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Responsible retrofit

Retrofit requires an understanding of the building coupled with an holistic approach. This may sound simple but it isn’t, buildings – especially old buildings – are many layered entities and it’s not only the structure that has to be considered, it’s the behaviour of the building’s occupants. When planning retrofit strategies, heritage, technical and energy issues will all need to be considered – this is where the Responsible Retrofit Guidance Wheel and Knowledge Centre come in.

These online tools work together. The Knowledge Centre is an interactive database acting as a searchable repository of information which will be constantly updated as new research becomes available and further case studies are added. Through the knowledge centre, users can readily access the published reports which underpin the Guidance Wheel

The wheel takes into account the location, context and type of user and depicts more than 50 measures that can be used for retrofitting or refurbishing traditional buildings. For any selected measure, it identifies areas of risk to occupants or building fabric and displays the links to other aspects of the building that need to be considered at the same time. The concerns are colour coded and their summary is displayed under technical, heritage and energy headings.

Importantly, the wheel allows designers and specifiers to better appreciate the interlinking factors. Once the user has completed the investigation, a report can be downloaded which sets out the context and user information together with the measures selected and the concerns raised.

There is still much to learn about retrofitting buildings of all ages but information such as this is a vital starting point, especially when it comes from an authoritative source. Released by the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Guidance Wheel and Knowledge Centre were commissioned by DECC in January 2013. They build on the earlier Responsible Retrofit report commissioned by DECC in January 2012. The Knowledge Centre also builds on earlier work to scope out a framework for such a site that was commissioned by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in late 2012.