Joint Huddersfield Civic Society and University of Huddersfield talk on retrofitting

New build and retrofit schemes completed by the Green Building Store

More than 60 HCS members, university staff, students and guests met at Huddersfield University’s Oastler building on the evening of Tuesday, March 7, 2023, to attend this year’s HCS/University lecture titled ‘Retrofitting existing housing – Demystifying Net Zero’.

While discussions around climate change, net zero and housing have often focused on new buildings, the four speakers here addressed how we need manage our existing homes more efficiently in order to impact positively on our wellbeing and help achieve net zero.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Tim Thornton and HCS President, Bernard Ainsworth jointly introduced the session.

Phil Brown, Professor of Housing and Communities at Huddersfield University, introduced the subject, describing the challenges facing the providers of low cost housing and their tenants, both in meeting increasing energy bills and needing to invest in making buildings more efficient.

In a pre-recorded interview by HCS’ Gideon Richards, Ariba Rashid, West Yorkshire Combined Authority ‘s Project Manager for its Better Homes Hub described ongoing work to set local standards and practices for housing retrofit.

Martyn Broadest, Executive Director for Connect Housing, discussed the complications and complexities of retrofit for social landlords. He also described positive aspects arising from the scale of operation of housing providers enabling them to lead the development of local skills, methods and supply chains.

Chris Herring, Co-founder and Director of the Green Building Store, described PassivHaus and also the EnerPHit PassivHaus standard for retrofit and the practicalities of such projects locally. He compared progress in the UK and internationally, calling for the UK government to set standards for the market to operate in.

Several themes ran through the sessions including the upfront costs of retrofit, the need to bring occupiers and tenants on board and risks to delivery, such as a continuing shortage of staff with the requisite skills to deliver retrofit at scale.

Dr Claire McCamley, from the University of Huddersfield’s Business School, then led a panel question and answer session to conclude a successful evening.

Huddersfield Civic Society thanks all those involved in arranging the evening, especially Gideon Richards and Geoff Hughes of the Society plus Dr Claire McCamley and others at Huddersfield University.