Empty Homes Week 2022 takes place from Monday February 28th to Sunday March 6th 2022  


By Brighid Carey, AEH Consultancy and Projects Manager

We face combined climate, housing and health emergencies. Urgent action is needed. Retrofitting empty homes can have a real impact at the local level, and some projects are leading the way!

Homebaked CLT: Anfield East, Liverpool

Homebaked Community Land Trust is a growing group of residents, working together to shape the place they live, work and play. They have been delivering change since 2012, brick by brick, loaf by loaf.

Previous regeneration projects had displaced large parts of the local community and left large numbers of boarded-up empty homes. There is a lack of secure rented housing, and high levels of absentee landlords, HMO’s and AirBnbs.  At any one time, 40 – 52% of working age adults are dependent on welfare benefits and 16 -22% of households are in fuel poverty.

With the support of Liverpool City Council, Homebaked CLT plans to renovate and retrofit a row of empty terraced houses, to create eight low carbon homes and additional community amenities. The plans are ambitious and will deliver fully retrofitted affordable homes for local people.

For more information, visit the Homebaked CLT website: here

Welsh School of Architecture – Working with Swansea City Council

Jo Paterson, Research Fellow from the Cardiff University Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) has been working with Swansea City Council to deliver an innovative retrofit project in Craig Cefn Parc. The Retrofit scheme is the first of its kind in Wales and consists of 6 bungalows which have had External Wall Insulation (EWI), new rendering, and new energy efficient windows and doors. Each property has been fitted with renewable technologies including ground source heat pumps, solar panelled integrated roofs, Tesla battery storage and Mechanical Ventilation Heating Recovery (MVHR) units. 

This has transformed the bungalows into some of the most energy efficient homes in Wales substantially improving the warmth and comfort of the bungalows. Energy demand is significantly reduced thus reducing energy bills for the residents. 

Some of the properties retrofitted were empty. According to Dr Patterson, this made the retrofit much easier and more cost-effective, and they provide an excellent comparison for us of how important it could be to retrofit empty homes as they are renovated, making better use of funding and enabling green skills development.

You can find out more on the Swansea City Council website: here

and from Jo Patterson: here

Queens Cross Housing Association – Cedar Court Flats, Glasgow

A housing association this time, retrofitting and renovating a block of flats rather than demolishing and new-building. The retrofitting of Queens Cross Housing Association homes at Cedar Court was commissioned to address fuel poverty – and since completion, energy demand has been slashed by 80 per cent.

All three blocks now have improved low energy lighting, new insulation, modern controllable heating and hot water systems, and triple glazed windows. In addition, new lifts and refuse areas have been installed along with enclosed balconies and increased security systems. The project was designed and managed by Collective Architecture with a brief to make the 314 homes as energy efficient as possible. 

According to the architects retaining and retrofitting existing homes is more sustainable and preferable to rebuilding. They took a ‘fabric first’ approach to ‘radically reduce energy demand and associated carbon emissions. The energy savings, they said, would be locked into the building’s fabric. They also said that by retrofitting rather than demolishing, the whole-life carbon footprint of these buildings is likely to be closer to net zero than most new builds.

The evidence is building that furbishing older structures has become more common and is a cheaper and more efficient alternative to demolition and replacement with new builds.

AEH is calling for Government funding to support local initiatives to retrofit empty homes, develop green skills and build local supply infrastructure. You can lend your support by signing up to our Retrofit Call to Action: here

Thank you for all your hard work and support. Have a great Empty Homes Week 2022!