VIDEO | Best practice for decarbonising real estate portfolios

Retrofitting can not only improve energy efficiency, but also add value. This roundtable discussion, hosted by Hydrock, examined how collaboration, data collection, and clear briefs are the key to unlocking an effective decarbonisation strategy.


  • Craig Anderson, director of smart energy and sustainability at Hydrock
  • Bec Bennett, assistant director of sustainability at the University of Salford
  • Chris Bowie-Hill, director of innovation delivery at Hydrock
  • Helen Cutts, head of sustainability at the University of Central Lancashire
  • Alex Edwards, sustainability director at Bruntwood
  • Heather Evans, national head of sustainability at Rider Levett Bucknall
  • Sunny Johal, development director at Glenbrook
  • Aleksandra Przydrozna, associate director at Mace
  • Sheldon Walsh, partner at Ryder Architecture
  • Chaired by Julia Hatmaker, editor of Place North West

Key talking points

There is no ignoring that if the UK is going to meet its net zero targets then the country needs to get serious about retrofit. While the need for improving existing estates is clearly evident, it can still be a hard sale for investors and portfolio holders.

This is where data comes in, according to roundtable participants who pointed out that if you take the time to measure and examine energy usage, space utilisation, backlog maintenance, fire safety compliance, etc. then retrofitting becomes the best-case scenario.

That data can also inform a decarbonisation strategy, pointing out where the problem spots are and helping you target those areas.

The discussion also focused on best practices for retrofitting. The necessity of having a clear brief was mentioned repeatedly. Having every team member on board with the project’s goals right from the very beginning can save time and, ultimately, money.

Appointing sustainability consultants and engineers early on in the design process was another top tip shared by the roundtable, while others highlighted the importance of fabric-first design.

All the participants agreed that sharing information on what worked and what didn’t work on a retrofit project would do a lot to helping the industry better enact decarbonisation strategies.

You can hear highlights from the roundtable in the video at the top of this article, as well as on the Place North West YouTube channel. Learn more about Hydrock at

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