Summary: Retrofitting can improve the operational efficiency and emissions profile of existing buildings and infrastructure. However, the approach to funding and implementation will depend on the kind of infrastructure, the owner / user and the location. In some situations, a place-based approach is needed to ensure buy-in, engagement and appropriate delivery of social value, economic and environmental benefits in a sustainable way for individual residents, communities and the various funders. This blog features a guest author - Rufus Grantham, co-founder of Living Places.
Why this is important: Communities are important stakeholders for almost every business. As a sustainability professional, understanding the nuances of engagements such as a place-based approach will be helpful in designing appropriate strategies.
The big theme: The built environment, encompassing residential and commercial buildings, communal areas such as parks, and supporting infrastructure such as energy networks, mobility, and water supply, is an important sustainability theme. It is an integral part of societal existence and a major resource consumption problem (40% of global raw materials) and decarbonisation problem (as much as 40% of energy-related GHG emissions) that needs investor, government, business and consumer attention.
In a previous deep dive blog we discussed how there are a number of ways in which existing structures can be repurposed when they reach the end of their useful operational life. Indeed even while they are operational, their overall efficiency can be improved to improve their sustainability. This can involve retrofitting more modern, low carbon, energy efficient technologies and features or even reusing materials and elements from existing structures that have themselves come to the end of their lives. There are strong financial arguments in terms of longer term value creation. You can read that blog here 👇🏾
The appropriate funding structure for such retrofits is dependent on the type of project. It could be very different for residential, mixed use and large scale non-residential with each having different challenges for individual users and broader community considerations.
For some projects including community-based infrastructure, rather than an individual approach, a 'place-based' approach may be more appropriate.