A retrofit crisis is looming according to research by Ridge and Partners.

The property and construction consultancy has published a report called The Role of Retrofitting our Non-Domestic Buildings in the Race to Net Zero which calls for a change in attitudes and for Government action.

The report, which involved 101 leaders in property and facilities management, found that, although 76 per cent of those asked claimed to be working towards net zero, less than a quarter of public or private sector organisations are seeking to make their non-domestic premises more environmentally sustainable. And just one in 10 are assigning any budget to retrofitting buildings.

A total of  52 per cent believe VAT on refurbishments should be removed, while 49 per cent say business rates discourage retrofit. More than half want financial incentives to encourage retrofitting.

The report suggests attitudes of boards of directors is another problem with 55 per cent of facilities managers saying their boards do not see retrofitting buildings as part of their net zero strategy. 

It revealed only 23 per cent of heads of buildings in the largest companies have been involved in any net zero planning while a further 47 per cent say even when involved, they are too removed from environmental discussions to be able to make a meaningful contribution. 

The report says 86 per cent of organisations underestimate the need to retrofit buildings to make them more energy efficient and many organisations under-estimate how much of the current stock will still be in use by 2050. Ridge says the figure is 70 per cent but a third of those taking part in the study believe the figure to be just over half that.

Matt Richards, partner at Ridge and Partners, said: “Too many organisations appear to assume that come 2050 our existing building stock will have been replaced with more efficient new buildings, but this simply isn’t the case. The bulk of buildings we see around us will still be in use.

“As a result, vast swathes of UK organisations are sleepwalking towards a building crisis. At this rate, when we reach 2050, we’ll have failed to reach the government’s net zero target due to the majority of businesses occupying old, inefficient buildings that haven’t been retrofitted. If this problem is to be avoided, a retrofit revolution needs to take place.”

In addition to Government action the report calls for:

  • Facilities and property heads to be more involved by their boards in decisions.
  • A change in the way building estates’ budgets are set.
  • Work to address what it calls ‘retrofit myths’. The report suggests 45 per cent of those in charge of buildings believe if the grid is carbon neutral, they don’t need to worry about getting their buildings to net zero.
  • Expert support for organisations. 

Mr Richards added: “Our research has shown that most organisations have ambitious net zero plans. Combine these with spiralling energy costs and concerns about energy security and there couldn’t be a better time for the Government and the UK’s public and private sector organisations to revisit retrofitting our non-domestic assets. A retrofit revolution needs to take place – and with the right support it could start now.”

The report can be downloaded here.

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