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Close-up of a builder with tools attached to their belt

PI: Sarah Darby

Department: School of Geography and the Environment

The problem of under-performance in buildings retrofit related to the skills and knowledge gap in low energy construction is widely recognised. It is vital to address this if we are to achieve the policy objective of 80% carbon emissions reduction in the UK's housing stock by 2050. Approximately 28 out of 30m buildings in the UK need to be retrofitted by the end of 2050, an estimated 10,000 deep home retrofits per week, to meet reduction targets. Despite the huge opportunities this may create for the construction industry and the technical potential, technology alone is still insufficient, either in quantity or quality, to meet these goals and there are significant risks of unintended consequences from actions carried out in ignorance or with lack of care. Topouzi (2015) showed that successful retrofit projects paid extraordinary attention to detail involving continuity of oversight from design to installation of low-energy technologies; while Killip (2013) pointed to the importance of knowledgeable workers in effective project management. Current formal training courses for low-energy skills in the UK haven't succeeded in reducing these risks, as financial and administrative costs are too high and the demand for high-quality low-energy projects is still too small to pay back tuition investment costs (Killip's 2014 IAA project). This IAA project will develop a smart phone app as a learning platform and risk management tool to support low-energy skills literacy and to mitigate risk of poor-quality retrofits by increasing users' understanding of technical problems, roles and responsibilities during the retrofit process. The multi-level functionality of the app will allow users from different sectors to select offline the level of information they need to build up their learning and ability. The free-to-download app will be developed on a not-for-profit business model, generating income to keep the content up-to-date and develop the platform.

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