GLOBE-Net, June 5, 2012 - World attention has
been drawn to London England this week with media coverage of Queen
Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee and the run up to the London 2012
Olympic Games due to open in less than 60 days.
And while the Olympic organizers have promised to deliver the
most sustainable Olympics ever, the host city of London is also
working to become one of the greenest cities in the
London's Mayor, Boris Johnson has committed the city to targets
that could reduce the capital's CO2 emissions and energy
consumption by 60% by 2025.
A key aspect of the city's CO2 emissions reduction plan is the
Greater London Authority's building retrofitting program, known as
RE:FIT, which could realize a reduction of
100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2015.
The RE:FIT program helps public organizations to equip their
buildings with energy-saving technologies that did not exist when
the buildings were first built, including new building management
systems, combined heat and power, photovoltaic solar panels,
low-energy lighting and new, more energy efficient
A significant part of London's CO2 is emitted from public sector
buildings. Thus there is a need to make those buildings more
efficient. Current estimates are that up to 80% of buildings
currently occupied by councils, health, and education authorities
will still be in use in 2050.
London's RE:FIT program is part of a
global program led by the Clinton Climate Initiative bringing
together the world's leading cities (C40) to tackle climate change.
London is the first of the C40 cities to launch such a
A pilot exercise involved retrofitting 42 buildings used by
Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, and the London Fire
Brigade, and further work is nearing completion on another 44
buildings in some of London's boroughs, universities, hospitals,
and cultural organizations.
Plans are underway to retrofit a further 297 buildings over the
next year, with a target for a total of 600 public buildings to be
given an energy-efficiency makeover as part of the programme by
These will include town halls, libraries, and museums, which in
total could lead to estimated savings of up to £6 million ($US 9
million) on energy bills each year with reductions of 36,000 tonnes
of carbon dioxide emissions - the equivalent of taking around
60,000 vehicles off London's roads.
The potential energy and cost savings of retrofitting are
substantial: for the organizations that took part in the pilot, the
installation of the new technologies helped them identify savings
of over 7,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum, and annual cost savings of
more than £1 million (US$ 1.5 million).
The RE:FIT scheme also involves very low financial risks.
Approved energy service companies, which provide the retrofitting
work, guarantee that the alterations to these buildings will
deliver the agreed reduction in energy over an agreed payback
period. This helps transfer the risk from the public into the
It also gives participants access to specialist skills and
support. Financed via £2.67 million ($US 4.11 million) from
the European Investment Bank's ELENA (European Local Energy
Assistance) fund, a development unit established to oversee the
rapid implementation of the programme - and act as its public
This unit provides a single point of expertise and helps
participating authorities understand how the scheme can be applied
to their assets and provides support during the preparation of
tenders and the procurement of suppliers that will help to save
It oversees all projects being undertaken through RE:FIT and
reports back on their overall impact and successes. This unit also
is responsible for managing the performance of the energy service
The Payoff from Building Retrofits
Research undertaken recently by GLOBE Advisors as part of an
assessment of the employment and investment potential of the clean
economy confirms the importance of building retrofits as an
important vehicle for reducing emissions while at the same
time generating significant positive economic and employment
A West Coast Clean Economy report released in March 2012 notes
that governments at all levels have the potential to stimulate the
industry and create jobs by encouraging retrofits of existing
public and private buildings where appropriate, including personal
dwellings, small businesses, and public institutions such as
schools and hospitals.
Since approximately 98.5% of the building stock in North America
is found in existing buildings, the opportunities for retrofits are
significant. And because the work must be performed locally, the
job benefits stay in the communities where investments in projects
In the institutional and commercial building space, "whole
building" retrofits are presenting some of the greatest benefits in
terms of cutting costs for building owners and managers while
improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas
In many cases, optimizing the performance of buildings presents
a better payback or return on investment (ROI) than other
investment alternatives available in today's uncertain
In addition to energy efficiency savings, additional cost
savings can be realized and revenue streams can be identified
through a "whole building" approach that looks to optimize the
productivity of a building's existing square footage - by bundling
projects, opening up extra leasable floor space from downsizing
technologies such as chillers and HVAC units, and by adding solar
photovoltaic arrays to rooftops as a few examples.
Examples drawn from programs in California, Oregon, Washington
state and the province of British Columbia illustrate how some of
the key barriers to building retrofits are being overcome by
providing one-stop information on and access to rebates, financing,
certified contractors, and energy ratings such as are being
provided under the City of London's RE:FIT program.
Check here for more information on the GLOBE Advisors research
that was published in the West Coast Clean Economy Report.
Some data extracted from an article by David Rees for
the local government network of Guardian Professional appearing