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Posts Tagged ‘retrofitting’

Energy co-ops retrofit to lower bills and emissions

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on May 2nd, 2013

Source: The Guardian

Photo from the Carbon Co-op

From the article “Energy co-ops are cutting household bills alongside carbon emissions” by Simon Birch

For customers, trust is key when it comes to getting advice on improving energy efficiency – and co-operatives have the edge.

Ruth Rosselson is an environmental pioneer. The freelance writer and community trainer is one of the first homeowners to sign up with the Manchester-based Carbon Co-op for a programme of energy-efficiency improvements that will transform her cold and draughty house into a warm and toasty low-energy home. “The main motivation for making my house more energy-efficient is that currently it’s so cold and damp,” says Rosselson, 42, speaking from her Manchester semi that she shares with her partner, Justin. “We also care deeply about the global environment and so we wanted to improve the carbon efficiency of the house.”

Carbon Co-op, which launched in 2011, is one of a new generation of co-ops that are now aiming to address the critical issue of climate change by making houses more energy-efficient, which in turn will slash carbon emissions and in the long-run save homeowners money. “The UK has a legally binding target for cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 from a 1990 baseline,” says Carbon Co-op’s Jonathan Atkinson. “At the same time, escalating fuel bills are leading to more and more people experiencing fuel poverty. Consequently we’re aiming high and offering packages of retrofit improvements to householders that will cut both energy bills and carbon emissions.” […]

“We take the whole house approach to retrofitting and recommend a package of complementary measures such as wall and loft insulation that will improve the energy performance of a house,” says Atkinson. “And because we have a strong ethical strand to our work, we aim to source materials from local businesses such as highly energy-efficient windows from the Green Building Store in West Yorkshire.”

So what’s the key benefit of operating as a co-op in this sector? “The big issue in the retrofitting industry is that of trust,” replies Atkinson. “The big energy companies dominate the energy-efficiency market because they are forced to by Ofgem, the energy regulator. However, very few people trust the big energy companies any more because of the recent mis-selling scandals.” He says people are increasingly suspicious of energy companies trying to sell them big-scale changes, thinking that all the companies want is for their bills to increase. “As a co-op, we’re community orientated and householder-owned with no external shareholders,” says Atkinson. […]

The Birmingham-based Energy Saving Co-op, which like Carbon Co-op launched in 2011, has similar ambitions to be a national player in the energy-efficiency retrofit market. “We’ve already retrofitted 50 homes with a target of completing 600 homes by the end of the year, two thousand homes in 2014 and a plan to eventually operate nationally,” says the chief executive and co-founder Ewan Jones, who aims to fund this expansion programme through its current share offer.

Financing the retrofit ambitions of both Carbon Co-op and the Energy Saving Co-op is a major challenge though both co-ops and the wider co-op movement are set to benefit from the green deal, the government’s flagship programme to make millions of homes more energy-efficient, which was launched this year. Essentially a type of personal loan where you pay for the work over time through your energy bill, the green deal is set to kickstart the energy-efficiency market – and co-ops and social enterprises are lining up to take a slice of the action. The Energy Saving Co-op, for example, is now working with a number of co-ops which will act as green deal energy assessors including Energywise, a new Birmingham co-op and the Jericho Foundation, a social enterprise which will install the energy saving kit. […]

>>> Read the full article on The Guardian website.
>>> Find out more about Carbon Co-op and  the Energy Saving Co-op on their websites

ReFit West: Retrofitting Existing Homes Update

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 21st, 2011

Source: Forum for the Future

Image from the Refit West Update

Forum for the Future has published a new guide on retrofitting owner-occupied homes, intended to inform the development of a nationally viable scheme. Refit West: Update from the front line – real homeowner retrofit journeys and barriers the Green Deal must overcome gives policy makers, key energy sector players, and domestic carbon reduction professionals, valuable results from a live pilot retrofitting scheme.

The report provides a number of key insights into the homeowner experience and outlines the information required at each stage of the retrofitting journey. Based on the lessons learnt from a Bristol-based pilot project, we have been working with actual homeowners as they carried out energy efficiency works to their homes. It presents a number of recommendations that will need to be in place to ensure successful take up of the Green Deal.

We believe that the key to developing a nationally viable retrofitting scheme lies in empowering and supporting individuals as they make decisions and commission works to their homes. A flexible and people-centred approach, delivering a positive experience for early adopters and recognising and valuing the work carried out, is essential for any larger retrofitting programme to succeed.

Scaling up any retrofitting scheme will need to take account of three key elements: providing appropriate financial incentives to refit houses; creating demand from homeowners; and ensuring there is a workforce with the skills to carry it out.

Download the report ‘Update from the front line: real homeowner retrofit journeys and barrier to Green Deal must overcome’ or visit the Refit West Project site.

