BESA advocates for increased retrofit projects in 2024

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The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has urged the UK government to prioritise the acceleration of whole building retrofit projects in 2024.

This call to action focuses on enhancing building performance as a comprehensive solution to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy security, and lower consumer bills.

BESA’s perspective on building retrofits

BESA expressed approval of the additional £1.5 billion allocated to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), part of a larger £6 billion initiative to enhance building energy efficiency.

However, BESA suggests that the Future Homes and Buildings Standards, set to be implemented next year, should concentrate more on complete building solutions.

Despite acknowledging hydrogen’s potential in heating buildings, BESA downplays its practicality, citing financial and technical difficulties.

BESA’s technical director, Graeme Fox, warned against considering hydrogen a significant factor in building decarbonisation, emphasising its limited role compared to full building retrofits utilising energy-efficient design and existing low-carbon heating and cooling solutions.

In 2023, there was a notable increase in applications for heat pump installation grants, following the rise in the BUS scheme to £7,500 per installation.

BESA welcomed a new £400 million energy efficiency grant, launching in 2025, intended to aid households in England with broader home improvements, including larger radiators and insulation.

Government initiatives and funding in building retrofitting

An additional £1.545 billion was allocated to the BUS fund for 2025-2028.

BESA suggested that further funding for 2024 could maintain the momentum in the heat pump market, where over 4,000 contractors are now certified to install heat pumps.

The government is also seeking feedback on the Future Homes and Buildings Standards, which could lead to a ban on gas boilers in new homes from 2025.

Graeme Fox commented on the government consultation, noting the potential of new heat pump developments, particularly high-temperature models, in expanding the market.

He emphasised the importance of focusing on holistic building retrofit approaches rather than individual technologies.

Future prospects and industry impact

BESA also highlighted the influence of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting on building energy efficiency in 2024.

The upcoming requirement for newly leased commercial buildings to achieve EPC ratings of C or higher by 2025 (and existing leases by 2028) is expected to drive investment in energy performance improvements.

Fox concluded by emphasising the significance of 2024 in advancing whole building retrofits and encouraged the government to transform the Boiler Upgrade Scheme into a more comprehensive Building Upgrade Scheme.

IFSJ Comment

The Building Engineering Services Association’s advocacy for a focus on whole building retrofits in 2024 is a call to action for the building services industry.

This approach aligns with the broader goals of reducing carbon emissions and improving energy security, which are essential in the current climate of environmental and economic challenges.

The government’s response, through funding and policy changes, will be critical in shaping the industry’s trajectory.

The emphasis on comprehensive building solutions, rather than isolated technologies, marks a shift in the approach to building energy efficiency.

As the industry moves forward, the impact of these changes on contractors, consumers, and the broader market will be a key area to monitor.

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