The Retrofit Lab

Supporting Integrated Urban Retrofitting of Buildings, Infrastructure, and Landscapes

Diagram showing Buildings, Infrastructure and Landscape symbols

The Retrofit Lab is a Research and Innovation Laboratory activating the transition of Australia's buildings, infrastructure and landscapes for resilient, healthy, and sustainable cities.

The Retrofit Lab supports the creation of new-high quality jobs in construction and manufacturing and is driving the development of new enterprises and research collaborations to generate prosperity for Australia.

Buildings Infrastructure and Landscapes symbols on short square pillars, connected by hovering green line

Our Solution

Led by the University of Melbourne, The Retrofit Lab will provide solutions for property owners, developers, construction firms, designers, policy-makers, and communities to increase uptake of retrofitting.

We are seeking partners to collaborate in the design and delivery of the Centre. The Lab will provide the mechanisms to “decarbonize” cities by using the convening power of the University to tailor relevant solutions to business needs and provide an evidence base for policies. The University of Melbourne will work with business, government and communities to achieve their goals.

Established cities will achieve the largest GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions savings by replacing, repurposing, or retrofitting the building stock, strategic infilling and densifying, as well as through modal shift and the electrification of the urban energy system.’

Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change (Technical Summary of IPCC Assessment Report 6) pp.97

  • Purpose

    By 2030 the Retrofit Lab will be a world-leading living laboratory to support and activate the sustainable, restorative transition of Melbourne. We will facilitate a research and innovation ecosystem to retrofit buildings, infrastructure and landscapes with technologies and systems to address biodiversity, climate and public health emergencies. We will support the creation of new high-quality jobs in construction and manufacturing, and generate prosperity for Australia. The Retrofit Lab will nurture new enterprises and strengthen collaboration between universities, businesses, government and non-governmental organisations.

    1. Operate physical and digital facilities for researching, designing, prototyping and testing processes and products.

    ​2. Deploy designed experiments to inform best practice urban retrofit for positive social, economic, environmental outcomes.

    3. Evaluate and monitor the built, natural, and social environment to support adaptive management and innovation.

    4. Inform and facilitate transformative policy, regulation, business models and finance to enable mass retrofit across existing buildings and landscapes.

    5. Support business development for new enterprises and connect Melbourne innovators to global networks and markets.

    6. Identify, support and promote retrofit knowledge and skills development to deliver urban retrofit outcomes, and enable inclusive participation across built environment trades and professions.

  • Challenges

    Commercial buildings are responsible for 60% of carbon emissions for the City of Melbourne . In Australia, buildings are responsible for one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions . Most of these buildings will remain in place well beyond 2050, so there is a strong imperative to retrofit existing building stock to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental, economic and social performance. Retaining existing buildings is also important to avoid additional emissions associated with demolition and rebuilding.

    The embodied carbon in buildings is an increasingly important consideration in decision-making for the property sector, leading to a growing demand for retrofitting. Cities and buildings must also adapt to climate change resulting from current and historic carbon emissions, including increased temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, diminished habitat for biodiversity, and extreme weather events. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of ventilation in buildings, and healthy workplaces and cities are now a high priority for employers and workers.

    The problem is that the property sector, construction industry and built environment professions are overwhelmingly structured to deliver new buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings is currently a niche activity within the sector. Many of the tools, technologies and policies needed to make buildings, infrastructure and urban landscapes more sustainable are already available. If retrofitting is to be widely adopted the commercial property market and construction sector must be convinced it is more valuable than current models based on new building which increases embodied carbon emissions.

Partner with The Retrofit Lab

The Retrofit Lab are currently looking for connections with industry, government and research disciplines to partner and collaborate with.

Partner with us

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