Retrofitting Apartments with Smart Meters

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 2nd, 2010

Source: EcoVoice

From “Brisbane residential high-rise leads the way with advanced smart metering system“:

Brisbane ‘cleantech’ company, networkGreen, has signed a 10 year contract with Felix Apartments to retrofit the latest in embedded smart meter technology and manage the on-supply of electricity, hot water, and gas.  Daniel Filmer, Managing Director of networkGreen, said that this was a significant milestone in the evolution of sustainable living by bringing meaningful electricity, water, gas consumption data to the individual user.

“High-rise buildings are one of the largest contributors to carbon pollution, we wanted to allow residents to see what they were using in real-time, so they had the opportunity to reduce waste and create a more sustainable way of living .” he said.  Felix Apartments comprises of 253 residential apartments over 39 levels and will undergo a retrofit program to install the embedded smart-meter technology, which will allow each occupant individual access to their electricity, water and gas consumption by logging into their secure web portal for their apartment.

networkGreen smart meter systems use the latest technology to capture accurate electricity, water and gas usage information and display this information to the end user through a secure and easy to use online web portal and iPhone application.

Read the full article on Eco-Voice.

Retro-Fitting Suburbia: TED Talk

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 16th, 2010

Source: TED

Images above: Suburban retrofits contribute to sustainability in a variety of ways, most of which are manifest at Belmar in Lakewood, CO. It replaces an auto-dependent, private mall with an urban, walkable, and bus-served mix of uses and public spaces. It provides a range of housing types, diverse architectural styles, and variety of cultural activities, including but not limited to shopping, with the intention that it function as a downtown. It also uses green bonds to finance rooftop photovoltaics and a small wind farm.

Ellen Dunham-Jones fires the starting shot for the next 50 years’ big sustainable design project: Retrofitting Suburbia – dying malls rehabilitated, dead “big box” stores re-inhabited, parking lots transformed into thriving wetlands.  Ellen Dunham-Jones teaches architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is an award-winning architect and a board member of the Congress for the New Urbanism. She shows how design of where we live impacts some of the most pressing issues of our times — reducing our ecological footprint and energy consumption while improving our health and communities and providing living options for all ages.

Dunham-Jones is widely recognized as a leader in finding solutions for aging suburbs. She is the co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs. She and co-author June Williamson share more than 50 case studies across North America of “underperforming asphalt properties” that have been redesigned and redeveloped into walkable, sustainable vital centers of community—libraries, city halls, town centers, schools and more.

Watch the TED talk.

Low2No: Suburban ReDesign

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 2nd, 2010

Via Worldchanging

Low2No: A Sustainable Development Design Competition:

The built environment is now the largest negative factor in the stability of ecosystems and the climate. As populations become increasingly urbanized, the evolution of cities will largely shape the outcome of our long dependence on natural resources. Two pathways of evolution are evident: an urban society that is in balance with the environment, or one that has depleted available natural capital. The decisions that will direct this evolution are being made now. It is clear that no single organization, profession or nation can achieve the goals of sustainable global development. It will require an architecture of solutions including low/no carbon buildings; sustainable economic systems; enhanced mobility; sustainable planning and energy policies; resilient social systems (access, equity and capacity), among countless others.

Recognizing the need and opportunity to improve sustainable building practices, Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, in collaboration with the City of Helsinki, launched a sustainable development design competition. The goal was to attract and identify the best team to design a large building complex on a reclaimed harbour (Jätkäsaari) at the western edge of Helsinki’s central business district. The competition sought approaches for four central objectives applied at the scale of a city block:

1. low- and one day no- carbon emissions
2. energy efficiency
3. high architectural, spatial and social value
4. sustainable materials and methods

With the selection of a team comprised of Arup, Sauerbruch Hutton, Experientia and Galley Eco Capital, the competition is moving from ideas to implementation. This next phase includes not only design development of the architectural and strategic solution, but also many activities targeted at raising the level of awareness and sophistication of Finland’s national sustainability discussion. Work on the development has begun, with completion scheduled for the end of 2012.

Read more about Low2No.

Energy Efficient Facelifts for Buildings

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 9th, 2010

Source: Worldchanging

© Aidlin Darling Architects: 355 Eleventh

From “ZEROPrize Winners Showcase Re-Skinning as Energy Efficient Facelifts for Buildings” by Carissa Bluestone:

Re-skinning, essentially putting an entirely new facade on a building, can save an older structure when standard retrofits like installing insulation fail to make it more energy-efficient.  There’s no one approach to re-skinning. The winners of the ZEROPrize, a re-skinning award from ZeroFootprint (in conjunction with UNHabitat and others), worked on a variety of structures from a typical single-family house in Toronto to a large bank headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The former, a 60-year-old bungalow called the Now House, achieved an energy savings of 70% after it was given a new envelope with high-quality insulation and a new roof with integrated solar panels, among other improvements.

