Cambridge's £1bn energy saving upgrade

12 June 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
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A Cambridge University building will be among the earliest recipients of an energy saving upgrade funded by the carbon scheme

A Cambridge University building will be among the earliest recipients of an energy saving upgrade funded by the carbon scheme

Cambridge’s medieval college buildings, Victorian terraces, shopping centres as well as 20,000 private homes will get an energy-saving upgrade as a part of the city’s energy saving programme.

The goal of the Cambridge Retrofit Project is to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2050 and thus contribute to UK’s Climate Change Act that aims at reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by the same time.

The project promotes technologies such as loft and cavity wall insulation, enhanced window glazing, draught-proofing, energy-efficient lighting and improved boilers. The project leaders believe that Cambridge being a unique mix of old and modern buildings is a perfect test bed and a possible model for cities across the country.

"It's a huge challenge, but if we are going to achieve the ambitious carbon reduction targets that the UK has set then we are going to have to learn how to run projects of this scale” said Professor Douglas Crawford-Brown, director of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research.

The project will operate partly as a social enterprise and partly as a professional delivery service and is being run by public sector organisations and businesses. 

Residents, companies and public organisations can sign up for the scheme online and will receive help in fitting out their properties. This could include assistance in negotiating costs and in some cases low-cost loans will be provided to be repaid later out of future energy savings.

"Other attempts at initiatives like this have tended to work on the assumption that if a programme to make large-scale changes like this is created, people will use it,” said Crawford-Brown. “Our view is that you don't start supplying until you've got the demand. Our first objective is to get big estate-holders involved."

The £1bn investment is believed to bring about energy savings worth of £1.5bn and cut the city’s carbon footprint from the current 830,000 tonnes of CO2 a year to about 500,000 tonnes.

One college building, one commercial building, a local authority centre and a University of Cambridge building are among the early upgrade recipients.

"It is wonderful to see that many Cambridge organisations have already signed up to Cambridge Retrofit,” said the project chairman and the city's former council leader Sian Reid. “There is a real opportunity here to create nationwide awareness of how retrofits can work for building owners, occupiers and communities. To do that, we have to make Cambridge a living example of best practice," she added.

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