Tackling the Local Retrofit Challenge with World-Class Solutions: How to Make Innovation Happen

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


Most of the carbon emitted in Greater Manchester (GM) comes from the energy consumption across three sectors: transport, commercial and domestic. As part of the region’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2038, considerable emissions reductions must be achieved across all three. These are necessary to ensure that the city-region remains within the science-based carbon emissions limits set out by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. The GM preferred decarbonisation pathways are detailed in the 5 Year Environment Plan (5 YEP), which outlines core activities to be undertaken across the region to reduce its carbon footprint.

The following report focuses on the decarbonisation of the local housing stock, which emits 4 MtCO2 to the atmosphere annually. In order to reduce the environmental impact of domestic energy consumption, the 5 YEP outlines the regional ambition of achieving significant energy efficiency improvements across a large portion of the local housing stock. The achievement of meaningful carbon reductions is pre-conditioned on retrofitting 61,000 local houses per year over the next five years. The region’s environmental strategy also specifies the quality and sets the targets for the energy efficiency gains to be achieved, prioritising more comprehensive retrofit works. There are, however, considerable regional and national challenges hindering retrofitting to the required scale and quality.

The key barriers to deployment of deep retrofits are associated with the current policy landscape and its impact on the development of relevant capabilities. First, the government funding aimed at improving the energy efficiency of existing housing stock is limited and focuses on the deployment of cost-effective measures that deliver marginal energy efficiency improvements. Second, the energy efficiency policies are market-driven and rely on private sector to finance deployment and development of relevant innovations. Together, these translate into under-developed supply chains that are ill-positioned to deliver more comprehensive retrofits. At the same time, the available market offerings present lacklustre value for potential customers and are considered risky by potential finance providers.

The aim of this report is to provide a detailed analysis of these challenges and offer policy recommendations to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). The report outlines a potential pathway for coordinating a large-scale retrofit project that would address the identified barriers through a comprehensive policy mix. The report is based on a review of the academic literature, governmental reports, and white papers on the energy efficiency of existing housing stock. In addition, as part of the project, 15 interviews were conducted with Greater Manchester stakeholders from key areas of interest.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyGreater Manchester Combined Authority
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2020


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