Focus has welcomed the news that Nottingham City Council has been awarded £3m funding from the Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund (UK CRF), which will help accelerate the city’s 2028 net zero carbon ambition.

The city council will use the grant to deliver four key projects, including a £384,000 Nottingham Carbon Neutral Housing scheme which Focus has been appointed to advise on. The Cost vs Carbon Retrofit Roadmap seeks to transform the city’s existing housing stock of nearly 153,500 dwellings – 61.4% of which have an energy performance certificate of band D or lower – into carbon neutral homes using advanced retrofit strategies, fabric improvements and integration of solar photovoltaics and air-source heat pumps.

The project will enable the city council and stakeholders to introduce a programme of works in a logical manner with an increased level of engagement and understanding amongst citizens that will ease the way towards carbon neutral housing. It will develop the framework to deliver change at the pace and scale needed to effectively address the UK Government’s 2050 target and need to decarbonise existing homes.

Benefits include:

  • Bridging the current knowledge gap between retrofit theory (what we think we can achieve) and retrofit practice (what is actually feasible).
  • Identifying the most cost-effective retrofit strategies.
  • A unified digital approach to retrofit evaluation to enable the gathering of large scale evidenced insights to support policy, industry and academia in the route to decarbonisation.
  • Engaging the community and the workforce to make the implementation of the retrofit strategies more attractive and feasible.
  • Training opportunities that can lead to new products, services, the creation of jobs, and an opportunity to gain further qualifications.

Partner at Nottingham-based Focus, Keith Butler, was thrilled with the news and what it would mean for retrofit projects across the region.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with Nottingham City Council and to be able to help them achieve their ambitious net zero goals,” said Keith. “Retro-fit rather than demolition is one of the key tools in creating a sustainable built environment and Nottingham City Council is paving the way.

“Our team will advise on all aspects of commercial feasibility and opportunity and will bring to the project our growing database of cost information derived from continued involvement in the successful delivery of housing retrofit projects such as DREeM 2050s, Whole House Retrofit Demonstrator Project, and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator Project, all of which are based in Nottingham.”

Other members of the project team alongside Focus include the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Energy Partnership, and the Active Building Centre Research Programme.

The additional three projects to benefit from the UK CRF grant awarded to Nottingham City Council include the £1.1m East Midlands Chamber scheme to support 280 businesses to recover from the pandemic in key growth sectors, and help 300 young people aged 16 to 24 into employment, converting Kickstart placements into sustainable jobs; the £1.2m Groundwork scheme to fund a wage-subsidy for 100 people, creating jobs and helping employers recruit over-25s who are not eligible for the Kickstart programme; and the £20,000 Volunteer It Yourself to support 150 unemployed and economically inactive disadvantaged 16 – 24-year-olds to gain vocational construction skills whilst renovating valued local buildings/spaces in the city.

Focus is a multi-disciplinary company offering a range of services across different sectors, with offices in Nottingham, Leicester and London. Focus divides its services into three sections – Create, Deliver and Assess – and offers funding, business planning and economic development through the Create division, and quantity surveying, project management and building surveying through the Deliver department. The firm’s Assess team advises on sustainable buildings, building physics, compliance and planning, and on-site testing, and is playing a key role in Nottingham’s bid to become the UK’s first carbon neutral city.

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