We continue to learn from all that was explored in this first iteration in July 2022, alongside many others across the country, and the What Is → What If primers outlined at that time remain as pertinent for us one year on, as current approaches remain insufficient for the task at hand.
We know retrofit cannot be achieved house by individual house only, nor collectively as a whole nation simply by banding the UK into chunks of 1000s of homes. It can’t be left to the state alone, nor to the market, because a lot of the value created from retrofit is intangible, common value, and mostly spills out, with the costs largely externalities that have not yet been priced into the system. In reality, it requires both civic organising and infrastructure, nested at the level of the street, neighbourhood and the city, alongside new state intervention at the scale of establishing the National Health Service or seeding the Social Housing Movement.
The challenge, therefore, becomes one of demonstrating a new civics, and we began to talk about the new social settlement in the form of a public-civic partnership that is required to move us from investment in houses, to investment in places and the systems they depend on.
The Great British Energy Swindle
Demonstrated by the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme closing due to lack of uptake, the centralised imposed and enforced top-down approach that only looked at insulation and physical, technical transitions to the built environment, shows a real lack of imagination and creativity around the importance of our homes as sites of healing and care, with little vision for drawing upon the many forms of organising that can happen when people are activated; when they have power, agency, connected participation and distributed knowledge.