Why do I do retrofit?
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” – Mark Twain
In this series, we explore with members of the team here at the Retrofit Academy where their passion for retrofit stems, as their passion for helping people is evident in every meeting and every project plan written. as they work towards the vision of a world where every home is warm, healthy and low-carbon. Being passionate about improving someone’s life is even more important when working in the social housing sector.
Here is why Nicola Scorer, our Social Housing and Local Government Manager, does retrofit:
I often refer to retrofit as a bit of a niche market, if you don’t work within it you often don’t know that it exists but it touches so many aspects of people’s lives it is hard to ignore. For me, Retrofit goes beyond just improving building performance it can enhance lives also. I have a desire to help people and through improving people’s homes we have the opportunity to support behaviour change, reduce fuel poverty, improve health and wellbeing, as well as positively impact home and family life. There are often many problems to solve on multiple levels which is a challenge I enjoy but it is the impact to people that I care about most.
I first began my career on a technical path assessing new build properties for Sustainability compliance and quickly realised there was a rather large gap between meeting compliance and meeting expectations of those living in the properties. Where cycle store sheds were used for gardening tools instead of bikes, renewable energy systems installed being switched off to “save money” – it just didn’t add up for me.
Working in Social Housing for the past 10 years has given me insight into the true impact retrofit can have. Not only does it help to meet carbon targets and reduce energy bills it creates warmer homes. The language and acceptance of retrofit is also very different to those working in the industry compared to those benefitting from measures. If we arrive on a persons doorstep armed with a suite of energy efficient measures expecting them to just accept them we have a long way to go. Engagement is the key to retrofit success, not only for completing the installations but for the integrity of the project for years to come. If the person living there does not understand and accept the measures then they risk not being used correctly causing increased energy use, disrepair and negative experiences.
Engaging residents on the benefits and impact of retrofit begins way before the first boots are on site. Giving a clear and consistent message, building trust in advance and empowering the community can unlock fears around the unknowns, create an appetite for energy-efficient measures and ultimately improve project success. We can create warmer homes through retrofit giving families extra space instead of gathering in the only room that is heated, we can support health and well-being particular where conditions are exacerbated due to cold homes and as the ever-volatile energy market continues, retrofit can offer a safety net against future rises.
Why it matters to me is that I want to help bridge that gap between technical and engagement, to enable everyone to understand their role in retrofit.
“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they haven’t experienced”. – David Attenborough
Keep your eyes peeled on our socials for our next blog of the series!