The most beautiful project in the winners circle was 355 Eleventh, a small industrial building in San Francisco. Aidlin Darling Architects replaced the original steel cladding with a new skin of perforated, corrugated metal laid over new walls that included operable windows (something the original building lacked). The result is a striking, modern building full of light and natural ventilation that still retains its historic character. The retrofit reduced energy consumption enough to earn the building a LEED Gold designation.

Read the full article by Carissa Bluestone.

Regenerating Existing Development: Living City Block

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 18th, 2010

© Living City Block

“By the summer of 2012, Living City Block Lo Do Denver will have reduced its aggregate energy use by 50%. By the summer of 2014, LCB will become a Net Zero energy bloc, and by 2016 it will be creating more resources than it consumes. But concurrently, LCB will be working to develop a thriving urban community, one in which people of all ages and types choose to live, work and play.”

By the year 2050, eighty percent of the world’s population will live in cities. In addition, the Urban Land Institute predicts that eighty percent of current building stock will still be in use in the year 2050. As America and the world work to build a new, sustainable foundation for the 21st century, we need new models of what our urban spaces and places can become. Living City Block will be just such a model.

Starting with a block and a half of Denver’s historic Lower Downtown (LoDo) district, Living City Block will create a demonstration of a regenerative urban center. LCB will draw on selected partners from around Denver, the U.S. and the world to develop and implement a working model of how one block within an existing city can be transformed into a paradigm for the new urban landscape.

This pilot project is taking the area of 15th to 16th, Wynkoop to Wazee and east across Wazee and transforming it into a sustainable community. First, Living City Block will work to significantly reduce the energy consumption and environmental impact on these blocks. By the summer of 2012, Living City Block Lo Do Denver will have reduced its aggregate energy use by 50%. By the summer of 2014, LCB will become a Net Zero energy bloc, and by 2016 it will be creating more resources than it consumes. But concurrently, LCB will be working to develop a thriving urban community, one in which people of all ages and types choose to live, work and play. Right retail will evolve, better and more sustainable jobs will be created and kept, and the block will take its place as a part of the economic engine that drives the city and the region.

The LoDo project is a model that will be replicated across the Western Hemisphere though our Sister Cites and Sister Neighborhood programs. The LCB Team is pursuing relationships with other neighborhoods within Denver, other cities within the US and the Western Hemisphere to establish their own Living City Blocks. The LCB Team will begin by creating “virtual” city blocks with these partners that will over time become their own actual Living City Blocks. The lessons learned and the methodologies created through our initial LoDo Denver LCB will become the model for developing many other LCB’s, and for doing so at scale and in the near future.

Read more on Living City Block.


1970s 2-bedroom flat: Medium-density retrofit

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on March 23rd, 2010

Source: Ecovation via The Ecologist

From “Eco-renovation of a 1970’s 2-bed flat“:

“Our 1970’s flat in North Oxford had had very little work done to it since it had been built. We bought it a year ago and have undertaken an eco-renovation, learning as we went along. This was made slightly more challenging by living in it while all the work was done but at least we knew what was going on!  Our intention was to create a light, low energy, low-water usage, low-carbon, healthy living space for ourselves. Where it has not been possible to reuse, we have tried to use products that are natural, have low embodied energy, use minimal energy, are from an ethical source and that have minimal toxicity. We are hoping to demonstrate to our neighbours and others that one does not need a huge house in the country and pots of money to “go green”.”

The rest of this excellent article goes into detail about problems, solutions, materials, products and suppliers.  The decisions and compromises that the occupants made are carefully outlined.  This article is a rare insight into retro-fitting (or “eco-renovating”) a flat rather than a house.  -KA

The Skyscraper Museum – New Verizons – July 22

Posted in Events, Models by skyscrapermuseum on July 21st, 2008

As part of its Spring-Summer 2008 series, Re: NY Recycle | Retrofit | Reinvent the City,

The Skyscraper Museum presents:

New Verizons
Date:July 22, 2008
Time: 6:30 PM

NYPL Donnell Library Auditorium,
20 West 53rd St. between 5th & 6th

“New Verizons” looks at the high-value real estate portfolio of buildings erected for 20th-century telephone technology and how developers, architects, and engineers are retrofitting and re-positioning these properties.

Project teams present two case studies:

  • Rick Cook, Partner, Cook + Fox Architects LLP
  • Douglas Winshall, Executive Vice President, Taconic Investment Partners


  • Dan Shannon, Partner, Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects
  • Douglas Mass, President, Cosentini Associates
  • Frank Frankini, Senior Vice President, Equity Office Properties


  • FREE Museum & Corporate Members
  • $5 Students & Seniors
  • $10 Adults

Individual Membership Form

Payment may be made in cash at the door. 1.0 CEUs available. Please contact programs[AT] or call 212-945-6324 with any questions.


Re: NY