An Edinburgh researcher is mapping out networks of local tradespeople, to identify how to install new energy-efficiency technologies in existing housing at the scale needed to meet climate targets.
Retrofitting houses with emerging energy-saving technologies could support the country to achieve climate targets. But to do this the right infrastructure needs to be in place, including ensuring there are enough tradespeople with the necessary skills.
The project – led by Dr Faye Wade in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science – is researching networks of local tradespeople to identify what support they need to deliver these new technologies.
Traditional vs off-site methods
Most people retrofit energy-saving elements into their homes a little at a time, for example replacing a boiler then adding new windows. This is a good way to use local tradespeople but might not be quick enough to support the country’s drive to meet climate targets.
An alternative is off-site manufacture of a building ‘skin’. Several energy-saving elements – such as more efficient insulation and appliances – could be manufactured off-site, then added in one go to existing buildings, allowing for retrofitting at scale.
This off-site technique is already in use, generally to make new buildings. It may, however, require new and different skills and techniques to use it in retrofitting.
Understanding current supply chain networks is key to scaling up traditional approaches, or delivering off-site methods.
Dr Wade said:
“New off-site methods won't succeed if there’s not enough people to deliver them – we have to understand the people involved in different retrofitting strategies to make it happen.
“The research will help to develop the skills training needed and maximise employment across the sector, to deliver energy retrofitting in our homes that actually contributes to reducing energy consumption, at the speed and scale needed to meet climate targets”
The project will assess how the local approach can be expanded to deliver wide-scale retrofitting and how local networks can be used to deliver off-site retrofitting in local communities.
The project received £200,000 from the Centre for Research Into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), and is one of eight projects funded in its recent Early Career Researcher (ECR) Flexible Fund Call.