New Arup Report Calls for a Localized Approach to Retrofitting UK Cities

By neub9
3 Min Read

Sustainable development consultancy Arup’s latest Cities Intelligence publication, ‘Retrofit at Scale’, delves into the benefits of adopting a neighborhood and place-based approach to retrofit at scale. This approach not only helps achieve net zero targets but also delivers safer, healthier, and more sustainable outcomes for communities.

By September 2023, 393 out of 409 UK local authorities had declared a climate emergency, with 298 having adopted a climate action plan. The increasing vulnerability of homes to overheating and flooding, alongside the significant contribution of buildings and infrastructure to UK greenhouse gas emissions, necessitates urgent action.

There is mounting pressure on local authorities and city planners to enhance the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure while safeguarding homes from the repercussions of climate change, such as overheating and flooding.

Considering the UK’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon goals by 2050, the report showcases how retrofit can enhance thermal comfort, promote health, ensure energy security, reduce carbon emissions, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The publication advocates for:

  • Recognition of retrofit as the primary tool to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. Retrofit transforms homes and neighborhoods to be safer, healthier, and more sustainable, without the need for wasteful demolition and rebuilding.
  • A shift from technical to systemic. Instead of viewing building retrofit purely as a technical issue, a holistic, systemic approach is essential, integrating various disciplines such as finance, data, planning, service design, and public engagement.
  • A neighborhood approach. Emphasizing a broader, neighborhood-focused approach over individual buildings leads to more effective solutions for place-based challenges and facilitates innovation in financing while minimizing disruptions efficiently.
  • People and community-centric processes. Acknowledging the human element is crucial for successful adoption. Engaging end-users in the design and delivery process empowers communities and enhances the overall benefits of retrofit at scale.

Becci Taylor, Director and Arup Retrofit at Scale business leader, UKIMEA, remarked, “With local authorities facing unprecedented pressure, a new perspective on retrofit at scale is imperative to maximize benefits for local communities and drive swift action. At Arup, we understand the myriad advantages that retrofit at scale offers communities when approached with a place-based and citizen-focused strategy. Improving health, social equity, and housing quality while reducing carbon emissions underscores the critical role of retrofit at scale in achieving national net zero targets.”

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