The Max Lock Centre conducted research into retrofitting technologies for sustainable development. The project begins from the premise that much of the current research into sustainability is concerned with technologies and practices for new builds. While the adoption of such technologies in new developments is commendable, our concern is that historic cities and town centres are being overlooked.

Large swathes of our town and city centres are under conservation orders and only 2% of our existing building stock is renewed each year. Redeveloping city centres to ensure they match sustainable guidelines is thus not feasible. How is it then possible to ensure historic urban areas are included in the drive to create more sustainable communities? How are we to ensure that historic buildings and city centres conform to the Government’s sustainability agenda?

This initial scoping study identified the challenges and suggest possible solutions to improve the sustainability of the Soho area in London, focusing in particular on the historic building fabric. It is an area-based study that highlights the issues that confront retrofitting existing historic areas and illustrates these through case studies and examples of good practice.

With financial support from the Soho Community Environment Fund, The Crown Estate, the City of Westminster, English Heritage, and Shaftesbury PLC, the project sets out policy guidelines for implementing sustainable retrofit technologies.

On 26 November 2007 the project was awarded a Bronze Award from the International Awards for Liveable Communities for Environmentally Sustainable Projects.