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 in enabling us to lead this project.
Sun setting with atmospheric effect over traditional British houses and tree lined streets.


April 27, 2020


Policy & Advocacy, Membership & Networks



In 2019, with support from EIT-Climate KIC, 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.

The new Conservative Government committed to lowering ‘energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals’ in its December 2019 manifesto. Nevertheless, 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 (LAs) and Combined Authorities (CAs) 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 LAs and CAs to maximise efficiency and enable a comprehensive, holistic and collaborative approach at the city level.

UKGBC has now secured further co-funding from EIT-Climate KIC to take this work forward to the next stage. A steering group made up of key partners and stakeholders will perform a central oversight and programme management role during 2020. An important ancillary aim of the work is to enable greater partnership between industry and NGO groups working in this space.

What will the 2020 project deliver?

The priorities for Accelerator Cities 2020 include:

  1. Support development and implementation of home retrofit strategies
    We will support cities to build the evidence base for home retrofit, draft and implement city-wide Home Retrofit Strategies by using consistent methodologies and approaches. Including through production of a Retrofit ‘Policy Playbook’ with detailed guidance for use by any local authority, building on the outputs from the 2019 Pathfinder, and a ‘live’ monitoring/tracking of cities with active home retrofit policies
  2. Explore and develop funding propositions for all tenures in partnership with the finance sector
    We will support collaboration between cities and the finance sector, to facilitate ways of funding the cost of whole house, deep retrofit for each tenure type. We will commission work that enables cities to understand the most viable options available to them.
  3. Help cities understand their skills base
    We will support cities in understanding their local supply chain capacity and training needs, including adding value through newly commissioned research where there are gaps.
  4. Support effective engagement with householders
    We will refresh the evidence on how cities can best motivate and support householders to take action on home retrofit and explore whether cities could collaborate around a ‘One Stop Shop’ model.
  5. Communication and dissemination
    We will build on existing networks to communicate and disseminate existing and new resources, evidence and insights to local authority networks, central government, industry bodies and other key stakeholders.
  6. Business Plan
    We will assess the value of the Accelerator Cities model as it evolves and deliver a plan for ongoing work in 2021 and beyond.

A note about the devolved context

During the Pathfinder, we ran nine workshops across the country, including in Cardiff and Edinburgh, however due to the different political contexts of the devolved nations it would be challenging to develop a programme which meets the needs of all three nations. Therefore in 2020 Accelerator Cities will focus on English cities. This could be reviewed in due course.


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.

Get Involved

We are consulting on the first draft of our retrofit Policy Playbook. To review the Playbook and give feedback, access the consultation here.

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