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Cambridge Plans $1.5 Billion in Energy Retrofits

July 2, 2013 By Paul Nastu

Cambridge UniversityA network of public and private sector organisations plans to carry out $1.52 billion worth of retrofits across Cambridge, bringing down carbon emissions, cutting energy costs and helping to make it the first city to meet the UK Climate Change Act carbon reduction target of 80 percent by 2050. The just launched Cambridge Retrofit Project will enable the city to spearhead the UK’s energy efficiency initiative and reduce building emissions by 30 percent by 2050, backers say.

The project will function partly as a social enterprise and partly as a professional delivery service, and is being run by representatives from organizations and businesses across the city. It has set itself the formidable task of supporting the retrofits of about 20,000 private homes and 20,000 non-residential properties, before the mid-way point of the 21st century. These will include Victorian row houses, modern shopping centers and the medieval college buildings of the city’s 804-year-old Cambridge University.

Making improvements throughout an entire city, especially a city like Cambridge, which has a range of buildings dating back to the Middle Ages, will require a huge community effort that cuts across public and private sectors, according to the university.

The retrofit project team calculates that energy savings from the program will be worth $2.28 billion. The city’s carbon footprint, currently 830,000 tons of CO2 a year, is expected to decrease at a rate of about 1 percent a year, eventually falling to about 500,000 tons of CO2 a year, as a result of the retrofit program.

The planning for the massive project began in 2012, with the aim of stimulating demand for retrofits and providing funding and delivery support. The process involved local planners, building firms, property managers, housing associations, lawyers, engineers, architects, researchers, the central government and English Heritage (a public agency tasked with protecting England’s historic environment).

Energy solutions firm Day One Energy will oversee the practical business of delivering and financing retrofits. Online consultation service Consense will lead the process of mobilizing businesses and residents. Supporting research and monitoring will be undertaken by the University of Cambridge’s Center for Climate Change Mitigation Research and its academic partners.

Overseeing this will be a group of 30 public and private sector partners, chaired by the former leader of Cambridge City Council, Sian Reid. This group will be responsible for monitoring the program management unit’s performance and ensuring that it’s acting in the best interests of the community.

The initial focus will be on the non-residential sector, such as the estates of the city and county councils, property firms, schools, universities and the colleges within the University of Cambridge – organizations considered prime targets for retrofits because of the cost-saving benefits.

In April, a total of 51 UK industrial sectors, including steel, aerospace and farming, agreed to more ambitious energy efficiency improvement targets by 2020 as part of the voluntary Climate Change Agreements program.

The new commitments will deliver an overall 11 percent energy efficiency improvement across all industry sectors by the end of the decade against agreed baselines, according to the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Sector targets will be reviewed in 2016, the government agency said.

Image credit: llee_wu via Flickr


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