Digital skills’ role in the retrofit revolution

Photo of a home with solar panels for digital skills retrofit story
Image: Roywylam |

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has emphasised the need for digital skills for those in the domestic retrofit sector.

In its new framework for defining competence in domestic retrofit, the CLC sets out five core transferable competencies. Alongside digital skills, these are:

  • retrofit advocacy;
  • communication;
  • collaboration;
  • commitment to excellence; and
  • continuous improvement.

The CLC breaks down digital into three levels of knowledge: aware, proficient, and expert. It then details the digital skills and behaviours expected from each level.

For example, someone who is aware will:

  • understand what data can be collected during the full lifecycle of retrofit projects, including planning, design, installation and post-occupancy performance evaluation;
  • understand how appropriate collection and analysis of data provides insights that lead to better decision-making;
  • understand the importance of appropriate collection, organisation, storing and sharing of digital information regarding products, processes and project details throughout the building lifecycle;
  • understand what the golden thread is and its importance in managing building safety;
  • be aware of the existing tools, methods or software systems for collecting and storing digital information;
  • understand how to use digital tools (such as CAD and BIM) on retrofit projects; and
  • be aware of potential cybersecurity risks and use and store data following established protocols.

Increasing expectations

The proficient level increases expectations. For example, someone at this level will have a deeper understanding of digital tools (including CDEs) and be able to select the appropriate tools to plan and execute retrofit work, and be able to develop digital models that illustrate the project process and requirements. They will also be able to extract relevant information from digital models or drawings, and update and manage digital information continually through the life of a project.

Someone at the expert level will, among other behaviours, be able to establish procedures to analyse and evaluate data in accordance with project performance requirements, and then use insights from data analysis to support decision-making on current and future projects. They will also be able to integrate maintenance and end-of-life information into models for handovers to owners, occupiers or future installers.

Retrofit target

The UK has more than 28 million homes, most of which will need retrofitting to meet the country’s legally-binding target of becoming net zero by 2050.

According to the CLC, the amount of current retrofit work will not meet this target.

Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, external affairs and research at the Chartered Insitute of Building, welcomed the framework. He said: “We are fully supportive of the CLC’s calls for a national retrofit strategy and the development of competent people to deliver it.

“Retrofit work needs to be planned and undertaken by competent professionals and trade specialists to ensure improved household energy efficiency and trust in the industry to deliver on quality.”

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