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Warm homes for all? The role of new business models, finance mechanisms, and their implications for policy


The energy retrofit of homes is one of the most important and challenging issues for the decarbonisation of the global economy; having ancillary benefits for social welfare, economic development, energy security and public health. After a series of failed and limited policy initiatives, the UK is now increasingly lacking a strategy to upgrade its housing stock in line with its carbon targets. Drawing on my PhD at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED), in this presentation I will examine how new ‘business models’ and ‘finance mechanisms’, can promote a comprehensive ‘whole-house’ approach to retrofit. In addition, how policymakers can support these new business models and finance mechanisms through innovation intermediaries, drawing on the recent Energiesprong initiative.  I will further argue this requires a reframing away from the old ‘barriers’ narrative towards a focus on the systemic challenges that continue to undermine demand for whole house retrofits. I will conclude by arguing that overcoming these systemic challenges will require an equally systemic policy approach across multiple domains and levels of government. 



Donal is Research Fellow in Renewable Electricity Business models at the University of Leeds as part of the European Union H2020 project – Prosumers in the Energy Union (PROSEU). Donal is also Sustainability Director at an innovative Design and Build architecture practice – Sustainable Design Collective. Donal has past experience in sustainable energy consultancy, a First class BSc in Environmental Science, Distinction in Climate Change and Policy MSc and PhD in Domestic Retrofit from SPRU. A sustainable energy and energy demand specialist in the low carbon housing sector; Donal has provided consultancy on renewable energy and sustainable solutions to the UK Labour Party. Donal has technical experience in building integrated renewable energy systems as well as Passivhaus and energy efficient design.