The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has given a cautious welcome to the government’s strategy for spending up to £2.5 billion on improving the energy efficiency of homes and public sector buildings.
The Association said the investment “could be an important step towards meeting energy security and carbon reduction goals, but only if it was focused on the long-term performance of buildings and not confined to one-off installations”.
The funding was announced last September but the government has now published details of how £630 million will be spent through its Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) for privately owned properties, and £780 million via the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, for homes owned by local authorities and other social housing providers.
Social housing will also benefit from a further £1.1 billion of match funding from local authorities, social housing providers and charities.
The government believes its scheme will provide energy efficiency improvements for 115,000 homes with an EPC rating of C or lower and will support 20,000 construction and home retrofit jobs.
Forty-six per cent of UK housing has an EPC rating of C or above, up from nine per cent in 2008 – with 66 per cent of social housing said to meet that standard, according to government figures. Legislation requiring all homes to achieve a C rating by 2035 is also under consideration.
A further £409 million will be spent through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme divided between 114 English public sector bodies aiming to improve the energy efficiency of hospitals, schools, universities, museums, and leisure centres. This is part of the UK’s commitment to reduce emissions from public sector buildings by 75 per cent by 2037.
The funding will be available from April for measures including insulation of lofts and walls, new windows and doors and draft proofing measures, as well as the installation of heat pumps and solar panels.
BESA’s Technical Director Graeme Fox commented: “This is significant and important funding, it could make a huge difference to the overall performance of the built environment, but only if the measures have a whole lifecycle focus.
“It is not enough to carry out one-off installations. We must look at how any retrofit measures are maintained and serviced throughout their lifetime, so they continue to meet their potential for long-term energy and carbon savings.
“This will also require a major step up of investment in training and recruitment to ensure we have a suitably competent workforce capable of taking on this considerable challenge.”
With the current economic crisis resulting in higher prices and more of a squeeze on resources, FMs need to ensure that they have robust building and maintenance services in place to control costs and reduce the need for emergency repairs. When it comes to drainage and plumbing there are also the challenges of dealing with extreme weather, from droughts to flooding, the need to meet stringent regulations and to avoid causing environmental damage.
UK drainage specialist, Metro Rod, has launched a survey which explores the main areas of interest for FMs in maintaining drainage and plumbing, including how they currently assess their supply chains to ensure they’re working with partners that meet the highest possible standards and provide value for money.
The results will be published online so that you can see how you compare to others within the sector.
The survey should take just 5-10 minutes of your time, and as a thank you, you will be entered into a prize draw, where one lucky winner will be picked at random to receive a £100 Amazon voucher.
To take part click here.