Evaluating the Impact of the Leeds Retrofit Accelerator Hub

This project builds on the work to develop a relational approach to accelerate retrofit delivery in the UK that we completed in the UKERC-funded Whole Person Whole Place project. Leeds City Council incorporated our relational approach into their successful bid to launch a ‘Retrofit Accelerator Hub’ in the city. We secured this IAA funding to evaluate how our relational approach is being embedded into this local retrofit project, using insights from this project to make national-level policy recommendations to accelerate retrofit delivery in the UK.

We will also be scoping different approaches to retrofit in Leeds and West Yorkshire more broadly, evaluating how our approach could be of benefit to these emerging initiatives. To do this we will be conducting interviews with professional stakeholders, asking them to reflect on a summary of our relational framework and its potential impact upon their work.

Alongside embedding our relational framework into retrofit initiatives, we will be increasing the visibility of our research group (“Leeds Relational Energy Group”) and participating in knowledge exchange activities. These activities will include launching a website for our research group, running a Masterclass for retrofit practitioners hosted by an external organisation, and hosting a workshop for our project partners and other stakeholders who have expressed interest in our work.

Project aims

Funded by UKERC, from 2021-2023 we led a research team based at Leeds, Strathclyde and Sussex Universities to develop a social relations approach to ‘retrofit’ – the installation of energy efficiency measures in buildings. Households are a big emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for 26% of total UK emissions. In 2021, however, just 150,000 homes underwent energy efficiency upgrades (‘retrofit’) via Government schemes, e.g. ECO. We found these national schemes fail because they assume a rational actor model of human behaviour and so privilege financial incentives, overlooking place-based relational factors shaping household decision-making.  

Using sociological insights and building upon four years of collaboration with external partners in industry and the public sector, we co-designed this IAA project with Leeds City Council and Otley Energy who will pilot a place-based ‘Retrofit Accelerator Hub’ in the city shaped by our relational framework. 

By assessing the Hub’s impact, we will produce outputs advising multiple beneficiaries on using a relational approach to retrofit. The impact pathway is significant, with national government (DESNZ), charities, local authorities, regional and national financial institutions, and place-based retrofit schemes (e.g. National Retrofit Hub) asking for our help in delivering this new approach to UK retrofit with opportunities to shape both policy and practice in the retrofit space.


This project will generate impact by working with practitioners to shift how they design and  communicate retrofit policies to recruit homeowners and improve the process of undertaking energy efficiency work on their home. The knowledge exchange activities will also work to extend our research group’s networks enabling us to better shape future retrofit policies and programmes.

Project website

New website in development.