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WM Greener Together blog - retrofit

WMGT forum meeting

It was a packed room for our latest West Midlands Greener Together Forum discussing retrofit

Regional retrofit projects

This week we held the second West Midlands Greener Together Forum, where members of the public, community groups, NGOs, businesses, and local authorities came together to discuss important environmental issues.

This was our first time hosting the Forum as a hybrid meeting, with 25 people attending in-person at The Warehouse, home to Friends of the Earth in Birmingham. We also had 20 people join us online to discuss the chosen topic of regional retrofit projects.

With the current energy and cost of living crises, there is an even greater focus on how we keep our homes warm and comfortable. With the energy price cap rising in October, it is estimated that 40% of households in Birmingham alone will fall into fuel poverty. To meet the region’s target to be net zero by 2041, 292,000 homes need to be retrofitted by 2026 to meet these climate targets.

The session kicked off with a roundup of the discussions from our first Forum meeting in March. Ed Cox, Director for Strategy, Integration and Net Zero at the WMCA, ran through the actions points we had taken away on how the Forum should run and addressed the questions raised on tree and hedge planting. View the notes and presentations from the first meeting.

Our co-host for this meeting was George Simms, SMART HUB lead within the Energy Capital team at the WMCA. George’s role is to coordinate retrofit projects across the region to create a sustainable market for affordable retrofit technologies (SMART). George talked us through projects at the WMCA, including our Net Zero Neighbourhood Demonstrator project which is a street by street approach to retrofitting homes. George also shared insights into the Affordable Warmth Competition work in Solihull and Coventry, which see’s 300 households receive the latest fuel reducing technologies.

Phil Beardmore from Energy Confidence spoke on his work of supporting places of worship to help them understand their environmental impact. Phil is currently working with Footsteps to help develop energy saving strategies for faith groups in Birmingham. There are places still available and with just a £50 returnable commitment fee, you can apply to take part in the project here:

We were then joined online by Rachel Jones, Chief Executive of Act on Energy who support vulnerable households with energy advice and guide them through the retrofit process. Energy assessors at the charity, visit householders to talk through what they need to do to their home, whether that’s through low-cost solutions such as draft proofing windows or high-cost solutions such as cavity wall insulation.

Imandeep Kaur, co-founder and director of Civic Square bought a community led perspective to the challenges and opportunities for retrofitting homes. Their demonstrator project in Ladywood mobilises residents to collectively imagine their space and share decision-making. Retrofit needs to be part of what we do as part of everyday life and the Civic Square demonstrator will be of national significance to showcase this.

Following breakout room discussions, the presenters lead a plenary discussion, where attendees asked questions around funding for retrofit projects, how the skills gap can be addressed, what materials are currently available and how can low-income households be supported.

Ideas and comments from the discussions will help shape the trailblazer devolution deal the WMCA will negotiate with government, which will redefine the powers of the WMCA across the region. Retrofit is a big part of this deal, and we will be putting forward suggestions that funding should be focused on street by street retrofit projects, similar to our Net Zero Neighbourhood project, rather than current funding which focuses on individual homes.

We had some worthwhile discussions, and we look forward to the next meeting in September. If you would like to be part of setting the agenda for the next meeting, or to be sent the registration details, please email

The Forum is open for anyone in the West Midlands to attend.