What’s it like to work in retrofit at CSE?

17 March 2022

Retrofit is improvement work carried out on existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient, which saves money on bills in the long term and is better for the environment.

It's an exciting time to work in retrofit, with more and more people realising the need to upgrade their homes to save energy, make them more comfortable and help reach our net-zero targets.  At the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), we have a dedicated retrofit team offering advice, home surveys and recommendations for the most impactful and cost-effective measures bespoke to each home. We're looking to expand our team to reflect the growing interest in retrofit and train more people to become experts, helping as many people as possible. You can find our available roles here.

Jenna, a Retrofit Assessor and Coordinator, has worked at CSE for five years, starting as a caseworker before moving into retrofit in June 2020. Here, she shares her experience, what she likes about her job and what you can expect from a role in retrofit at CSE.

What does an average day look like?

Ooh, well this is tricky as day to day can be different! I typically spend 1 or 2 days a week surveying homes, and the rest of the time in the office writing them up or doing admin.

When I am surveying, I often do two surveys a day. I start by meeting the homeowner and get an idea of what they'd like to achieve (e.g., save money on bills, increase insulation, install solar panels), and what their house is like at the moment, such as how much they use the heating, any draughty areas, that sort of thing. I take lots of measurements and pictures that I enter into a programme to create a model of the home. The next step is to look at ways to improve it, and the programme helps to highlight how potential changes affect energy use. From here, I create a report detailing advice and guidance of the most impactful and cost-effective changes the homeowner can make, spanning over thirty years.

The surveys can be down the road from where I am in Bristol, or it might be an hour's drive away. Depending on the location, I sometimes stop somewhere nice for lunch. I've sat by the sea in Weston, and one time I climbed Burrow Hill on the Somerset Levels. Getting to see different places is a great perk.

What makes it different to other roles you’ve had before? 

It’s a new role to CSE so, unlike my previous well-established role, I’ve been helping to get things off the ground. It can be tricky as I can't ask anyone for advice, so sometimes it feels like I’m making things up as I go! But in other ways, it’s great to have a challenge and the opportunity to shape and develop the role and be part of such a new team.

Why did you choose to work for CSE? 

I first heard about CSE when I did my master's at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Then, when I worked in Talking Money's energy team, I used to share CSE resources with clients. CSE has always been well-respected in the energy sector, and I was intrigued by the range of work they're involved in.

On top of that, corporate roles have never appealed to me. The fact that CSE is a charity was a big plus for me. I like being able to help people and work on projects that benefit people because it's the right thing to do and not because it makes a profit.

What’s your favourite thing about your role? 

I love seeing the impact of my work as it makes a difference to people's energy bills and carbon emissions. It's really rewarding. And, the fact I can travel around the South West to complete surveys is a bonus.

What’s your least favourite? 

Currently, trying to work with the new retrofit standard (PAS2035) is proving to be a bit of a nightmare. As everything is so new, it can be hard to clarify the best approach. There are lots of new processes that other organisations enforce slightly differently, but we’re getting to grips with it and will get there eventually!

Is there anything you would say to people applying for a retrofit role? 

If you like meeting new people and getting stuck into technical challenges, this role is ideal for you! It can be difficult as there are lots of differing opinions about the best way to do things, but navigating this is all part of what makes it interesting. And at CSE, we have a really friendly team that are happy to help!

Would you recommend working here to a friend

Yes, for sure!

If this role sounds like something you'd enjoy, you can find and apply for our available roles here.

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