House with solar panels

The first focus for the 3 Cities is accelerating retrofit activities across social homes. Retrofit introduces new materials, products and technologies into existing buildings to reduce the energy needed, and therefore the CO2 emitted, whilst improving thermal comfort. Introducing renewable energy generation solutions such as photovoltaic, offsite wind renewables and battery storage provides the route to net zero.


The 3 Cities Retrofit is an initiative to develop an integrated retrofit programme across the cities and one which reflects the diversity of needs and housing portfolios of each city.

The scale - potentially some 700,000 homes and of the 165,000 social homes across the cities - combined with regional and city expertise and the collaborative approach of our pooled assets, means the 3 Cities are in an advantageous position to accelerate and drive forward the decarbonisation of homes.

By working together and with other partners, we will address barriers, build capacity, and develop a range of funding, financing, and delivery models for retrofit initially across social housing but looking beyond as well. Through our collaborative and integrated approach, the 3 Cities offers a single entry point for partners and investors to co-shape this at-scale initiative.


To keep global warming within 1.5°C, the UK needs to address the existing housing stock to deliver the seismic shift needed.


Across the 3 cities, 35% of CO2 emissions come from housing. For the UK, this is circa 28%.


Almost 40% of UK homes pre-date 1945, making them some of the oldest and least insulated in Europe.

Our retrofit vision is driven by a political commitment and people with bold ambitions

Deborah Cadman OBE

Birmingham City Council Chief Executive

"Reaching net zero means tackling all emissions including from housing. With Birmingham having the country’s largest council housing stock, we know the task is significant. But, coming together as the 3 Cities retrofit represents a unique commitment of our cities and a huge opportunity to transform social homes and spur wider change in the market.

Our collective assets and expertise mean we’ve significant comparative advantages to advance one of the largest retrofit programmes in the country and bring significant benefits including carbon reduction, renewal of homes, levelling up, new jobs and accelerating innovation. We’re now seeking ambitious investors, businesses and partners to join us in supporting and shaping this transformative programme."

Birmingham Grand Central Station Sunset
Coventry skyline at night

Martin Reeves

Coventry City Council Chief Executive

"De-carbonisation and the retrofitting of homes at scale across the 3 Cities and the wider West Midlands, is one of the most significant challenges facing us. Whilst it’s daunting to conceptualise the scale of what we face, this collaborative project provides a series of once-in-a-generation opportunities to create jobs, new supply chains, future-proof homes and, perhaps most importantly, reduce and hopefully eradicate fuel poverty across our three cities and the region.

The existing, undisputed assets we have on research & development, innovation, companies growing in the green futures and energy sector, allied to a commitment to help lead the UK’s sustainable future, makes this feel achievable, but only if we keep our ambitions high, never compromise and bring all key stakeholders with us. This is one of the most impactful programmes I have been involved in during twenty years of public service leadership."

Wolverhampton city night scene

Tim Johnson

City of Wolverhampton Council Chief Executive

"As three ambitious, progressive cities, we are determined to provide energetic leadership to enable us to be at the forefront of the UK's drive towards delivering a high quality, energy efficient, retrofitted housing stock that will provide great homes for local people.

We are intensively focused on developing an unrivalled expertise in shaping innovative, viable funding solutions, capable of being delivered at scale. In parallel to ensure the local employment benefits are captured we will focus on shaping an education, skills and employability system focused initially on meeting the needs arising from the initial retrofit opportunity. Our respective track records as centres of excellence and innovation across a range of growing economic sectors gives us the confidence that combining our expertise and resources will enable us to deliver a truly transformational outcome."

To mitigate risk and maximise return on investment and co-benefits, we’ll bring together all of the enablers of retrofit

Retrofit Solutions

Net zero can only be achieved through coordinated action across the areas of energy efficiency, heat decarbonisation and renewable energy generation to deliver economies of scale in our cities.

Collaboration and Partners

Engaging our established ecosystem of trusted partners in the region and nationally to support pilot and planned programmes of activity. These include key partners such as the WMCA, universities and colleges in our region, government and industry.

Funding and Financing

We will engage with the financial community and government to co-create blended investable net zero solutions which unlock the potential to aggregate revenue streams, maximise financial returns and deliver social and environmental co-benefits on the ground.

