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Ecobuild: New RE:FIT phase to tackle ‘loss of urgency’ in energy efficiency retrofits

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The new phase of the UK’s RE:FIT retrofit programme is to tackle what its programme delivery unit management has labelled a “loss of urgency” in energy efficiency deployment across the public sector.

RE:FIT was established by the mayor of London to help stimulate a reduction in carbon emissions from public sector buildings. While RE:FIT is traditionally associated with the capital, the programme’s Local Partnerships unit has extended this beyond Greater London’s borders to parties including local councils and national health trusts.

The programme’s delivery unit manager, Turner & Townsend, has recently launched its third iteration of the programme which Richard McWilliams, director at Turner & Townsend, told an audience at this week’s Ecobuild would focus primarily on addressing what he perceived to be a “drop in the sense of urgency” within the public sector.

As the majority of public sector firms have embraced cheaper energy efficiency technologies – so-called ‘low-hanging fruit’ gains such as LED lighting – costlier, more complicated technologies have become the next logical step.

This, McWilliams said, had resulted in a comparative lack of action.

He added that the programme had since been expanded to include a much wider support framework, incorporate more innovative technologies and also acknowledge the growing use of crowdsourced funding to help finance some measures.

The public sector opportunity for energy efficiency, including new financial structures and models, will be discussed extensively at next month’s Clean Energy Summit.

McWilliams also reiterated RE:FIT’s commitment to incorporating on-site renewable electricity generators such as solar PV and wind in spite of cuts to subsidy support frameworks.

He said that while subsidy cuts had “definitely had an effect” on payback periods, public sector authorities had began to roll renewables into much wider efficiency schemes to increase their scale and gain greater support.

“We’re also now beginning to see these parties think about their consumption, perhaps getting their electricity for 3p instead of 10p and thinking of savings that way,” McWilliams added.

Also speaking at the event was Robert McKinnon, national business development lead for RE:FIT, who commented that the new programme would endear itself to the public sector by incorporating many facets, but bringing them all under “one procurement framework”.

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