Opinion: Avoiding the high costs of low carbon energy initiatives
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Environment and also in Housing
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With a growing focus on low carbon energy initiatives in the residential sector, Tony Howard, head of new business at CITB looks at the schemes and legislation that social housing providers should consider when procuring construction teams, in order to avoid negative cost and time implications.
For social housing providers, low carbon has been a key area of focus for maintaining and retrofitting their housing stocks for some time now. Whether it’s to comply with recent changes to building regulations, or to take advantage of new ‘green’ technologies, or simply to help move their tenants out of fuel poverty, it is key that the construction teams they procure have the right skills and accreditations to undertake this growing type of work.
There are a number of opportunities for social housing providers to bring energy efficiencies and cost savings for them and their tenants. One such example is the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which will be rolled out in spring 2014. This scheme offers home owners the opportunity to earn money for energy they generate at their property through renewable sources.
However, the installation of these technologies – including ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers – will require installers with Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) or equivalent qualifications. To take advantage of the scheme, social housing providers must ensure that they procure installers with these certifications, and that they are qualified to install the technologies properly and safely.
Smart metering, which is due for a wholesale rollout from 2015, can provide more accurate meter readings and allows tenants to better manage their energy use. Social Landlords wishing to implement this technology should look to installers that can demonstrate their understanding of the Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice, and possess a technical qualification in smart metering – which gives them the training required not only to install but also maintain the meter systems.
The government’s flagship Green Deal also still represents an opportunity to be explored for social landlords, as well as the concurrent ECO scheme. But as with these other schemes, certain qualifications will be required of firms who want to work under the Green Deal banner. Social landlords should look for firms registered as having PAS 2030 certification.
These schemes and technologies offer great opportunities to social landlords to enable a ‘greener’ environment for their tenants as well as providing further fiscal benefits and low carbon skills will be essential in meeting the requirements of Government legislation.
In July of this year, Government announced long awaited changes to Part L of Building Regulations, concerning the conservation of fuel and power. These changes will require new domestic dwellings to be 6% more energy efficient than was required by 2010 Building Regulations, and will also affect the retrofit of existing houses, including allowable areas for windows and doors and the insulation values of various building elements.
It is important for social housing providers that construction teams carrying out this work on their behalf are able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills to work within these regulations or ultimately they will risk non-compliance – which could prove costly to put right.
Find out more
For social housing providers the Cut the Carbon portal, at www.cutcarbon.info, is a useful tool to keep abreast of developments in low carbon construction and learn what they need to know to ensure work on their housing stock is carried out by the right firms. For construction firms hoping to win low carbon work the portal can offer support, information on training courses available and updates on government legislation.
As part of a UK and EU wide push for a greener built environment, social housing providers must play their part. Low carbon measures represent a great opportunity, but this work must be carried out by trained tradesmen. Taking steps to understand what is required of construction teams they procure will help social landlords to reap the benefits of a greener housing stock.
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