This week, the Queen's speech set out the Government’s proposed policy targets for the 2022-2023 parliamentary session. At a time when the threat of growing energy prices has been dominating headlines, some in the industry expressed surprise at the lack of focus on tackling this through retrofit reforms. One correspondent noted that "in the 140-page official document explaining the Queen's speech, the one, single reference to 'insulate' or 'insulation' came in a promise to jail Insulate Britain protesters".
Retrofit has long been endorsed for sustainability reasons, with improvements enabling buildings to be made more efficient, environmentally-friendly and sustainable in the long term. However, in the face of skyrocketing energy prices, there are now additional benefits to retrofit, in decreasing energy usage for monetary as well as sustainability purposes.
Industry bodies have supported this view, with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors commenting that "substantial retrofitting work across millions of households is essential if we are to have greener, more environmentally sustainable housing that supports our wider net zero commitments".
A promising avenue for advancing retrofitting and focusing industry minds on this issue would be government policy on this point. However, as is clear from the announcement, this is not among the Government's current priorities.
Whilst central reform on retrofit now seems unlikely, raising awareness of the potential solutions open to homeowners and business will be key. Campaigns such as Architects' Journal's RetroFirst will assist with this aim, as will promotion by industry professionals, so that informed decisions can be made by those wanting to address rising energy costs.
"There was a glaring absence of policies on retrofit and reuse of buildings in yesterday’s (11 May) Queen’s Speech"