London mayor declares a “retrofit revolution” to create ultra-low carbon buildings

London mayor declares a “retrofit revolution” to create ultra-low carbon buildings

Energy programmes aim to create more opportunities for rooftop solar

Energy programmes aim to create more opportunities for rooftop solar

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a package of measures to create ultra-low carbon buildings and tackle the climate emergency.


Working with London Councils and social housing providers, the mayor’s new plans for the so-called “retrofit revolution” aim to boost London’s Green New Deal mission and sustain and create new green jobs in the capital.


As a key part of the mayor’s target of reaching net zero by 2030, Khan also wants to create opportunities for more solar energy using London’s rooftops. Energy programmes put in place expect to more than double the amount of clean energy London generates from solar, but more investment is needed to ensure the capital goes much further.


Carbon emissions


London’s homes and workplaces are responsible for 78 per cent of the capital’s carbon emissions and virtually all will need some level of retrofitting over this decade. The capital’s social housing urgently needs upgrading to be as energy efficient as possible with improvements including better insulation, low-carbon heat and clean power sources, such as solar energy, to deliver the mayor’s climate targets and tackle growing fuel poverty.


London has the third highest level of fuel poverty in the country, with Barking and Dagenham having the highest of any local authority in England.


The mayor’s new Innovation Partnership aims to make it easier for social landlords and UK building firms to work together to upgrade ageing homes in the capital. The scheme will link up housing providers and builders through all stages of home retrofitting, from planning through to large-scale delivery. This will dramatically increase the pace of projects that upgrade cold, damp housing stock to homes fit for the future.


The partnership has the potential value of £10bn in retrofit works, which would create around 150,000 jobs over the decade. The Innovation Partnership is open to social housing providers across the UK, with at least £5bn estimated that could be spent in London.


“Creating jobs and tackling the climate emergency are two of my priorities for London and that’s why I am delighted London is leading the way on a retrofit revolution,” said Khan, who pledged to become the capital’s greenest mayor ever when he was re-elected last month. “With the COP26 summit taking place later this year, it’s vital that we show how London is leading the way with our Green New Deal.


“A strong economic recovery from Covid-19 and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive. This transformative approach to retrofit will directly help those living in ageing, energy-inefficient homes, and could play a vital role cutting energy bills and tackling fuel poverty. It will also support Londoners with the skills they need for jobs in the green economy, rebuilding our city post-Covid so that it’s cleaner, greener and fairer.”

“This transformative approach to retrofit will directly help those living in ageing, energy-inefficient homes”

The mayor has also been backed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for London to lead the country by creating a national retrofit centre of excellence to help assist social housing providers gain access to funding for major retrofit projects.


The centre will build on the mayor’s Retrofit Accelerator – Homes which aims to transform the way London retrofits its ageing and energy-inefficient housing to create warm, affordable and ultra-low carbon homes. It will also directly help social housing providers develop plans to improve their chances of being successful through the next round of the £160m Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

This is part of the necessary work to increase the quality and speed of retrofits, enabling social housing landlords to cut carbon emissions and reduce heating costs for thousands of homes and thus tackling the growing issue of fuel poverty. Social housing providers across England will be able to access free support from Summer 2021.


To lay foundations for more solar on rooftops, the mayor is working with Solar Energy UK to invest in the solar workforce. A new programme – Solar Skills London – will focus on skills and training to enable Londoners to learn more about solar technologies and help to create more green jobs.


Training and apprenticeships will focus on battery storage, electric vehicle charging and related smart technologies. The programme will also include a placement programme to get trainees into solar businesses and targeted grant schemes to deliver quality training to staff at a 100 solar installation companies in London.


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