Why the Collective exists

We exist to help people get better results working together, in communities.

Existing buildings can be made more energy efficient, comfortable and healthy to live and work in through planned maintenance, retrofit and introducing local heat and energy systems. The Edinburgh Building Retrofit and Improvement Collective exists as an umbrella organisation to bring together, encourage, educate and empower the developing local ecosystem of community groups striving to do these things in their members’ homes. We are also here to act as a knowledgeable, trustworthy, independent and non-commercial community intermediary to/for tradespeople and professionals who can help with this work.

A community can be:

  • a tenement,
  • a street,
  • a neighbourhood,
  • or one of common interest (such as properties with similar needs).

Working collectively at community-scale can offer many advantages to householders, including:

  • being able to use highly skilled and qualified professionals for assessment and design getting better technical results for lower individual cost, as a result of economies of scale;
  • enabling retrofit work to be accessible for those who are disadvantaged in any way such that they are unable or unwilling to take on such a project on their own (and there are a considerable number of good reasons why this may be the case);
  • it being physically better for tenement or flatted buildings to be treated as a whole;
  • bigger carbon-savings from larger projects, with more positive impact on the climate and ecological emergencies, and
  • helping to develop stronger and more resilient communities by working together, using the win-win experience of collaborative community-led retrofit work as a catalyst to inspire projects for wider improvements in community quality of life.

A key point is that ‘retrofit’ (the loose term for all aspects of building retrofit and improvement for energy efficiency, comfort, health and affordability) has more complexities than maintenance, and really needs design choices to be made, based on trustworthy, independent skilled professional assessment and design advice. This is better than tradespeople or contractors being expected also to work out what should be done, or for assessment and design to be done by professionals with a commercial link to a particular contractor or supplier.

Working collectively at community-scale also offers advantages to professionals and contractors:

  • For good designers to be keen to be involved needs the jobs to be bigger in scale, (which needs collectivisation, which needs the Collective!);
  • Getting designers involved in larger projects means contractors will see such work as a market they want to be involved in. There is a huge need for more professionals and contractors to train and to focus on domestic retrofit, and
  • A move to collective project working – with connection-making between professionals and groups of householders aided by an intermediary like the Collective – will help develop the market by making it simpler to access and more attractive.

We aim to encourage and assist communities in the City of Edinburgh Council administrative area to ‘own’ the retrofit of their buildings, to gain funding, and carry out upgrade works to get better, cheaper results more easily. Doing so will lower heating costs, make homes healthier to live in, reduce carbon emissions and positively impact the value of people’s homes.

Resilient Communities

The members of the Collective share a vision beyond facilitating better, cheaper and more manageable retrofit work. We recognise the gravity of the systemic issues facing us all as we seek to make the necessary just transition in the face of the climate and biodiversity crises. We consider that an essential part of overcoming the challenges to a sustainable future is a revitalisation of the sense of mutual support and power that comes from well-developed and more resilient communities and a more reuse-based and circular economy operating within planetary boundaries.

We see community-led building improvement and retrofit work as a win-win element of a bigger process; in essence part of our theory of change.

Read more about our model for helping develop sustainable resilient communities

More questions? Have a look at our FAQ

Read about our aims/plans and our member organisations.