Retrofit at scale requires a long-term strategy and behavioural change

NHMF Service Provider Forum membership represents the housing sector’s very best in innovation, best practice and collaboration. Embodying a broad cross section of organisations with differing interests and specialisms, across contractors, supply chain partners, manufacturers, solicitors, consultants and recruiters to name a few, we are speaking to members to find out more.


In this last blog of 2023, we speak to Paul Rogers at CLC Group, who pride themselves on offering housing clients national coverage with a local service. An experienced director and manager in commercial, procurement, operations and technical, Paul is also a Retrofit Coordinator and has expertise across decarbonisation and Net Zero in the domestic, commercial & industrial sectors. Also, a PAS 2030:2019/2023, PAS 2035:2019/2023 & PAS 2038: 2021 specialist, Paul is the ideal person to speak to about all things decarbonisation and retrofit.

Headlines from the current COP28 Climate Change summit are looking pretty bleak, forecasting that the world is in danger of hitting the point of no return due to human-caused climate change. The warnings come as negotiators discuss how best to slash emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas with this year is set to be the hottest on record. Despite this bigger picture backdrop, I firmly believe that all of us can curb climate change as individuals, within our communities and within our businesses.

Feed the machine

Of course, it’s a huge ask, but I’m confident that within housing retrofit, we now have considerable foundations in place. The supply chain is keen to engage. There are high levels of investment, funding and tangible opportunities ready to feed the machine. We have the PAS2035 standards to work to. We’re all trying hard to invest in the future by attracting apprentices and formalised skill mentoring schemes and through social value, ensure that we invest sustainably in the communities in which we’re working, not just raid them and disappear. We’re upskilling operatives for the new types of ‘green’ work; and most importantly, contractors like CLC are working in partnership with our clients and residents to ensure that all and any decarbonisation improvements carried out, are done from a Fabric First approach.

Waiting to satisfy all uncertainties may be too late.

So why is the Net Zero journey stuttering? One of the main hurdles we face is uncertainty. As human beings we often don’t do well with uncertainty, and as businesses being asked to invest substantially in renewable tech / innovation and a green workforce, this uncertainty becomes even more of a problem. With mixed messages from Government, doubt about the accuracy of EPCs, gaps between the quality and sustainability of works that are SHDF funded and self-funded, it’s easy to see why our journey to Net Zero – and it is a journey - can feel a bit stop start. What we need is a full-scale commitment, with clear objectives and a huge rolling public communications campaign. I relate where we are now with retrofit, to the challenges at the start of the journey – another journey – of getting recycling to be the norm from the 1990s onwards. Who would have ever thought then that the majority of UK households would actually spend time sorting through their recycling? But it is the norm now and I believe net zero homes will follow a similar trajectory.

A collective shift in mindsets

The retrofitting of the national housing stock is the most critical climate problem to solve and without ‘joined up thinking’ from Government and industry, we will not beat climate change. Put simply, getting our 28 million homes retrofitted and renovated is the biggest engineering challenge the UK has ever faced. Our homes use 35% of all the energy on the grid and emit 20% of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. More than 80% of existing homes will still be standing and occupied in 2050; building 250,000 new homes per year only adds 1% per year to the stock and reduces domestic emissions by 0.3%, so simply building new zero carbon homes will not get us close to the target.

As a collective, we need policymakers, housing landlords and contractors, to grasp the fact that it’s holistic changes that are vital for sustainable and impactful change to happen. It’s accepted that there is no silver bullet or quick fix, and indeed that would be an unsustainable approach that could stifle innovation which we certainly don’t want.  

We are on the start of a journey which not only requires this joined up approach, but demands a huge psychological mind shift for many people. I would argue it’s our responsibility to try to at least get the direction of travel correct and firmly fixed, to leave a better legacy for the next generation and our planet.

At CLC, we are determined to effect change and are working tirelessly to try to get the right messages in front of the right people through action in partnership.  


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Paul Rogers

Many thanks to NHMF Service Provider Forum member, Paul Rogers MCIPHE RP, TMIET, National Decarbonisation Manager at CLC Group for compiling this Bulletin.

CLC: Winner Unlock Net Zero Award 2023: Green homes upgrade of the year for Exeter City Council, with CLC Contractors as the PAS 2035 Principal Contractor. Find out more

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