Thursday, 25 February 2010

'Retrofitting', What's all that about?

‘Retrofitting’ is yet another new green term, but what on earth does it mean?

Well, retrofitting is all about improving the environmental efficiency of existing buildings by reducing harmful emissions, combating the effects of climate change and reducing energy bills. As well as this, it aims to bring nature back to big cities.

With the effects of climate change resulting in wetter winters and drier summers, our current buildings are said to be crumbling under the pressure of rain, wind and moisture. Not to mention leaking heat, energy and CO2, our buildings are highly inefficient. As I write, the windows in my London flat have had to be covered in plastic to reduce drafts and energy bills, not much good if I want some fresh air!

So, what does retrofitting involve?

There are various different ways to retrofit your home. Green roofs are one solution, which is planting vegetation and soil over a waterproof membrane on roofs. These green roofs help reduce urban heat, insulate buildings by up to 25% and helps surface water runoff. Green roofs can be seen near Canary Wharf and the West Ham Bus Garage. Keep your eyes peeled for more in London as major, Boris Johnson has backed this project.

Across the pond in New York City, rooftops are being painted white to reflect sunlight, reducing surface temperatures by up to 60° and air conditioning coasts by 20%.

Insulation, as you may already know, is key in reducing heat loss in building. Whether it be blown into cavities of walls, internal, external or under the roof, insulation can save a considerable amount of money, as well as energy. Having you roof insulated alone could save you £150 a year.

Up to £5 million of the London Green Fund has been promised to retrofit 1.8 million London houses by 2015. Not only will London save huge amounts of energy but also create skilled jobs.

Thumbs up!

After moving into my flat in London, I’ve become aware how badly insulated many properties are and completely back the retrofitting of the 1.8 million homes, perhaps they should even aim for more. In order for this to work, I feel that landlords of rented properties need to get on board, as I feel this project may stall without them. Plus, the prospect of having a green space on my roof is thrilling. Roll on summer.