Retrofit Awareness

Business • Harrogate

Harrogate College is working collaboratively to provide the skills needed in the fight against climate change.

  • First Retrofit Awareness feedback event.
  • Passivehaus model on site at Harrogate College.

Harrogate College's story

Harrogate College is delivering retrofit training as part of a much wider project on retrofit awareness. Sustainability plans across the country all point to skill gaps and the role of education; this project pragmatically answers this. Further Education institutions can work with employers and others to create training for people to transfer into the green economy and carry out the work the country needs to hit net zero.

For the country and the region to hit its carbon targets, retrofit is unavoidable. This is because "UK buildings are responsible for approximately 23% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions." (Green Finance Institute). The research showed that in the Harrogate district, there was over 100,000 homes that required retrofit to bring up their energy performance ratings. (Harrogate Advertiser 2020, Local Housing Strategy). The demand for this will only grow as regulations on landlords and developers change. The barrier to this has been seen in accessing Green Homes Grants. There were not enough trades people skilled in the areas of retrofit and retrofit assessment to fulfil the demands.

The college therefore teamed up with local third sector environmental organisations and employers to provide solutions. It hosted the first district Climate Action Festival where passive housing and retrofit was a key theme. An event was held at Harrogate college in association with Zero Carbon Harrogate which invited people working in the trades to get an introduction to retrofit and give feedback on the type of training they required to get into this area of work. The college then submitted an application to the Department for Education for the Strategic Development Fund Pilot alongside Craven College. This application was successful and pays for staff training.

Harrogate College used feedback from the events and then started work with Carbon Coop who work on People Powered Retrofit to organise Retrofit building skills courses that will be starting in January 2022. The impact of this will be skilled people qualified in the district to carry out retrofit works on properties.

This will have a huge impact on reducing carbon emissions. In the new year, there will also be further events for more trades people and homeowners to educate them on the benefits of retrofitting homes. This will lead to further uptake and even greater impact – environmentally and socially.

The college's commitment to working with employers to create the curriculum needed by the creation of an Employers Network that meets Employers from across various industries, including in the green economy and works with them to deliver training that matches skill gaps.

Education is vital for a fair and just transition to a new economy. Projects such as this where people can upskill into needed industries, are a perfect example of this.

Useful learnings from Harrogate College

Collaborate. We worked with and learnt from a variety of organisations. We worked with the third sector who gave insight into the existing work around retrofit and the connections across the country that had already been made. These organisations that are established in sustainability had a real insight into the barriers being faced for people who wanted to move the agenda forward.

We worked with charities such as Zero Carbon Harrogate, Zero Carbon Yorkshire and their building subgroups for insight and connections. We worked with Carbon Coop to look at resources for skills building. We worked with local trades people to learn more about their position on this and what they saw as barriers and opportunities.

We were led to the area of retrofit by the research and insight from local government and industry on the requirement for retrofit of housing stock to hit climate targets as well as the skill gap impacting the realisation of that. We work consistently with employers, and launched an employers network where we can continually gain feedback on current and future skill gaps. This meant that the project had demand and stakeholders were continually involved: this is key to anyone undertaking a project in any area.

Harrogate College's metrics

Number of people participating in events.
Amount of retrofitting work completed.
Engagement in the issue.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...



Response to climate crisis





Business, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub

Updated Feb, 2024

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