The idea of a quality mark for all energy efficiency measures is explained here by the British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association (BRUFMA)
There is no question that energy efficiency measures must be delivered to a very high standard. Consumer confidence, value for money and installed performance equalling expected performance, will all be crucial if the government-commissioned, but now industry led, independent review of energy efficiency, Each Home Counts, is to be successful.
The report proposes raising the minimum acceptable standard that operates across the domestic energy retrofitting landscape to ensure that thermal insulation measures deployed are of high quality, in the right properties and installed to a suitable standard.
Although the Each Home Counts review is only one of many attempts to address the energy efficiency of our built environment, it is currently the only serious option and therefore warrants our full support. One of its principal recommendations, which is of huge importance, is the introduction of a ‘Quality Mark’ for all energy efficiency measures as well as for all those who operate in the sector.
One of the challenges with existing buildings is identifying what energy efficient measures are needed for any given property, which places huge importance in the upfront assessment of a building. It is imperative therefore that the process deploys skilled people who understand what they are looking at, can interpret the information correctly and are then able to recommend the appropriate energy improvement measures.
Dr Howard Porter, Chair of the Each Home Counts Implementation Board, has said there is already a great deal of work going into an agreed cross-industry, quality philosophy, with a quality assurance board looking at installers, specifiers and owner/operators. According to him, the aim is not to eliminate compliance schemes, but rather ensure they offer a consistent level of quality, as the current evidence shows a massive variation in the level of quality that different schemes provide, from the very good, to the not very good.
There is already a lot of information available on the energy efficiency of dwellings, but it is spread across several different databases, held by different government agents, departments, and private companies. The aim is to come up with an efficient way to provide installers or companies who are quality marked, with access to the data, including with customer approval, which in time could extend to include smart meter data.
The idea proposes the concept of a ‘data safe installer/specifier/operator’, who can be fully trusted to access information about the property or smart metering data. If this works, the Quality Mark could deliver a consistent level of quality, from which a more nuanced or specific level of advice can be provided to the householder, local authority or landlord.
Along with a proposed information hub, which will provide energy advice within the digital world, the Quality Mark is expected to be backed by a new set of energy efficiency refurbishment standards, which the BSI is currently working on.
The bottom line for the industry and the UK as a whole is that this kind of change in mindset is essential if we are to make a major dent in the challenge of significantly raising the energy efficiency performance of our existing housing stock. Our shame of fuel poverty, which places us way down the European league table, will be addressed not just by the amount we pay for our energy but more importantly how much we actually use to maintain comfortable living standards in all weather conditions.
British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association (BRUFMA)
Tel: +44 (0)161 672 7387