People Powered Retrofit

A partnership led by Carbon Co-op and URBED has been successful in securing £186,000 of funding from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to run People Powered Retrofit - a six months R&D project exploring the potential to kick start a householder-led approach to domestic energy efficiency retrofit in the Greater Manchester conurbation.

Building on our track record, we are tackling key barriers home owners face in commissioning works including lack of appropriate contractors and concerns around the quality of projects. The project will help inform a new business model for retrofit delivery with a new, localised approach to creating a market for energy efficiency. Dependent on departmental funding, the R&D project could lead to a further two years of delivery in and around the city region.


Led by Carbon Co-op and URBED, the partnership includes Arc4, Cumbria Action for Sustainability, Quantum Technology Ltd, Fieldwork Labs and ShortWork along with Electricity North West, Ecology Building Society and Greater Manchester Green Growth.



With a track record of innovative refurbishment projects, a range of energy efficiency services and over 160 members actively involved in works, Carbon Co-op and URBED have a history of facilitating retrofit activity in Greater Manchester and beyond.

We are using People Powered Retrofit to test innovative data analysis, GIS and customer profiling techniques to generate ‘Retrofit Personas’ profiles, mapping key clusters of householders around the city region.

We are using ‘people power’ to reach and recruit householders, working with marketing agency Fieldwork to deploy Social Marketing techniques novel to the UK. These include partnerships with trusted, local intermediaries, local training and events and Neighbourhood Champions, using a bottom-up approach to amplify information and establish new 'social norms' around retrofit.

Based on market research, we are testing a streamlined, whole house retrofit service featuring a 'Retrofit Concierge' to simplify the process and working with Ecology Building Society to add finance options. We are also working with Electricity North West, the local distribution network operator, to assess the potential for new new local flexibility market income streams to help cross subsidise retrofit works.

In order to build local supply chain capacity, we are offering a bespoke programme of workplace-based training, advice and mentoring, utilising trusted contractor intermediaries, including GMCA's Green Growth organisation, Contractor Champions and a network of Retrofit Professionals and architects. We will build a householder-focussed approach to quality assurance.

The first six months will pilot our approach in two trial areas and mobilise partnerships and supply chain, with the following two years for full scale delivery should funding be extended.

The wealth of data and learning generated within the first six months will inform new retrofit delivery business models and inform the development of new retrofit policy at a national and city regional scale.


Supporting organisations

In addition to the partnership, the project is supported by a number of organisations including: Greater Manchester Community Renewables, Pennine Community Power, My Green Investment, Green Building Store, Ecological Building Services, Eco Merchant, Oldham Council, Bolton Council, Manchester City Council, Salford Council, South Lakes Council and Calderdale Council.



Recognising the key role of domestic retrofit in reducing carbon emissions, lowering energy bills and improving home comfort and health, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have been reviewing government energy efficiency policy in the 'able to pay' sector.

Having issued a Call for Evidence on Developing a Domestic Retrofit Market in 2017, BEIS have identified a number of barriers to the developing market including a lack of adequately trained supply chain, low trust in the sector from consumers and a reduced awareness the potential for energy efficiency improvements.

It has now funded six, six months long pilots to explore locally-based projects that might overcome these barriers.

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