Innovate UK - Accelerating Net Zero Living in Perth and Kinross

Following on from a successful Phase 1 Pathfinder Places Project in mid-2023, Perth & Kinross Council, in partnership with Nicki Souter Associates, the University of Edinburgh and the HEAT Project (part of Blairgowrie & Rattray Development Trust) applied for Phase 2 funding via Innovate UK Pathfinder Places. The aim of securing this funding was to develop the key community co-created place-based solutions that address non-technical barriers as voted for by residents and businesses in the Phase 1 areas. In March 2024, the partnership was successful in their bid, receiving £150k which will allow the team to undertake a project focussing on retrofit and rural transport over a 17-month period. This page will provide project updates as we progress.

Phase 1 Outcomes

The phase 1 project, which took a community focussed approach to identifying non-technical barriers and place-based solutions in three communities across both rural and urban settings. Involving both businesses and residents, similar non-technical barriers emerged:

a) Lack of awareness and support mechanisms

b) Lack of green skills

c) Supply chain issues

d) Ownership and permission (including planning restrictions)

e) Personal financial status

f) Lack of sustainable transport options (rural)

g) Cost and scheduling of sustainable transport options (rural areas)

Place based community co-created solutions were voted on and the two following solutions (revitalising homes and connection regional transport) were identified as the top solutions to explore within the Pathfinders funded project.

Revitalising Homes

Revitalising Homes will look at a whole systems approach to retrofit through engagement with local suppliers and installers, identifying green skills gaps, exploring and modifying a customer re-claim model for funding and creating a viable business model for a sustainable retrofit project.
The theme will focus on the entire Perth & Kinross local authority area.

The majority of work focus on two schemes that will be available for homeowners, and private and social housing landlords to utilise. 1) creating a local Green Skills Trusted Traders’ Network and supplier/installer framework prioritising local businesses, 2) creating a viable business model for a one-stop-shop for retrofit advice and support.

Green skills Mapping and Trusted Trader Network - Engagement with Local Businesses

NSA will be conducting 1 to 1 interviews with local suppliers and installers; those currently working in the domestic retrofit area as well as those who currently are delivering more traditional trades to explore their willingness to be part of a trusted green traders’ network. These discussions with local businesses will also help to identify green skills gaps, and training requirements.

This work will complement the work Parity Projects who have been engaged by Perth and Kinross Council to understand the requirements for a potential one-stop-shop retrofit model to support the decarbonisation of the region's homes. A key part of their work will be engaging with the local supply chain to understand their current thoughts on the domestic retrofit market and how a retrofit one-stop-shop can help them develop their businesses both now and in the future.

Connecting Regional Travel

The Connecting Regional Travel theme will investigate the viability of two new services focusing on the rural town of Aberfeldy. One will look at an express bus route out of the town to Perth, and another will concentrate on a minibus service connecting surrounding villages with Aberfeldy. Work will also look at synchronising bus schedules with vital destinations like healthcare facilities or train stations, provision of express bus services and feasibility of peer-to-peer transport services. Additionally, it will investigate reduced-cost fare options to stimulate demand and encourage a shift in commuting patterns, ultimately striving to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

We will maximise knowledge transfer through extensive monitoring and evaluation, working in collaboration with external partners to ensure that our findings and associated learnings are disseminated across the UK, reaching local government, businesses and community groups.

The theme will focus on the Perth & Kinross local authority area, with a particular focus on the communities of Aberfeldy and Blairgowrie.

Road Map - Key Outputs

Theme 1 – Revitalising Homes

Through the Revitalising Homes part of the project, the concept is to take an innovative whole system approach aimed at catalysing a step change in the pace of decarbonisation of the housing stock across Perth and Kinross. The elements for development include:

  • Develop a one-stop shop retrofit model with a five-year business plan, covering retrofit advice, planning support and a framework for local suppliers;
  • Develop a trusted traders' network;
  • Map current business capacity and identifying green skills training requirements and solutions;
  • Investigate the potential of a circular economy equipment leasing and end of life disposal models;
  • Change the grant reclaim model to pay suppliers/installers directly;

Theme 2 – Connecting Regional Transport

Through the Connecting Regional Transport part, the concept is to explore whether a concentrated focus on multi-modal sustainable transport in a rural area is sufficient to generate a sufficient behavioural shift necessary to make these sustainable in the long-term. The elements for development include:

  • Engage with householders to establish a baseline of community needs (survey) to match user demand to services and products
  • Investigate with bus operators the possibility of developing local fare zones
  • Explore the feasibility and develop a financial model for the EV community minibus
  • Explore the feasibility and operability of working with the NHS on embedding active travel
  • Explore options and appetite for liftshare and peer-to-peer car sharing

Potential Impact

  • It will develop models for replicable and scalable solutions with real world testing that is, applicable to both rural and urban communities across the UK;
  • Each house could reduce energy expenditure by 60% - over £1100 per household per year.
  • It is likely to succeed -- founded on strong strands of community engagement, with trusted community delivery partners;
  • Lead to health and wellbeing impacts and support the NHS on their net zero journey;
  • Help accelerate the green transition and build community resilience;
  • The expertise of the team -- pulling together the necessary public, private, academic and third sector;
  • Establishing a trusted traders' network will encourage future improvements be contracted boosting the local economy - every retrofit house represents an investment of £12k-£20k
  • Real world testing of transferability of models
  • The transformational potential of the project provides additional value for money for PKC including:
    • Advance and accelerate on-going work and provide a step-change towards meeting net zero and statutory energy and emissions targets;
    • Revitalising homes will provide the next step for communities towards action, building on the free home-energy advice PKC already fund;
    • An opportunity to build stronger community relationships and partnerships that are aligned with the Perth and Kinross Offer to communities.

Who Are Innovate UK

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is the UK’s innovation agency. They work to create a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. With an annual budget of over £1billion they provide businesses with the expertise, facilities and funding they need to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth.


We’re working towards making homes more energy-efficient by providing homeowners and landlords with advice about retrofitting energy saving measures and connecting them with qualified contractors.

If you’re a local business engaged in the retrofitting space or an advocacy group who offers energy-saving advice come along to one of our workshops in Perth on Tuesday 28th May.

Register for business workshop:

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