Carbon Coop - Retrofit 'Go Early'

Working with householders and the Carbon Co-op
Working with householders and the Carbon Co-op

URBED are acting as designers and retrofit consultants on 13 owner-occupied houses across Greater Manchester as part of the region's 'Go Early' low carbon retrofit programme. We are working closely with the Carbon Co-op to deliver this - a mutual organisation made up of individual householders. The work is being paid for through a zero interest loan to householders, funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and money from the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Work will be monitored both by the Carbon Co-op and the University of Salford to see how the houses perform in reality. Several of the householders involved will also be blogging about the process.

Using the knowledge and experience gained from the Whole House Retrofit Assessments and our TSB Retrofit for the Future projects (3 of the top 4 houses in the recent 'Retrofit Revealed' report were designed by URBED), we are aiming to retrofit as many houses as possible to achieve an 80% carbon reduction. This is in line with the 'Greater Manchester Domestic Retrofit Strategy', which URBED helped to develop. The remaining houses will be aiming for a reduced but still stretching performance target.

This work will also help to inform the development of a 'Retrofit Pattern Book' for Greater Manchester, identifying and documenting common details across the housing stock that can then be re-used, helping to speed up and reduce the costs of retrofit works in the future.



Project blog

01.08.2017, 18:01
Case study reports now available

Working with Carbon Co-op, the Community Green Deal project has pioneered a way of supporting homeowners to invest in making their homes warmer and more comfortable – while reducing their energy use by around half, in line with the UK’s climate goals.

Read the summary report here and the full version here.

Authored by construction industry journalist Kate De Selincourt ‘Powering Down Together’, reports on the retrofit of 12 owner-occupied solid-walled homes typical of Manchester’s housing stock. By upgrading the fabric of homes and adding PV panels, cuts of 40-60% or more were made in both energy consumption and emissions and £1,000/year in bills, at a level of capital spending that homeowners were willing and able to invest.

As well as dramatically reduced energy bills, homeowners who participated in the project say:

-        Their homes are warmer, including first thing in the morning.
-        They feel less damp and the air feels fresher.
-        Homes are less draughty.
-        Homes are cooler in summer when it’s hot.

Customer research showed that the project’s success resulted from the combination of a community base with expert technical advice and supervision, along with a modest financial incentive (in this case a zero-interest loan).

By bringing a group of householders and their homes together under one umbrella, important elements such as site crew training and the detailing of insulation installation could be shared, while specifications were individualised to each home in line with the needs of the building and the wishes of the owners.

This combination gave customers the confidence to invest, and enabled them to transform the performance of their homes.

18.02.2016, 10:03
Evaluation in progress

These images give you a feel for some of the completed homes. We are currently in the process of collating and analysing evaluation data, but initial indicators are very positive in terms of performance, quality and occupant satisfaction. 


24.03.2015, 16:18
Retrofit Live 2015

Marianne from URBED and Jonathan from Carbon Co-op will be presenting at Retrofit Live on Thursday 30th April - 'Co-operate or die? Learning the lessons of delivering deep retrofit at scale via a Community Energy intermediary.'

Retrofit Live is organised by CORE (Centre of Refurbishment Excellence) and aimed at experienced retrofit practitioners and professionals in the domestic retrofit sector, or those who want to develop expertise. It aims to showcase the best-in-class in terms of technical best practice, the development of effective delivery models and the latest in research and innovation. 


12.01.2015, 10:37
Feature in Big Issue North

Carbon Co-op and URBED's whole house retrofit project featured in last week's Big Issue in the North. The article highlights some of the householders' experiences and includes an interview with Jonathan Atkinson of Carbon Co-op who sets the wider context and discusses plans for the future.

Amongst other things, the images show external wall insulation and perimeter floor insulation at various stages of installation. 

Installation of perimeter floor insulation

05.09.2014, 10:30
BEHAVE conference

Helen and Jonathan from Carbon Co-op attended the Behave conference in September, hosted at the Said Business School in Oxford. Behave 2014 was the third European conference on behaviour and energy efficiency. This year's theme was 'Paradigm Shift: From Energy Efficiency to Energy Reduction through Social Change.' 


The conference was an opportunity to present some of the initial findings of the Carbon Co-op whole house retrofit project. Presenting in a group focused on community energy programmes, Helen and Jonathan delivered a presentation based on a paper written for the conference: 'Using Carbon Co-op’s 'Community Green Deal' programme as a case study to examine how widely quoted barriers to whole house retrofit can be overcome by a community energy co-operative and what further challenges to wider uptake exist.' 


10.04.2014, 16:35
Internal wall insulation

Insulation is a key component of the retrofits. Many of the households are having a mix of internal and external wall insulation. Internal wall insulation is often used where the external appearance is to be retained (for example, to the front of the property). Although some systems can be fitted over existing plaster wall surfaces, sometimes the wall requires stipping back to the brickwork.

The systems used on the Carbon Co-op households were either vapour permeable glass fibre or wood fibre. 

Timber skirtings and mouldings need to be removed from the wall and wallpaper will be stripped - this does cause some mess and dust in the room being insulated. The image below shows the 'intelligent' vapour control layer applied to the top of the insulation, fixed with air-tightness tape. 


03.02.2014, 16:31
The work has begun!

An important mile stone along the journey has finally arrived, the first home owners are having the retrofit work done. A year since the initial house assessments the improvement works are taking place. The people at Carbon Co-Op are busy blogging the story away which is being kept up to date on a daily bases.


30.12.2013, 20:22
Ready to go...

After an eventful few months - with various complications around ECO, planning approvals, and the sheer complexity of the information required due to the innovative nature of the scheme and the fact we're dealing with 13 very different houses and their occupants - we're almost ready to start on site!

Householders have signed off on their 'schedules of work' and Carbon Coop have appointed a local contractor based in Rochdale, Jackson Jackson and Sons. They will be on site from January 2014, and we'll be providing regular updates here on progress - so come back soon to find out more.




25.03.2013, 15:54

The retrofitting work will be funded part by DECC through zero interest loans and part by the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO).

finance mechanism

25.03.2013, 15:10

Carbon Co-op in collaboration with and the help of several enthousiastic volunteers have created open source monitors for homes. Some of these 'open' monitors along with Salford University's monitors kits are already installed to some of the houses and are measuring:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • CO2
  • Gas


 open monitor