Accelerator Cities

The Accelerator Cities project brings together some of the UK’s most ambitious city authorities and other expert stakeholders to catalyse action on home retrofit. We are grateful for the support of EIT Climate-KIC which enabled us to kick-start this programme
Sun setting with atmospheric effect over traditional British houses and tree lined streets.


April 27, 2020


Policy & Advocacy, Membership & Networks



In 2019, UKGBC led a ‘Pathfinder’ project for Accelerator Cities, which partnered with five cities and consulted with dozens more, to analyse what support cities need to galvanise greater action on low carbon home retrofit.

Why focus on city-led retrofit?

Radically reducing carbon emissions associated with the energy used in the existing housing stock is one of the single biggest challenges facing the nation in terms of making the transition to a net zero carbon economy.It is our strong belief that central government is not going to be able to ‘solve’ home retrofit alone, by delivering it through a wholly top-down approach.

Local authorities and Combined Authorities are well placed to deliver action on home retrofit due their ambitious carbon reduction pledges and their knowledge of the local housing stock, areas and priorities. Their status as a ‘trusted player’ gives the public reassurance and enables them to act as a good broker between the industry and homeowners, giving the programme oversight and legitimacy.

UKGBC’s 2019 Pathfinder project demonstrated that support is needed to co-ordinate the actions of local government to maximise efficiency and enable a comprehensive, holistic and collaborative approach at the city level.

To take this work forward to the next stage, UKGBC again partnered with EIT Climate-KIC to support a programme of work throughout 2020. During this period, a steering group made up of key stakeholders (see below) have played a central oversight and programme management role.

Our plans for 2021-22

For 2021-22 we would like to grow our capacity and scale up reach and impact. The programme will continue to focus on the challenges for local authorities of retrofit strategy, finance, skills and consumer engagement – not as siloed issues but as linked ones. To enable this integrated approach, the programme will be structured around the following activity-based workstreams:

  • Research & production of key resources – including ongoing updating of Retrofit Playbook
  • Digital communications & network building – including online mapping of policies & programmes
  • Events & direct engagement with local authorities and key stakeholder groups – e.g. finance sector, supply chain etc
  • Central Government advocacy – including feeding into anticipated consultations on regulation of the owner-occupied sector
  • Pilots – supporting exemplar projects, and extracting lessons learned for wider benefit of others

What the programme has delivered so far


The Retrofit Playbook – A resource to support local and combined authorities in developing retrofit policies and initiatives, through sharing best practice and guidance.

Interactive Policy Map – An interactive map highlighting leading examples of domestic retrofit policies and initiatives from local and combined authorities across the UK.

Briefing for local authorities: Green Homes Grants scheme & the relationship with long term retrofit strategy  – This briefing is intended to provide guidance to local authorities on the immediate steps they can take to help ensure that the GHG scheme is of benefit locally, avoids potential pitfalls and is used – as far as possible – as a helpful catalyst to a locally-led, comprehensive long term retrofit programme.

Understanding how to motivate whole-house retrofit  – In-depth consumer research into the motivations behind improving the energy efficiency of our homes. The research involved in-depth interviews in December 2020 and explored the experiences of 10 homeowners across England who were either considering or had already undertaken measures to improve energy efficiency.

Driving retrofit at scale: funding opportunities for local government – A report exploring discussions and ideas around the role of local authorities in delivering and enabling retrofit finance to all tenures.

Video resources

Retrofit Playbook Overview

Retrofit Playbook in Practice: North presentation

Retrofit Playbook in Practice: Midlands presentation

Retrofit Playbook in Practice: London and South East presentation

Retrofit Playbook in Practice: South West

You can see comments on the Retrofit Playbook from the regional workshops here.

Further resources

The Retrofit Academy’s Local Authority PAS 2035 Toolkit can be downloaded here.

Retrofit Academy – PAS 2035: The Movie 

Get Involved

We are seeking a range of complementary private sector, public sector and philanthropic funding partners to support the programme in 2021-22 – get in touch with for more information.

We are asking local authorities to tell us about policies and programmes in your authority that are either in place, or in development by completing this short form.

Receive direct email updates on the Accelerator Cities programme – sign up here.

For further information or to get involved please contact



We are also working together with Hope for the Future to facilitate and support engagement between constituents and community groups with their local MPs and councillors on home retrofit, including through sharing the relevant findings of the Programme. For more information, and if you’re interested in accessing support to work with your own MP on home retrofit, click here