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City of London Discuss Mandatory Retrofit-First Approach

The city of London is contemplating the adoption of a “retrofit first” policy as part of its 2040 City Plan. The recently discussed draft document stressed the importance of updating the city’s sustainable requirements and potentially making it mandatory for major development projects to consider various options, including retrofits.

Furthermore, there has been a strong push to incorporate the “retrofit first” approach into the City’s overall strategic policy on design. This approach would highlight the significance of retrofitting existing structures, with an emphasis on preserving embodied carbon and reducing overall carbon emissions throughout the lifespan of buildings.

Shravan Joshi, the chairman of the City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee, expressed his support for this approach by stating, “We are now aiming to firmly establish a retrofit-first approach in our City Plan, which will serve as the strategic foundation for the City’s development up until 2040.”

The year 2040 holds particular importance as a key objective outlined in the draft City Plan. The objective is to transform the city’s square mile into a zero-carbon urban environment by that time.

The decision to consider a retrofit-first strategy has also been driven by regulatory standards, such as the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating requirements. As of April this year, buildings are required to achieve an E rating or higher, with increasing pressure to meet energy standards as they will need to achieve a C rating by 2027 and a B rating by 2030.

It is estimated that 24% or 10,000 commercial buildings have already become ineligible for rent due to not meeting the EPC E requirement, and by 2030, approximately 75% of inner London’s housing stock will require upgrades.

Clearly, the industry will need to develop a strategy to address the growing number of existing buildings that fail to meet industry standards. The retrofit-first approach is expected to play an increasingly significant role in improving London’s existing buildings.

The City of London has already taken initial steps toward reducing carbon emissions from the built environment by introducing a Carbon Options Guidance Planning Advice Note in March.

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