Supply Chain

The 3 Cities benefit from accessibility through a strong network of local entrepreneurial industry partners who are global leaders in their respective sectors. We will engage them early in the process to support us to articulate investible solutions and to underpin our ambition for our cities and the region to be centres of excellence for energy efficiency and energy transition.

Skills and Jobs

We have access to a highly skilled and diverse workforce. But we want to expand this further, working with skills providers, the WMCA and industry, to enable upskilling and secure the jobs to deliver retrofit.

Technology and R&D

Benefitting from being positioned in the manufacturing and transport centre of the UK, we are looking to expand our collaboration with innovation and investment partners to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing net zero and energy transition. We are seeking opportunities to build on current and planned innovation activity including through Tyseley Energy Park, the National Centre for Decarbonisation of Heat, the National Brownfield Institute and the new Gigafactory.

Data and Digital Ecosystem

Applying a data-driven approach, we will intelligently plan, design, deliver and measure retrofit interventions. We will encourage digital investment partners and technology start-ups to come forward to work with us around mobilising innovation opportunities in the space of data and technology.

Wider programmes relating to enabling retrofit

Our comprehensive approach to retrofit brings together the three elements of energy efficiency improvements, heat decarbonisation and energy generation

Outdoor plants in Coventry city centre


Energy Efficiency

The outcomes of high-quality energy efficiency measures are improved thermal comfort and reduced fuel bills which contribute to combatting fuel poverty. Improving energy efficiency could deliver over 40% of the Paris Agreement targeted carbon reductions, whilst increasing stock value and reducing maintenance costs.

Heating Decarbonisation

Decarbonisation of heat involves switching to innovative low carbon technologies to provide homes with clean sources of heat. District heating networks form a significant investment opportunity. They are an important part of the UK’s plan to reduce carbon and cut bills – it is estimated that 18% of the UK’s heat will need to come from these networks by 2050.

Renewable Energy Generation

This involves individual or large-scale local electricity generation from renewable, or replenishable, sources of energy such as solar or wind to deliver net zero. Renewable energy generation and battery storage is already mainstream and arguably the component with the best economic profile and most proven investment case.

We will balance these retrofit solutions with carbon impact and capex requirements

This aims to realise significant energy and carbon savings through bringing together a coherent set of interventions to achieve energy efficiency, heat decarbonisation and renewable energy generation.

This visual presents an indicative average capex cost breakdown and impact on energy and carbon reduction as result of a low energy deep whole house domestic retrofit which meets the EnerPHit Retrofit standard as developed by the Passivhaus Trust.

This visual presents an indicative average capex cost breakdown and impact on energy and carbon reduction as result of a of a low energy deep whole house domestic retrofit which meets the EnerPHit Retrofit standard as developed by the Passivhaus Trust.

Aggregated net zero investments will deliver a blend of benefits to our three cities

Green park in Wolverhampton

Social Benefits – improving quality of life

  • Better living conditions

  • Warmer and healthier homes

  • Improved community health and wellbeing

  • Reduced energy bills

  • Reduced fuel poverty

  • Create low carbon job opportunities and upskilling

Economic Benefits – investible solutions

  • Improved property and land value

  • Reduced maintenance and operational costs

  • Increased investment in manufacturers, contractors and start-ups

  • Regional business and economic growth through new retrofit revenue streams

Environmental Benefits – delivering net zero

  • Reduce carbon emissions

  • Greater use of renewable resources

  • Reduced energy usage

Today, our cities are leading the way in decarbonisation, with many retrofit initiatives able to be leveraged in the short to medium term

Together, we have significant insight and expertise across energy efficiency, heat decarbonisation and renewable energy generation to realise our net zero ambitions.


