Retrofitting means ‘…providing something with a component or feature not fitted during manufacture or adding something that it did not have when first constructed’ (Ref Retrofit 2050: Critical challenges for urban transitions). It is often used in relation to the installation of new building systems, such as heating systems, but it might also refer to the fabric of a building, for example, retrofitting insulation or double glazing.
Retrofitting has come to prominence in recent years as part of the drive to make buildings more thermally efficient and sustainable. The Climate Change Act, commits the UK government to reducing carbon emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels in 2020 and by 80% in 2050; targets that it will not be possible to achieve without a dramatic improvement in the energy efficiency of the existing building stock.
However, retrofitting involves the careful balancing of different elements and their effects on the overall performance of a building. A change in one part of a building can affect another, and sometimes this is only apparent after irreversible defects have occurred. It is very important therefore that risks are understood and managed in a way that is appropriate to each individual project. Standard solutions should not simply be rolled out without proper consideration, and it is vital that care is taken to ensure high quality installation.
As projects increase in size, the scope for client-side risks such as poor quality, poor supply chain coordination, and project overspend, also increase. A retrofit coordinator can be useful in this regard, taking responsibility for overseeing and managing the retrofitting of a building or series of buildings, typically providing effective management and leadership for large-scale retrofit programmes.
A retrofit coordinator might:
- Provide project management and client assistance from the start to finish with regard to planning, organising and managing the project.
- Provide consultants and contractors with informed advice and support.
- Provide clients with assurance that project risks are being effectively managed and quality is being maintained.
- Identify and provide solutions for possible risks to the retrofit process.
- Undertake post-occupancy evaluation to determine overall success and ensure that lessons are learned for future projects
Professionals from a range of backgrounds can become retrofit coordinators, including; architects, asset managers, building services engineers, building surveyors, construction managers, energy assessors and consultants, site foremen and so on.
The Royal Institute Of British Architects (RIBA) has recognised The Retrofit Academy CIC's eight-day training programme and the Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE) ten-day training programme to upskill existing professionals to become retrofit coordinators.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Climate Change Act.
- Ecobuild 2016 - Making the business case for large scale retrofit investment.
- Energy efficiency retrofit training videos.
- Green building.
- How to deal with retrofit risks.
- National Refurbishment Centre.
- Nearly zero-energy building.
- New energy retrofit concept: ‘renovation trains’ for mass housing.
- PAS 2035.
- Performance gap.
- The Each Home Counts report and traditional buildings.
- Renovation v refurbishment v retrofit.
- Zero carbon homes.
- Zero carbon non-domestic buildings.
 External references
The Construction Industry Council’s (CIC’s) ‘CIC Coronavirus Digest – Issue 8’ surveys the latest government advice with updates from the construction industry.
Organisations with conservation links have been collating resources on COVID-19 impacts, including Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), Historic Environment Forum, The Heritage Alliance (THA), and Historic England, on cleaning surfaces.
Councils are reported to be considering taking up rarely-used executive powers to keep the planning and development system moving during the coronavirus pandemic.
Historic England's 'After a Flood' provides timely advice on how to dry walls properly and avoid further damage to the building fabric.
Context Issue 162 offers a peek into an archive of timber conservation history through the records of the practice of FWB and Mary Charles Chartered Architects.
To meet the government’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050, we must recycle, reuse and responsibly adapt our existing historic buildings, according to this year’s Heritage Counts report, so Historic England and partners are calling for a reduction in VAT rates to incentivise this more sustainable option.
Donald Insall Associates, with the help of Historic England, has completed restoration work of Moseley Road Baths, being converted for use as an arts and culture venue.
Celebrate your local ‘retired members’ and ‘successful learners’ with £500 cash prizes and 2020 Brighton School places!
The Conservation Hierarchy is a new framework developed by the University of Oxford to help construction projects achieve Biodiversity Net Gain.
Jacqueline Hughes, senior risk analyst at Equib, in pbctoday discusses how project managers for town centre developments can get their risk management strategies right.
A new paper from the Adam Smith Institute argues that the problem with the High Street has been totally misunderstood, saying that we need to reform restrictive planning rules and reject a policy of managed decline to reinvigorate our town centres.
The Whole Life Cost of Energy (WLCoE) calculator – issued by government in BETA form – is intended to help building owners and operators to understand the full financial cost of the energy their buildings use, and welcomes feedback.