Total Community Retrofit approach

Imagine's 2030 and local recycling rates have topped 80% with local businesses reusing almost all of the materials that used to go to landfill. Carbon dioxide emissions are well on track to meet 2050 targets partly through smarter local logistics and greener transport and homes that perform better, keep residents warmer and have helped to end fuel poverty in the area. Lower emissions have also improved air quality and, coupled with a renewed importance placed on green space and outdoor activity, have helped improve health.

This activity has been funded primarily by aligning existing investment in a more coordinated way and includes a mix of traditional government and private investment along with innovative micro financing initiatives and social investment bonds. This investment in the area has been structured to ensure it employs and provides training for local people and builds a thriving local economy.

Residents aren't simply agreeing to these changes, they are planning, designing, delivering, owning and managing a range of local projects stimulated by the transition to a low carbon economy. As a result they are also behaving more sustainably - residents own or have shares in local energy generation assets and are reaping the financial benefits of saving energy whilst improving the environment.

The aspiration outlined is a bold one, but reflects the size and complexity of the challenge; to drastically reduce our impact on the environment within the next few decades, without damaging economic growth or quality of life. Presently, activities in East London are being designed and delivered in a systemic and joined up way aimed at achieving environmentally, economically and socially sustainable change.

Taking an integrated and systemic approach means a broad and diverse range of interventions need to be considered: building retrofit; energy efficiency (e.g. smart home energy management systems, community energy co-operatives, energy efficiency consultations, smart meters); management of waste and resources (e.g community composting, efficient waste collection and materials repair/reuse pilots); sustainable transport (e.g electric vehicle car clubs, local walking and cycling); green initiatives (e.g local food growing, sustainable behaviour programmes, community networks); and green jobs, skills and enterprise training for local people and businesses.

Local stakeholders are placed at the heart of activity and decision-making in planning, designing, delivering, owning and managing the "Total Community Retrofit" (TCR) programme. Not only will this enable the community to benefit the most from delivery, for example through jobs and local amenities, but it will also help ensure active buy-in and support for the proposed actions. This, in turn, should lead to sustainable behaviour change, which is critical to long-term success.

To support activity within the TCR programme, the Institute has been working to develop 3D visualisation and data-driven modelling tools through a project called Neighbourhood Demonstrators.


The Institute for Sustainability's Total Community Retrofit (TCR) aspiration starts with the premise that to deliver sustainable cities we need large-scale and systemic innovation. Only by planning and investing in this way can we realise the efficiencies required to ensure widespread adoption.