  • Birmingham-based Energy System Catapult accelerating the transformation and design of the country’s energy systems and helping companies flourish in a net zero future (HD)
  • 300 home retrofit pilot across low-rise flats and cross wall archetypes (35 - 40% of the city’s housing stock) (EE)

  • Whole-house retrofit, PV and battery research project on 300 homes to test new locally-produced thermal wrap, look into new funding models, involve private sector, design a community learning platform supported by Cadent (EE, REG, CE)

  • Low rise stock multi tenure street retrofit pilots encouraging owner occupiers involvement (EE, CE)

  • East Birmingham Community Heat Taskforce to establish a Low Carbon Heating Innovation Zone (HD)

  • Cadent Gas Distribution Network – smart local energy systems design (HD)

  • Tyseley Energy Park’s heat  decarbonisation research and innovation hub with collaboration across industry, academia, local government (HD)

  • Birmingham District Energy Scheme partnership with EQUANS (HD)


  • Registered Provider & Council joint funded retrofit pilots (EE)
  • Climate Change Board with key industry partners to join together on net zero ambitions and action (HD, REG)

  • Retrofit community art projects to encourage occupier buy-in and understanding on sustainability (CE)
  • Joint venture low-carbon energy infrastructure & retrofit partner study (HD)

  • Award winning Regional Energy System Operator (RESO) research project to reduce energy system carbon emissions and costs for consumers (in collaboration with University of Warwick and Birmingham, WMCA) (HD)

  • 5000 Solar photovoltaic panels programme (REG)

  • District heat network zoning pilots (HD)


  • National Brownfield Institute’s technology research into heat recovery ventilation and MMC retrofit pods (EE)
  • Multiple medium and high rise tower block cladding, low carbon district heating and energy centre pilots at over 2000 properties which includes tenant decant pilots (EE, HD)

  • New National Centre for Sustainable Construction – MMC, retrofit technology, skills & innovation (EE)

  • First city centre solar farm on publicly owned brownfield land (REG)


  • Net Zero Neighbourhood place based retrofit pilots, including wider infrastructure, EV and public realm opportunities to improve the quality of life (EE, HD, REG, CE)


EE= Energy Efficiency; HD= Heating Decarbonisation; REG= Renewable Energy Generation; CE= Community Engagement

Collective action will catalyse a step change in retrofit

Through early engagements, we will seek to create an ecosystem of partners, bringing together partners across the public, private and third sectors to co-create.


Citizens and communities

Many of the retrofit interventions will not be impactful without behavioural change among our citizens. We will work with individual citizens and whole communities to understand how homes are used and inform how we collectively achieve net zero


Working with academia, manufacturers and suppliers to test readiness of emerging R&D through our pilots and programmes.

Manufacturers and suppliers

Building on the existing thriving green and manufacturing sectors in our cities to fill the gap in UK capacity to meet forecasted demand

Investors and Funders

Working together with financial institutions, third sector and government organisations to develop blended financing options to co-fund, design and deliver retrofit at scale

Homes England and National Housing Federation

We’ll seek the counsel of Homes England and National Housing Federation to support the required collaborations

Energy Regulators and Providers

Identifying opportunities to test new ways to decarbonise, save costs and benefit citizens through the transformation of local energy and heating systems

Registered Providers

Working together to decarbonise the 83,000 registered providers' properties across our three cities and eliminate fuel poverty for every 3 Cities citizen

West Midlands Combined Authority

Identifying ways to benefit and bring in our wider region to ensure no West Midlands citizen is left behind. This will include sharing lessons learnt and best practice; co-designing and funding upskilling programmes; and creating local economies of scale

UK Government

Mobilising Central Government is a key step in unlocking the potential of retrofit, working with government partners to create funding, drive policy change and alignment, generate jobs, and encourage action and incentivisation. This includes collaboration with BEIS, DLUHC, DIT, DfE and the DWP

+ Other Local Authorities

By co-learning and sharing with other Local Authorities and Registered Providers, the 3 Cities will be able to catalyse nationwide acceleration of retrofit programmes.

Join us and be part of building our tomorrow

Trittiford mill park

From today to beyond 2050:

  • Capture existing benefits and lessons learnt from current retrofit activities across the three cities
  • Early market engagement with supply chain, government and investors
  • Establish digital and data ecosystem
  • Business case and investment models developed and agreed between partners
  • First large scale pilots commence - co created with citizens
  • Low carbon and retrofit training within regional colleges
  • Retrofit manufacturing and supply chain growth
  • Increase in green jobs
  • Retrofit activity acceleration
  • 70% CO2e UK 2030 reduction target
  • All social housing stock decarbonised
  • 3 Cities deliver on CO2e neutral vision


homes in the cities


3 Cities council owned housing stock


3 Cities Registered Providers’ owned stock


Privately owned housing stock across the cities