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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared a ‘retrofit revolution’ in London, announcing a new package of measures that will make buildings more energy efficient and tackle the climate


Led by the Mayor working with London Councils and social housing providers, the ambitious new plans will boost London’s Green New Deal mission and sustain and create new green jobs in the capital. 

London’s homes and workplaces are responsible for 78 per cent of the capital’s carbon emissions* and virtually all will need some level of retrofitting over this decade. The capital’s social housing urgently needs upgrading to be as energy efficient as possible with improvements including better insulation, low-carbon heat and clean power sources, such as solar energy, to deliver the Mayor’s climate targets and tackle growing fuel poverty. London has the third highest level of fuel poverty in the country, with Barking and Dagenham having the highest of any local authority in England**. 

The Mayor’s new Innovation Partnership will make it easier for social landlords and UK building firms to work together to upgrade ageing homes in the capital. The scheme will link up housing providers and builders through all stages of home retrofitting, from planning through to large-scale delivery. This will dramatically increase the pace of projects that upgrade cold, damp housing stock to homes fit for the future. The partnership has the potential value of £10 billion in retrofit works, which would create around 150,000 jobs over the decade. The Innovation Partnership is open to social housing providers across the UK, with at least £5 billion estimated that could be spent in London. 


The Mayor has also been backed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for London to lead the country by creating a national retrofit centre of excellence to help assist social housing providers gain access to funding for major retrofit projects.


The centre will build on the Mayor’s successful Retrofit Accelerator – Homes which aims to transform the way London retrofits its ageing and energy-inefficient housing to create warm, affordable and ultra-low carbon homes. It will also directly help social housing providers develop plans to improve their chances of being successful through the next round of the £160m Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

This is part of the necessary work to increase the quality and speed of retrofits, enabling social housing landlords to cut carbon emissions and reduce heating costs for thousands of homes and thus tackling the growing issue of fuel poverty. Social housing providers across England will be able to access free support from Summer 2021. 


As a key part of the Mayor’s target of reaching net zero by 2030, he is also seizing the opportunity for more solar energy on London’s rooftops. Sadiq’s energy programmes alone are expected to more than double the amount of clean energy London generates from solar, but more investment is needed to ensure the capital goes much further. 


To lay these foundations, the Mayor is working with Solar Energy UK to invest in the solar workforce. A new programme - Solar Skills London - will focus on skills and training to enable Londoners to learn more about solar technologies and help to create more green jobs. Training and apprenticeships will focus on battery storage, electric vehicle charging and related smart technologies. The programme will also include a placement programme to get trainees into solar businesses and targeted grant schemes to deliver quality training to staff at a 100 solar installation companies in London.  

Today the Mayor visited West Acton Primary School in Ealing where a large solar PV array is being installed. The project, which will supply clean energy to the school, was part funded through the Mayor’s London Community Energy Fund. Around 200 schools have signed up to have solar panels and other energy efficiency work done with support and expertise from City Hall. 


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Creating jobs and tackling the climate emergency are two of my priorities for London and that’s why I am delighted London is leading the way on a retrofit revolution. With the COP26 summit taking place later this year, it’s vital that we show how London is leading the way with our Green New Deal.

“A strong economic recovery from COVID-19 and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive. This transformative approach to retrofit will directly help those living in ageing, energy-inefficient homes, and could play a vital role cutting energy bills and tackling fuel poverty. It will also support Londoners with the skills they need for jobs in the green economy, rebuilding our city post-COVID so that it’s cleaner, greener and fairer.”


Director of Policy and Places at UK Green Building Council, John Alker, said: “Improving the carbon performance of our buildings is critical if we are going to meet our net zero goals, and although an enormous challenge it also presents a tremendous opportunity. The successful delivery of local retrofit programmes can not only improve resident’s quality of life through upgrading the energy efficiency of their homes and tackling the danger of cold and damp homes, but it can also act as a catalyst for creating green jobs and upskilling the supply chain. If we are going to succeed, ambitious local leadership and a genuine partnership approach is essential, and we warmly welcome today’s announcement by the Mayor of London.”


Headteacher at West Acton Primary School, Karen Kondo, said: “As a school we are delighted to be part of a project that generates clean energy from solar panels. For our children to know that the global climate crisis is close to home and that in the middle of a busy city like London, we are helping the environment gives them pride and meaning to play their part. It helps us create not only knowledge but curiosity and passion about the natural environment in our children which can only be a good thing for all our futures.”


Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett said: “We are delighted to launch this project with the Mayor of London. Solar power is clean, cheap and easy to deploy. Solar Skills London will help ensure that London’s workforce has the skills and training to deliver these benefits to the capital, supporting a green economic recovery from the pandemic.” Photo by LucAleria, Wikimedia commons.