Sector trends

Accelerating retrofit: a new upskilling opportunity

We’ve partnered with the Supply Chain Sustainability School to launch a free retrofit training programme.

At the launch of the new retrofit learning platform for the construction sector this November, we heard how most aspects of business activity contribute in some way to the economy’s carbon footprint. While attention is often focused on the energy efficiency of new buildings, less attention is paid to making existing properties more energy efficient.

For the construction and property sector this is an increasingly important issue. An estimated 80% of the buildings likely to be in use in 2050, the date England has set as a legally binding target for net zero, are already built. The built environment contributes approximately 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions. 

This is why “retrofitting” – making existing buildings fit for an energy-efficient, more sustainable future – is an important area of focus for the Supply Chain Sustainability School (“the School”).

We’re delighted to support this programme, which consists of education and training for the industry as it tackles the task of getting the UK’s homes and much of the country’s commercial property into shape by 2050.

As the School’s Director Ian Heptonstall explained: “Our mission is to enable a sustainable built environment through knowledge and collaboration, however most of our work to date has focused on new builds. There are an estimated 29 million homes to be addressed in 26 years, plus the rest of the built environment. We must pivot towards the existing building stock, crafting and delivering learning experiences that empower the UK to retrofit its structures with cutting-edge technologies and systems.”

The new programme is free to use and available to all businesses. It utilises the school’s industry-led learning model, allowing participants to assess their retrofit readiness as individuals and measure the capability of their company. 

James Close, our head of climate change, said: “We have a key role to play in supporting consumers and businesses in transitioning to more energy efficient homes and buildings. The UK currently has the coldest and leakiest homes in Europe. We need to retrofit those 29 million homes, not to mention commercial buildings,” he said, adding that consumers across the UK want to live and work in “lower-cost, warmer homes and buildings”.

James shared his insight on some of the potential upsides a nationwide retrofit could bring. “We need the skills and companies to carry out the work at scale and we also want to make it as easy for our customers to retrofit as possible,” he said. “This represents a huge economic opportunity for the country. There’s a £65bn retrofitting opportunity here and a further £30bn in residential heat pumps and £25bn in non-residential heat pumps. Collaboration is key. Together we can make a difference.”

Delivering learning to empower retrofit

The industry finds itself short of talent, with a dearth of surveyors, fitters, engineers, and other skilled roles needed for the retrofit movement to play its part in hitting the 2050 net zero target.

The new Retrofit Programme is one step towards alleviating the lack of skilled operators and could help raise standards across the industry, as well as boost confidence for those considering investing in retrofit.

The School’s programme is supported by a series of webinars, workshops and virtual conferences, with the e-learning programme itself split into six modules:

  • The Business Case for Retrofit
  • Standards for Retrofit
  • Whole Building Approach
  • Data-Led Design
  • Carbon and Retrofit
  • People and Retrofit 


If you’re unsure where to start, take the School’s free retrofit assessment to assess your knowledge and receive a bespoke learning plan.

To find out more and access the full free programme visit our site.

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