Major government review recommends sweeping changes to energy efficiency retro-fit market

09 February 2017

The UK Government has just published its Each Home Counts review. This review (aka ‘the Bonfield review’) began in 2015 to consider issues surrounding the retrofitting of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures into our homes.

Walsall Estate

The review was undertaken due to concerns that badly installed insulation measures were causing problems with damp and resulting in failure to deliver the expected energy savings. Newspapers, TV and radio were running stories on problem homes and MPs were asking questions in Parliament. Government Ministers in Westminster had had enough and demanded that something be done to protect the consumer.

Although problems with insulation are rare, it was clear that changes were needed to make the retrofit market’s poorly performing ‘bad apples’ raise their standards to acceptable levels.

ROCKWOOL engaged extensively with the review to ensure that the insulation industry puts its house in order and restores confidence in insulation measures, which is critical to the health of the market. 

We’re pleased to be able to say that the publication of the Government’s Each Home Counts review is an important step in the right direction. The review’s key proposal is to introduce a Quality Mark for the design and installation of all energy efficiency measures, which will include:

 

  • A consumer charter, which will include clear redress procedures for customers with problems.
  • A robust code of conduct for all companies operating in this sector.
  • New technical standards and codes of practice for the design and installation of measures.
  • An information hub for both consumers and industry to access best practice.
  • A data warehouse to allow access to better data on individual homes.
  • Improved engagement with consumers, raising awareness.
  • Better training to build up knowledge and competences within industry.
  • Stronger monitoring, compliance and enforcement to ensure poor quality work is dealt with effectively.

 

The publication of the review is only the first step on a much longer journey - continuing media coverage of problem homes is a stark reminder of this. We have considerable work ahead to develop the Quality Mark scheme and the extensive framework of processes and approvals needed to support it.

ROCKWOOL is continuing to engage with the Government, the industry and the scientific community in this work, which is expected to take around two years. For example, ROCKWOOL is currently playing a major role in the revision of the ‘PAS’ standards, which installers must comply with when undertaking work on Government home retro-fit schemes, such as ECO.

Significant changes already in the pipeline for the next phase of ECO starting in May relate to design, building surveys, training and site inspections. The new PAS rules for all ECO work will place challenging requirements on installers to check that every aspect of the insulation measures they fit has been adequately designed and that it is clear where design liability lies. The minimum number of properly trained and certified installers and supervisors required on each site will increase and more site inspections will be undertaken by independent monitors to catch the poor performers.

Looking further ahead, it’s likely to be a very busy two years before the Quality Mark itself will be ready to be launched, but once it does, we can look forward to building:

 

  • A level playing field where corner-cutting companies will be forced to raise their performance or be forced out of the industry
  • Government support for our industry
  • Renewed consumer confidence

 

ROCKWOOL believes that this is a fantastic step forward for the insulation industry. It is for this reason that we have engaged with the process and are supporting it as much as we can. The next two years will be very busy for all involved, but the end result will be hugely beneficial to the industry as a whole.