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Insulate Magazine Issue 14 - January 2018

Featuring exclusive articles, standing out from the crowd, NIA conference review, keeping everything moving and Review, Reflect and Reset the new year edition of insulation provides a kick start to 2018...

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The only independent insulation industry trade magazine Insulate insulate Columnist columnist Review, Reflect and Reset 2018 is about Quality and Safety Sarah Kostense-Winterton Executive Director, MIMA As we say goodbye to 2017 and welcome in 2018 it is sobering and timely to review and reflect on the events of 2017 and firmly focus our attention on positive constructive change moving forward. As government acknowledges in its Clean Growth Strategy “higher quality, more energy efficient buildings are healthier places to live and work.” Healthy, comfortable and safe homes are just as important as energy performance and critical to our general happiness, health, wellbeing and education. We must grasp this positive message in 2018 and deliver on the opportunity for the development of a robust and detailed Buildings Energy Infrastructure Programme (BEIP), to improve the energy performance of the UK’s buildings going forward with quality and consumer safety at its heart. Buildings Energy Infrastructure Programme MIMA, with the EEIG, will be working hard with Government in 2018 on the overall programme plan for meeting the 2035 EPC C Band C target. Raising the Energy Performance, quality and safety of the UK’s building stock is no small challenge, but it is achievable when viewed as a long-term programme of infrastructure investment as set out in the EEIG-commissioned, Frontier Economics “Affordable Warmth, Clean Growth” report (https://www. This report highlights that cost-effective investments to raise the energy performance of UK housing to EPC Band C by 2035 could save around a further 25% of the energy currently used, an average saving of £270 per household per year at current energy prices. Using Treasury guidance for policy appraisal, this investment has an estimated net present value of £7.5 billion. Surely attractive to a Government keen to deliver on its Clean Growth Strategy commitments – aspirational or not! Greater assurance of fire safety performance 2018 provides an opportunity to ensure that world-leading safety standards, including fire safety standards, are adopted and applied at the heart of the new BEIP. Fire safety must be a paramount consideration in the design of new and the retrofit of existing buildings. A building is neither resilient overall, nor provides an adequate level of safety for its occupants if it is not fire resilient. A clear way to help improve fire resilience is to increase the use of building materials that are non-combustible. Specifying non-combustible products only, offers certainty to developers and future occupants that the building façade will offer the maximum protection against fire. Overall, building regulations must offer greater assurance of fire safe performance for occupants of both residential and non-residential buildings over 18 metres. The current regulations and guidance need to be made clearer, more stringent to avoid interpretations that can compromise public safety. Closer integration of the separate parts of the Building Regulations will also help build consumer confidence. Tackling cold homes Fuel poverty remains a serious problem. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is one of the most effective ways to tackle fuel poverty, as the measures installed create a lasting impact. Only a very small percentage of the country’s 8 million solid walls have been insulated, and around 5 million party walls are, as yet, un-insulated. Overall, solid wall properties make up less than a third of the housing stock yet half of all fuel poor households live in an un-insulated solid walled home. This situation needs to change. 24 In addition, from MIMA’s research the total estimated fuel bill cost to consumers from heat loss through party walls alone is around £465 million a year. Although a greater amount of progress has been made on insulating cavity walls and lofts, there are still millions which have not been treated or could benefit from being topped up. Government should be trialing Ireland’s “insulation on prescription” pilot to improve the living conditions of people living with chronic respiratory conditions, reduce the need for people to attend hospital and improve the overall living environment and ensure homeowners experience additional comfort levels in their homes. Raising standards in the private rented and social housing sector The Government aims to have as many private rented homes as possible being upgraded to EPC Band C by 2030, where “practical, cost-effective and affordable”, publishing the supporting consultation just before Christmas. This is a no brainer and raising existing mandatory minimum energy performance standards in the private rented sector from EPC Band E to Band D from 2025, with a view to reaching the EPC C target by 2035 is achievable by providing some financial support and/or tax relief to support landlords in making the necessary improvements. Driving real performance Measures installed to make buildings more energy efficient and comfortable, should work as intended. By doing so consumers see the energy performance they expect, and the UK saves the energy and carbon it needs to meet carbon budgets. We must minimise the “as-built” versus “as-designed” performance gap by driving higher standards of on-site installation through the introduction of a mandatory quality assurance standard covering design, on-site monitoring and installation. This must be combined with effective surveillance, policing and enforcement by the regulatory authorities with penalties for non-compliance. Technology advances should mean it should now be perfectly possible for products to be tracked from manufacture right through to installation, improving transparency for consumers and better enable the verification of performance. Lets start off 2018 with a strong start There is a challenging job ahead, but if you only commit to one New Year resolution then make that to work with the EEIG - “the key to the industry approach and success” according to a government official. We must ensure that progress secured in 2017 continues with momentum in 2018 - to drive and deliver positive change through a Buildings Energy Infrastructure Programme – alongside a greater focus on the quality and safety across the industry. Happy New Year all! Sarah Kostense-Winterton is Executive Director of MIMA, the Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association and provides the secretariat to the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG). For further details of the EEIG or if you would like to join, please contact Sarah at From 2020 the sector should be able to demonstrate that 90% of new homes meet or perform better than the designed energy/carbon performance. A commercially viable, and simple way to demonstrate a building’s as-built performance is urgently required, but we also believe there are companies working to develop such tests and methods. Having such tests could eventually allow Government to introduce post-completion thermal testing in a proportion of UK buildings. Overall, building regulations must offer greater assurance of fire safe performance for occupants of both residential and non-residential buildings over 18 metres. 25