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Watts Service Focus Bulletin - Sustainability

Welcome to this special edition of the Watts Bulletin in which we look at some of the current issues around sustainability and climate change. Good progress has been made in devising technical solutions to improve energy efficiency in our buildings - in retrofitting housing for example. But the government’s commitment to achieving long term targets for reducing carbon use in the economy as a whole is being questioned, as legislation and investment continues to lag behind the aspirations of the Climate Change Act.

The challenges are mirrored at corporate level, where the quick wins have been gained, but it is becoming clear that delivery of the next steps towards a sustainable future will require real determination. The need for action is highlighted in one sector of the market, where 'business as usual' has already been turned upside down by the consequences of climate change; the incidence of flooding and its impact on property values and transactions.

Watts Service Focus Bulletin - Sustainability

Retrofitting homes is cost and energy efficient, says report

A report published earlier this year by the Technology Strategy Board looked at the results of the Retrofit for the Future competition, which was coordinated by the board and facilitated the retrofit of more than 100 homes across the UK.

Sustainability Focus Main June-13

The aim of the initiative was to achieve an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions for each property involved in the programme and to promote collaboration between housing providers, designers, contractors and researchers, while at the same time helping to stimulate new business opportunities in the retrofit market.

The Retrofit for the Future report revealed that:

  • Energy consumption and CO2 emissions can be significantly reduced by retrofitting homes   
  • Retrofit can improve occupants’ comfort and satisfaction with their homes
  • Residents in retrofitted properties are better able to achieve comfortable living conditions at a reasonable cost

Detailed data showing the improvements made as a result of the project are available to download at

According to the Technology Strategy Board, one of the most valuable spin-offs resulting from Retrofit for the Future was that retrofitting homes to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions actively encouraged innovation and experimentation.

The full report (which can be downloaded for free at looks at the ways in which the parties involved used innovation to generate improvements and efficiencies and identifies opportunities for further innovation in retrofit.

The Institute for Sustainability has now produced guidance based on the findings of the Retrofit for the Future programme. The series of guides looks in detail at the business opportunities that retrofit offers to those working in, and supplying products and services to, the housing sector. Practical, commercial advice is provided alongside best practice for trades such as builders, plumbers and electricians, as well as to professional advisers including architects and surveyors.

Watts’ Manchester office has proved that retrofitting homes can be used to great effect. The team provided contract administrator, CDM coordinator and party wall surveyor services for the Bowker Street refurbishment project, which saw six derelict Victorian terrace houses reinstated to the highest standard of sustainability. The cutting edge scheme received a BREEAM Special Award for being the first assessment certified under BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment, an energy performance benchmark launched by the British Research Establishment (BRE) last year. It also earned Watts a nomination in the Consultant of the Year category at the recent Housing Excellence Awards.

Philip Chorley, an associate at Watts Manchester, said: “Getting hard to treat Victorian terraced houses to EPC ratings of ‘A’ and ‘B’ has been a challenge to say the least.

“However, we have demonstrated that by effective planning and utilisation of the best sustainable and environmental technologies, techniques and materials, future refurbishments can deliver up to over 80% energy savings for residents.”

For more information, contact Philip Chorley, Associate at Watts Group PLC, on 0161 831 6180.

Do believe retrofitting is the way forward for improved energy efficiency in residential and commercial properties? Get in touch with your views on Watts’ Twitter page or join the Watts Bulletin group on LinkedIn.

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.