Join the Retrofit Conversation

Together with M&G, The Green Register and Glasgows Agile City

Towards Net Zero Cities Through Green Retrofit/Renovation of Empty Spaces

Effective Retrofitting for Affordable Homes

The urgent case for scaling up sustainable retrofit to improve and increase UK housing.

Joint paper from The Green Register and Habitat for Humanity Great Britain.
This paper is being distributed at our COP26 side event in Glasgow on 11th November 2021.

Read the paper here

The Empty Spaces to Homes Campaign we have embarked upon together with M&G is drawing together like-minded Organisations from across private, public and voluntary sectors, with a common aim of transforming empty and underused commercial property to achieve social value in the form of new affordable homes for vulnerable individuals and groups.  This event will showcase our pilot project in Barking – completed 2019 and the growing Programme in East London which M&G are supporting, along with other relevant examples of HFH projects from elsewhere in Europe.  We are inviting you to ‘Join the Retrofit Conversation’ where we will be digging deeper into the ‘real world’ issues of environmentally sound retrofit.

Meet Our Partnership Panel

Tum Kazunga Habitat for Humanity GB

Tum has worked at HFHGB since May 2016, and been CEO since 2018. With a background in marketing and digital communications. Tum started in the not-for-profit space working at national deaf blind charity Sense, before moving into the international development sector with roles at FARM Africa and Action Against Hunger, among others.
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Nina Reid M&G Real Estate

Nina has overseen Responsible Property Investment (RPI) within M&G Real Estate for over 10 years, driving its ambitious RPI strategy, which seeks to enrich the lives of people and communities by creating and managing world class places which deliver positive value for its investors, society and the environment. She also oversees investor reporting on RPI initiatives, engaging directly with investors.
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Rob Morrison Agile City CIC

Rob is driven by the positive impact spaces can have on people and communities. After graduating from architecture at Glasgow School of Art he ran music and art events, which evolved into converting vacant buildings into arts venues and studios. He is director of Agile City and actively developing Glue Factory and Civic House as emerging cultural facilities in Glasgow.

Dr Ronita Bardhan Cambridge University

Dr Ronita Bardhan is Assistant Professor of Sustainability in Built Environment at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge. She is Director of MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies (MAUS) and leads the Sustainable Design Group at the Martin Centre: Sustainable buildings and cities, Department of Architecture.
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Jack Rillie Rock Trust

Jack Rillie is Director of Operations for Rock Trust, and leads the organisation’s Housing Management & Investment, Comms & Fundraising, Finance, ICT, People and Governance functions. Jack has years of experience working in the third and public sector, in a variety of roles, including social care, business development and programme management.’

Jim Kellechan Harley Haddow

Jim brings over 20 years’ construction experience to the table. He’s delivered buildings at principal and senior levels across all sectors. He has a particularly strong background in local authority, community and healthcare projects.

Ailsa Bruce Fife Women's Aid

I joined the Board in December 2019, having been a supporter of the charity in a small way over the last ten years.
I am a qualified chartered accountant and associate member of Association of Corporate Treasurers.
Originally from Aberdeen, I moved south to work in Financial Services.
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David Clare Habitat for Humanity GB

David is an experienced chartered architect with over 20 years design and project management experience in private, commercial and voluntary sectors. He worked for 12 years at Haskoll Architects & Designers on a wide range of mixed-use projects.
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We are keen to learn from our partners and see this as an opportunity for us to learn and do better, so that we can work towards net zero.
See below some of the projects we have worked on within the UK and globally. These projects help tackle climate change.


Empty Spaces to Homes

Habitat for Humanity GB have carried out research in partnership with the Empty Homes Network that looks at the UK-wide potential for converting unused or under-used commercial space into affordable homes for the vulnerable groups facing homelessness. For many years the traditional ‘High Street’ has been undergoing seismic shifts and the pandemic has served to accelerate this and bring it into shape focus.

In terms of environmental benefits to this approach, they are multi-layered, primarily with converting the embedded carbon in using existing buildings to repurpose it for community good. Subsequently, has a far more efficient performance with the new home created. In partnership with The Green Register and sponsored my M&G, Habitat for Humanity GB will be hosting a side event at COP26 on 11th November, exploring the ‘real world’ challenges of retrofitting and refurbishing buildings for use as affordable homes and promoting routes to achieving this in ways that are environmentally-conscious.

The spate of poor designed and exploitive conversions of commercial spaces, which has sadly been growing since planning changes allowed for a wider permitted development rights, means that sound reputation and experience in this arena is much more vital. There is a growing need to sensitively and courageously tackle the problem presented by vacant commercial and retail units with creative and forward thinking solutions that place the needs o community first.

We are piloting this in East London where homes are being created for from redundant commercially let property for young people leaving statutory care. Other opportunities are provided on this projects, with the local unemployed learning new skills on site. Corporate partners also support these renovations to happen with grant and volunteers to help build Habitat for Humanity GB are looking to expend this approach to other areas of the UK and formed a Coalition to achieve this.

