08 December 2021

Retrofit Rhapsody – are you in time with the music?

Often in life, it’s the pauses that count. The perfectly timed void before the delivery of a killer punchline in a comedy set, or the rest between musical notes in a melody. It’s the space either side, the stark contrast with the delivery of the performance only serving to accentuate and embellish it further.

Conversely, in domestic energy retrofit it’s often the gaps that cause the concern. Whether that’s the physical gaps at the junctions between fabric insulation measures, the worry over the performance gap between modelled energy savings and reality, or the knowledge gaps that inevitably exist in our continued efforts to perfect whole house retrofit, whilst practising it against an emerging backdrop of evolving best practice.

PAS2030 and PAS2035 are without doubt well-meaning scores. They attempt to orchestrate higher quality retrofit by demanding higher grades of qualification, professionally coordinated delivery, designs or compositions that are well rounded and consider the junctions and interactions.

Regardless of your role, whether it be that of an assessor, coordinator, designer or installer in many ways we are all learning to play new instruments or fulfil fundamentally different functions to before. The challenge is to get each player and their instrument working in harmony. The Retrofit Coordinator has to work hard to fulfil the role of conductor but there are inevitably some members of the orchestra who don’t recognise the signals, are off performing well meaning solos, or are stagestruck and unsure when to join in, perhaps nervous of making a mistake in what is after all, a live performance.

For those that can interpret the musical score, it’s clearly a work in progress. Occasionally subject to an unexpected key shift as new guidance is introduced or a crescendo as we approach the end of one funding period and the beginning of another. I’m a realist, we aren’t going to create the perfect harmony any time soon even if we are seeing some progression. The rapid requirement for new orchestra members means some find themselves onstage without having fully practised their scales, others are happily riffing away playing free jazz, whilst the classically trained struggle to find an appropriate point to join the symphony – or worse drift off into smaller quartets to practice their craft in a side room away from what their ears distinguish to be a cacophony.

It’s the Conductors unenviable task to bring this rhapsody together but in many ways he is just the messenger for the composer (or designer). They can’t do it all on their own – after all they don’t even play an instrument – not even a Statutory one! The Coordinator needs to be dynamic to fulfil this role and pick up on any unplanned interludes, directing the players to fill the gaps that aren’t meant to be there, but recognising the critical ones that are. We all want the performance to be legato – smooth and connected, inevitably it is likely to be staccato for a while yet. However, the orchestra need to take the lead from the conductor, otherwise, in the words of the late great Eric Morecambe we could end up ‘playing all of the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order!

Retrofit Coordination it isn’t an easy occupation, it can be complex and it’s difficult to stay ahead of the compliance requirements. That’s why we have developed a range of practical support services to assist Coordinators in their work. We can help you with ventilation upgrades, checking pre-installation processes and designs and help you to ensure compliance against PAS 2030 as well as PAS 2035. Check out our range of services and get in touch if we can help.