The publication of the BSI Publicly Available Specification 2035 (PAS) is a crucial step in creating a robust framework for high-quality retrofit in the United Kingdom.

PAS2035 has been sponsored by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and developed by a wide-ranging Steering Group representing much of the retrofit industry and its stakeholders. The Technical Author of the PAS is Dr Peter Rickaby, a long-standing tutor at The Retrofit Academy. 

It is the culmination of four-years of detailed review and planning, a process begun by the Each Home Counts (EHC) Review. The aim of which is to ensure that standards are maintained, and the consumer has a choice of high-quality, safe and trustworthy options. This was necessary because of poor practice and a lack of effective regulation resulting in unsustainable levels of defects and unintended consequences. This resulted in the sector becoming unattractive to investors and fraught with risks for installers, customers and insurers.  

EHC recommended that a new Quality Mark be developed that consumers would come to recognise as the logo that told them they could trust the solution offered to them. The Quality Mark chosen is TrustMark, a government-backed scheme that has a track-record of enforcing high standards.

PAS2035 has been developed as the process that all organisations must follow if they are to operate as a TrustMark-approved scheme. Government officials have said that their intention is to make the adoption of PAS2035 mandatory on all schemes funded by the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) by early 2021 and legislation will be brought forward later this year to make that law.

What do you need to know about PAS2035? 

Before we get into the detail, here are the headlines:

  1. The PAS is designed to promote Whole House Retrofit – the idea that a building operates as a system of inter-connected systems and therefore individual measures should be installed in an appropriate order based upon a Medium Term Retrofit Plan. Think of this as a Service Schedule for a home, rather like you would have for a car. Future funding will be directed at the Whole House approach, rather than the individual measure approach that has been typical of ECO.   
  • The PAS introduces a Risk Management approach to retrofit, with every project triaged according to the level of risk involved in the project. The management of those risks, and ultimately the overseer of the whole process will be a qualified and accredited Retrofit Coordinator. The Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring compliance with PAS2035 – making this a truly integral and professional role.  
  • Additional new roles are introduced which will be mandatory based upon that level of risk. For example, specialist input from a Retrofit Designer – a qualified design professional –  will become far more common. Retrofit Assessors will be expected to carry out far more comprehensive surveys, collecting a wider set of data in order to properly inform the Medium Term Retrofit Plan and Improvement Option Evaluation. Less well understood at present is the role of the Retrofit Evaluator, who will be responsible for testing, monitoring and evaluation.

This all sounds very complicated – right?

PAS2035 certainly represents an enormous leap for the retrofit industry. It’s a change process, and therefore the initial reaction of many ranges from mild confusion to blind panic. But most people relax when they get their heads around it. This video at https://youtu.be/4zk0ChVHpaU will help.

Isn’t this all just more paperwork and extra cost?

In terms of market-maturity, retrofit’s big challenge is that it is stuck in the early adopter phase with a relatively small number of willing customers. That means demand is low, whilst product and technology costs are high. Moreover, the quality of the solution is patchy – meaning attracting new adopters is challenging due to poor word of mouth. Therefore we are stuck in a viscous circle, and PAS2035 is our best means of escaping it.  

A burgeoning market with lots of new entrants will create competition, drive up standards and drive down costs. For that to happen, a robust approach is required around which the market can organise itself.

In terms of costs, there will unquestionably be higher professional fees involved on many projects. But they should be more-than-balanced-out by reduced defects, rework and improved building performance lowering energy costs. Think about the cost of remediating 10% of all external wall insulation projects, as Ofgem reported to be the case in 2013. Think about the opportunity cost to the industry of the retrofit market remaining miniscule for the next decade. For organisations willing to invest time and money in training and service delivery now, significant product and service development can take place with confidence that a longer-term pipeline of projects should lie ahead. 

Is this The Green Deal all over again?    

The problem with The Green Deal was that it reinforced the fundamental problems of retrofit, rather than addressing them as PAS2035 does. Inadequate building assessments and a lack of design and project management capability in the supply chain resulted in inappropriate specification and installation of the wrong measures at the wrong time. That built risk in to the project and consumers and investors made the easy choice to walk away.   

In parallel with the development of PAS2035, BEIS have also been funding projects around the country aimed at understanding the logical retrofit customer – private homeowners with disposable income and aspirations to create a warm, healthy environment in the home. Innovative new entrants to the market are beginning to create an offer that overcomes their primary barriers to purchase. Retrofit Works, for example, are making great strides in Oxfordshire and London. The Carbon Co-op are putting a decidedly Mancunian package together, led by local market research. Most of these projects have already committed to adopt PAS 2035, meaning they will also pioneer the supply side solutions.

What does this mean for Retrofit Coordinators?

The Retrofit Academy CIC has been developing and delivering a Retrofit Coordinator training programme since 2013. There have been over 300 graduates from our course, and many of these people have gone on to apply their learning in practice. However, the publication of the PAS could be transformative for this new profession.

One of the foundations of PAS2035 is that in order to fulfil one of the new retrofit roles, you must hold a suitable, nationally-accredited qualification. As no such qualification existed for Retrofit Coordinators, The Academy and its partners secured funding from CITB to transform our CPD course into a Level 5 Diploma in Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management, available as eLearning and through taught courses. The new course is now an Ofqual-regulated qualification award by the Open College Network West Midlands. It is listed in the PAS as the required qualification that existing built environment professionals should gain in order to qualify as a Coordinator.      

New Retrofit Coordinator Accreditation Scheme from our Partners, Elmhurst Energy

The Retrofit Academy has also been working with Elmhurst Energy to develop a TrustMark-approved Retrofit Coordinator Accredited Professional Scheme. To practice as a Retrofit Coordinator, you must be a member of such a scheme, and you will need the Level 5 Diploma in order to be eligible to become a member.

Given the established laws of economics, the relatively small number of qualified and accredited Retrofit Coordinators should be in high demand.

Those gaining their Level 5 Diploma through The Retrofit Academy are eligible to join the Elmhurst Scheme at a special rate – saving £95. Contact The Retrofit Academy for more details.