The Carbon Co-op and URBED - People Powered Retrofit scheme has been highly commended in the 2019 Community Energy & Carbon Saving Award.

Over the past nine months Carbon Co-op, URBED (design and research consultancy) and a partnership of community energy groups have developed and piloted a new community-focussed retrofit service - People Powered Retrofit.

People-powered because they have involved householders at every stage of the process, and as a community energy membership organisation, people are in control of the process right from the beginning.

Their end-to-end, owner occupier householder-focussed service takes a specifically community-scale approach: integrating a local, social marketing approach to recruitment and a small scale, neighbourhood focus to supply chain procurement, training and quality assurance. People Powered Retrofit has a commitment to open source technologies, forming a replicable approach for other community energy groups around the UK.

As part of the project the team developed a new approach to mapping, profiling and identifying householders interested in retrofit using GIS mapping tools and open data sets, created new forms of engagement using innovative community-based influencing methodologies including ‘Home Energy Parties’ and utilised cutting edge Service Design tools to develop collaborative, user centred services.

The People Powered Retrofit service incorporates:

  • Advice
  • A home assessment service using My Home Energy Planner
  • Hand holder and decision making support
  • A procurement and contractor training service; and
  • An on site Quality Assurance framework

These elements of the service are delivered by the multidisciplinary team which includes a service manager, adviser, architects, People Powered Retrofit co-ordinators and assessors.

To support this core group People Powered Retrofit created local retrofit contractor and consultant networks incorporating ‘real world’ on site training and business support to develop the retrofit supply chain in an area.

The service is underpinned by the development of a suite of ICT services including a Carbon Co-op Hub, which enables householders to access and download their half hourly smart meter data.

To date, the project has worked with 150 people who have attended training, participated in workshops and accessed pilot elements of the service. With the full service launching in September 2019, the group aims to work with 200 homes this year.

The project will extend with the delivery of an area-based scheme working in partnership with Manchester City Council. This will deliver whole house retrofit works for 5-10 homes in the next 9-12 months.

BEIS, as part of the Local Retrofit Supply Chain pilot schemes, and the Friends Provident Foundation have supported people Powered Retrofit.

The learning from the first phase of People Powered Retrofit was compiled into a project report launched at the Community Energy England conference 2019 alongside a presentation to others in the sector. The team has also collaborated in knowledge exchanges with other BEIS pilots and community energy groups including CSE, CAfS, SELCE, BEHSCO, Plymouth Energy Community, York Community Energy and many more.

The learning from the project was shared at the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Green Summit and the learning has influenced government strategy and policy with the team running sessions with a number of senior BEIS civil servants. Whilst at an EU level the project has fed into RESCoop’s lobbying activity. The team has event presented their work as part of a UK-France bilateral trade mission. The project is committed to sharing knowledge and saving energy; vital components towards creating communities that can use less carbon, now and in the future.