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‘City‐wide or City‐blind’? An analysis of retrofit practices in the UK commercial property sector

Dixon, T. ORCID: (2017) ‘City‐wide or City‐blind’? An analysis of retrofit practices in the UK commercial property sector. In: Eames, M., Dixon, T. ORCID:, Hunt, M. and Lannon, S. (eds.) Retrofitting Cities for Tomorrow's World. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 69-87. ISBN 9781119007210

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/9781119007241.ch3


Commercial property produces about 10% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 7% of UK energy. It is estimated that UK business is overlooking a potential cost‐saving of £1.6b through under‐investment in energy efficiency, with the UK's commercial retrofit market potential estimated at £9.7b (or US$16b). Using the multi‐level perspective (MLP) as a conceptual lens this chapter examines the nature and characteristics of the commercial property retrofit regime in the UK. Based on 37 face‐to‐face interviews conducted during 2012–2013 (as part of the EPSRC Retrofit 2050 programme) the chapter examines the trends in commercial property retrofitting at a ‘regime’ level to address the following key questions: (i) ‘Who’? by identifying the main stakeholders in the commercial property retrofit regime and its key features; (ii) ‘What’? by defining what is meant by ‘retrofit’ in the regime and examining the key retrofit technologies being used; (iii) ‘Why’? by examining the key drivers and barriers for commercial property retrofit; and (iv) ‘How’? by examining the institutional frameworks, legislation and monitoring/standards behind commercial property retrofit (including financing, assessment methods, and monitoring and verification systems). The chapter suggests that although there is evidence of niche experiments, the regime is hampered by complexity, fragmentation and conservatism. This is not helped by a lack of consensus over the meaning of the term ‘retrofit’. Moreover the commercial property sector does not necessarily take a ‘city‐wide’ view of retrofit projects: in this sense it is ‘city‐blind’ with the focus more likely to be on individual building or property portfolio level. The chapter examines issues of scale, particularly at city level (and also summarises the key challenges to retrofitting at city scale in the regime), and finally sets out insights for the future, including policy and practice implications.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Urban Living group
ID Code:70651

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