Revisit Surrey Retrofit Summit 2023 - presentations and Q&A

Surrey Retrofit Summit 2023 - revisited blog post

“Surrey is a county full of opportunities,” said Cllr. Marisa Heath, environment member at Surrey County Council, in her opening remarks at our 2023 Surrey Retrofit Summit in a powerful call to action. “As an economic powerhouse, we are well placed to lead on decarbonisation.” 

Cllr. Marisa Heath

Marisa explained why retrofit was one of the Council’s top priorities. “Our buildings currently make up about half of Surrey's carbon emissions,” she said. “Retrofitting will also help our residents reduce their emissions and save money on their energy bills.” 

Luke McCarthy, Green Economy Lead at the Council, also highlighted the commercial opportunities of retrofit in the summit’s closing remarks. “We could create around half a million jobs in the South East by 2050 and there’s around £10 billion in market opportunity in Surrey. It’s a growing market and it has Surrey County Council support to ensure it happens.” 

We learnt about all the different ways that the Council was supporting the retrofit agenda from Strategic Energy Lead Melania Tarquino, Senior Energy Projects Officer Andrew Gaisford and Head of Economy and Growth Daniel Murray. Login to Low Carbon Homes to watch their presentations. 

Surrey Councy Council - host partner


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Our retrofit supply chain is embryonic

Mark Ross The Retrofit AcademyCreating a competent retrofit workforce is critical to scaling up retrofit and our summit focussed on bridging Surrey’s skills gap. “Our retrofit supply chain is embryonic,” said Mark Ross, Strategic Partnerships Manager at the Retrofit Academy, our brand partners for the summit. “Much of the past government funding has been unspent because we lacked the capacity to deliver.” 

Mark outlined some of the approaches the Retrofit Academy was taking to ensure businesses could access the skills they need. “One of those will be to look at the creation of a training hub in the county, where staff, employees and colleagues can come, undertake training and develop skills,” he revealed. 


The Retrofit Academy - Co-host partner Surrey Retrofit Summit 2023

Watch Mark’s presentation to find out more about the training hubs and other resources organisations struggling with retrofit skills can access. 

Patrick Wheeler, Vito EnergyPatrick Wheeler, Director at Vitoenergy, told us about his company’s immersive approach to training retrofitters. “We invite installers to shadow us, or for us to send one of our engineers to go on one of their jobs,” he said. “We assist with their design and specification and we underwrite compliances.” 

We also heard about the brilliant work Vitoenergy is doing in retraining people. “We’re employing people from outside the industry,” Patrick said. “We’ve recruited an ex-sports teacher, an ex-DT teacher and one of our young guys is retraining after completing a computer science degree.” 

Patrick also stressed the importance of installers being trained in low-temperature system design. “If they don’t understand the relationship between heat loss, emitter sizing, pipe sizing and velocity then the chain falls apart,” he explained. Watch Patrick’s presentation for tips on training and reskilling. 

We were delighted to showcase one innovative, low-carbon heating solution which retrofitters of the future should be well versed in, from brand partner Hydro Genie. “The Hydro Genie is a retrofit energy-saving solution for wet heating systems,” said Managing Director Jim Bisset. 

Hydro Genie - partner Surrey Retrofit Summit 2023

“The circulating water is the most inefficient part of a heating system because it contains dissolved oxygen,” he said. “When that water is heated, the dissolved gases form bubbles on the heat exchanger. This slows down the heat transfer. The microbubbles that flow away from the boiler coat the inside of the heating system, creating rust that forms a black sludge that reduces efficiency.” 

A Hydro Genie System removes the dissolved oxygen to stop this happening, Jim explained. “Using applied physics, fluid dynamics and electronics, it cleans, enhances and regulates the heat transfer to the circulating water in a central heating system. This leads to up to 20% more heat being generated across the radiators.” Login to Low Carbon Homes to find out about Hydro Genie’s product range. 

Quality that consumers can recognise and trust

Inspiring consumer confidence through quality retrofit was another key theme of our summit. “There is growing recognition of decarbonisation measures among consumers so a number of businesses are moving into this space,” said Ben Meredith, Consumer Director at TrustMark

Ben Meredith, Trustmark“But there are challenges,” he added. “Consumer confidence is at its lowest point since 1974. Add the fact that measures are high-cost, low-volume, and use unfamiliar technologies, consumers really aren’t sure what they’re getting into.” 

TrustMark is the government-endorsed quality scheme for home improvements. “Our mandate is to drive quality up across the sector,” Ben said. “We deliver an all-encompassing mark of quality that consumers can recognise and trust.” 

TrustMark supports retrofit contractors in four key areas: memberships and registrations, quality assurance, data and technology, and consumer protection. Watch Ben’s presentation to find out more about the benefits of TrustMark membership. 

Ed Andrews, Commercial Director at InstaGroup, talked to us about the work his enterprise is also doing in the retrofit fabric market with SMEs to improve quality. “We are a system designer, so we supply and install a range of insulation products like loft, cavity wall and external wall insulation,” he said. “We provide SMEs with materials and products, allowing them to access some of the best rates.” 

Ed Andrews, InstaGroup“The key thing here is that all the measures are of a very high standard,” Ed stressed. “The products are of a very high quality, and the guarantees and warranties associated are a very important part of it.” We also learnt about the work InstaGroup is doing with Action Surrey and Thames Way Partnership. Login to find out more

Long-term confidence in the market

Getting funding for retrofit is always a challenge for businesses in this space but several presenters signposted us to funding in the public and private sectors. 

“You will have heard from my colleagues about the £32 million we have already secured for social housing and public sector retrofit measures in Surrey,” Luke McCarthy said in his closing remarks. “The £1 billion-a-year figure for ECO4 is also going to provide lots of opportunities.” 

There is also lots of funding in the pipeline, Luke said. “The £6 billion in the next parliament hopefully gives some long-term confidence in the market for retrofit building and developing, particularly given some of the stop-start nature of funding historically.” 

E.ON Energy UK - partner Surrey Retrofit Summit 2023

Brand partner E.ON Energy also shared how it was collaborating with registered social landlords and local authorities on ECO4 obligations, which includes whole house retrofit. “First we sit down with the client, and discuss their fuel poverty and net zero objectives,” said Andy Edwards, National Sales Manager. “Then we identify areas that may benefit from ECO support. We then analyse the data and develop an area-based scheme taking a worst first approach.” 

Andy also shared interesting insights into how the Great British Insulation Scheme will address some of the shortcomings of ECO4. “ECO4 isn’t very gas-friendly. But most of our efforts are focussed on rural communities off gas because that’s where we save the most for customers relative to the starting point of the EPC.” 

Matt Ferretti, Head of Partnerships at the Green Finance Institute, also highlighted green bonds and property-linked finance as retrofit funding solutions.

Other presentations included Mark Gardiner of Raven Renewables/Raven Housing Trust and Alan Mills of Reigate & Banstead Borough Council; and Genevieve Dady, Supply Chain Engagement Officer at the Greater South East Net Zero Hub. 

Login/Create your Low Carbon Homes profile to access all the great sessions from this and all our recent retrofit summits.

Author: Alex King