Develop a relatively untapped market of retrofitting buildings and improve skills
  • Mitigate embodied energy and carbon from demolishing and rebuilding housing stock

The new free guide sets out how to retrofit the UK’s existing housing stock, to meet national climate change targets. It defines energy use targets for existing homes and provides practical guidance on how to achieve them. It outlines space heating and energy use requirements—targeting a 60-70% reduction in total energy consumption for the average UK home.

Specifications have been made for four primary housing types (mid-terrace, semi-detached, detached, apartment), with pragmatic advice on how those specifications can be met. The targets have been determined through a combination of practical experience and understanding of what measures are realistically achievable alongside UK stock modelling to examine macro-scale issues such as renewable energy provision and grid capacity. The guide also points out the potential risks of poor retrofit and advises on how to deliver efficient, resilient and healthy homes. Good retrofit can bring multiple environmental, social and economic benefits but requires a whole-house approach and a shift from fossil-fuels to electricity for heating and hot water.

The guidance is a work of collaboration between over 100 respected retrofit experts from across the construction industry to provide a consensus on how to retrofit existing domestic buildings so that they meet future needs. LETI is publishing the free guide for architects, builders, contractors, developers, client organisations, building energy professionals, legislators, and individuals.

The new, free-to-access guide is published by LETI with backing from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE). Leading architectural and engineering practices and individuals contributed to the guide including: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Levitt Bernstein, Etude, Elementa Consulting, ECD Architects, KIN, PDP, Cundall, Arup, Atkins, Troup Bywaters + Anders, dRMM, Max Fordham, Perkins and Will, Haworth Tompkins, Woods Bagot, Thornton Tomasetti, BDP, XCO2, David Morley Architects, Verco, Twinn Sustainability Innovation, EcosphericFeilden and MawsonBaily Garner, bere:architectsRetrofit Action, BakerBrown, Prewett Bizley Architects, Cadogan Estates, Corstorphine + Wright Architects.

LETI intends to follow this publication with a second guide for non-domestic buildings.