Video: Filling the Gap: Repurposing empty spaces to help address the housing crisis in Great Britain

Our Partnerships with Councils


The project REELIH (Residential Energy Efficiency in Low-Income Households) started in 2012, in Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim of the USAID and Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa`s project is to tackle a common problem across countries in Central and Eastern Europe – energy inefficiency.

After the mass privatization in 1990s in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, ownership of the multi-apartment buildings was transferred from the state to residents. As there were no prior communal maintenance arrangements, common areas in buildings, like roofs, stairs and facades, fell into disrepair.

Habitat for Humanity and USAID Residential Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households (REELIH) project aims to improve living standards in multi-unit buildings. It focuses on developing a regional effort, resources and networks to address the impact of rising energy prices on collective housing.

Habitat for Humanity have helped insulate residents homes, cut individual energy bills, and improved their building’s grim exterior.

St Leonard’s Church Parish Centre

Habitat for Humanity GB are very excited about our project with St Leonard’s Church in Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire. We have been providing them with Project Management support since late 2017. Our approach has been considered by the Diocese of Oxford to be exemplary involving wide stakeholder and community engagement to help inform and develop the design solution. What has resulted is a dynamic, modern and environmentally sensitive response to the attractive woodland setting within this conservation area.

 The energy strategy and landscaping approach are available by clicking the PDF links below. There is also part of the Planning Application Design and Access statement which explains the approach in more detail.

The new Parish Centre is not ‘carbon zero’, but is designed in such a way that this target can be reached in the future through adaptation. However, it aims very high with use of PV panels, air source heat pump, underfloor heating and cooling, green roof, rainwater harvesting, swales and permeable paving, along with a beautiful landscaping scheme using planting appropriate to the woodland context. Cycling and pedestrian access is prioritised over cars, and electric vehicle charging points incorporated.

PA-18 Environmental Approach RevPL1[2] 

0771.1.1 Rev B St Leonards CB Colour 31.07.20[2]

PSA40 St.Leonards Church – Design & Access Statement – Section 3 to 5[3]


m&g logo
Our social purpose is on social mobility. We want to help create opportunities for people of all ages and at all stages, to help build more resilient and inclusive communities. Quote from Jane Rawnsley, M&G
For our poor families there is nothing more important than living in renovated houses that have kitchens, toilets, and running water. Our people used to defecate in the open because there were no private and communal toilets to use. Our people used to suffer a lot because of shortage of toilets as it was not possible to empty pit latrines due to lack of access roads to the neighborhoods. Quote from a resident in Malawi

Water is Life

Ethiopia is in the middle of one of the worst droughts for 50 years. Climate change is affecting the El Niño weather system, extending the dry season and making the arrival of rain increasingly erratic. In the capital, the Addis Ababa Water Supply and Sewerage Authority can supply only 60% of the current demand for water, leading to severe shortages in many parts of the city, especially during the dry season. 80% of the population of the city live in slum conditions and poor or non-existent sanitation poses a grave risk to health.

In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, the COINS Foundation has supported the national effort to build the resilience of urban slum dwellers of Addis Ababa with a three-year project to build new homes and upgrade slum dwellings. The project has had a strong focus on improving community access to clean water and hygienic toilet and sanitation facilities. As well as building new homes for 120 people and eight communal kitchens, new communal and public toilets and bathrooms have benefitted 1,270 people in one of the poorest parts of the city. Six new communal standpipes are helping almost 3,000 school children and their families while a further 570 families now have proper sewerage facilities to dispose of their waste.


During the project, 41 community health workers were trained in hygiene, sanitation and Covid-19 prevention and they have shared this vital message with thousands of community members and school children. A city resident told Habitat. “For our poor families there is nothing more important than living in renovated houses that have kitchens, toilets, and running water. Our people used to defecate in the open because there were no private and communal toilets to use. Our people used to suffer a lot because of shortage of toilets as it was not possible to empty pit latrines due to lack of access roads to the neighborhoods.

At the invitation of the community and with government support, Habitat has been asked to extend the project. With generous ongoing support from the COINS Foundation, we hope to transform the lives of thousands more slum dwellers in the coming three years.


Our Partnerships with Councils
From start to completion, Habitat for Humanity show a commitment to doing things the right way. Young people in housing need are given a home, others are trained on site, and the street scene has been improved significantly. They are partnering with LBBD to build on this success with further council-owned spaces. Carson Millican, Empty Property Project Officer, LB Barking & Dagenham

Get In Touch!

If you are interested in joining our coalition and would like further details, please click on the button below.

Join our Coalition Here

Contact details for our team:

Tum Kazunga, CEO

Email: Tel: 01753 313 617

Tessa Kelly, Head of income Generation

Email: Tel: 01753 313 617

David Clare, Business Development Manager

Email: Tel: 0207 732 0066

Lisa Campbell, Empty Spaces Coalition and Campaign Manager

Email:  Tel: 07387 800921