CIOB and MSPs discuss retrofitting Scotland’s draughty homes

Scotland retrofitting Three people working with tools.
Presiding officer for the Scottish Parliament, Alison Johnstone, took part in retrofitting skills workshops (Image: CIOB)

Construction sector experts met with MSPs last week at Holyrood to discuss the urgent need for coordinated retrofitting plans for Scotland’s draughty homes.

Around 30 people, including Grand Designs TV presenter and architect, Natasha Huq, joined a CIOB retrofit roundtable in Holyrood to find ways to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings across the nation.

Two in every five occupied homes in Scotland do not meet quality standards, with the highest failure rates relating to energy efficiency, according to built environment charity BRE.

The 2019 Scottish Housing Condition Survey showed that 52% of the nation’s homes are not weathertight – a figure that rises to 71% for pre-1919 buildings.

MSPs and industry agreed that the first step to buildings being energy efficient is the need to be weathertight. They also require a coordinated approach to address disrepair to critical elements.

Scotland retrofitting
The CIOB-led roundtable gathered 30 construction industry experts and MSPs to discuss retrofitting plans (Image: CIOB)

Jocelyne Fleming, policy and public affairs officer for CIOB in Scotland, said: “It was encouraging to have cross-party support from MSPs along with representatives from the construction sector at our roundtable to discuss the important role retrofitting will play in cutting energy bills and improving the quality and sustainability of the built environment.

“Action to improve the condition and energy efficiency of Scotland’s existing housing stock is urgently needed. Meeting Scotland’s necessarily ambitious housing and decarbonisation targets will not be possible without collaborative, proactive action from government and industry.”

Addressing the skills gap

Coinciding with the CIOB roundtable, retrofitting skills workshops with schools raised awareness among pupils of the variety of career opportunities available in construction and encouraged young people to join the sector.

Industry figures show 231,000 people in Scotland are currently employed in construction. An additional 3,910 more a year are needed to meet expected demand, including in retrofitting roles.

Natasha Huq, associate at Groves Raines Architects Studios, said: “A coordinated plan on retrofitting, which includes how to recruit, train and retain skilled workers and incentivise works to existing buildings, is vital to make Scotland’s housing stock more energy efficient.

“As an architect, I want to stress to government the importance of detail in any proposals, including education on how retrofitting should be applied to different types and ages of property, as a one size fits all approach won’t be suitable, especially in the case of older buildings.”

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  1. With so many different types of buildings we can’t lose the point that it’s not a one plan fits all model. I’ve seen this go way wrong many times as what is a practical task on one type house/flat can unfortunately be a mistake on others due to structural elements/materials, etc.

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