A guest blog for Master Builder magazine by Malcolm McMahon – Sustainable Building Consultant for Futureproof and The Green Register, Founder of Greenheart Sustainable Consturction Ltd.
As we slowly emerge from the Covid-19 health crisis, it’s a good time to re-evaluate whether we should try to resume ‘business as usual’ in the construction sector – or use the pause in activity as an opportunity to work differently.
The media has been quick to pick up discussion on ‘green economic recovery’ and the FMBs own Chief Executive, Brian Berry, met with the Energy Minister recently to participate in industry dialogue on how we can build sustainably for the future.
The FMB has also been calling for a national retrofit programme to help support builders in re-establishing their position in the marketplace, whilst forging change in practices for a low-carbon future.
Although retrofit is still an emerging part of construction, government, local authorities and trade bodies recognise that the carbon emission targets that have been set cannot be reached without dealing with the poor state of Britain’s existing housing stock.
To reduce carbon emissions to target levels, we need to retrofit about 26 million homes, many of which were built pre-1940. Up to 80% of the houses we will be occupying in 2050 already exist and a co-ordinated national retrofit program will be required to tackle the gigantic challenge ahead.
Central to this strategy should be the ‘whole house approach’ to retrofit – a comprehensive home improvement plan that enables a home to run at optimal energy efficiency and with all measures to manage issues such as moisture, ventilation and air quality in balance with one another. Using such an approach takes a property from its current state to net-zero energy demand in one step and avoids shallow, one-off measures that may need revising within two decades.
There is clearly a skills gap in the UK construction industry, especially when it comes to the more niche aspects of retrofit. However, as we head out of lockdown, there’s an opportunity for contracting firms of all sizes to grasp the chance to ‘reflect, rethink and reset’; to gain more knowledge and to advance ahead of the curve, armed with skills for a low-carbon future.
Contractors who enhance their skills now will prove more resilient to the uncertain times ahead. It is only a matter of time before sustainable retrofit becomes the norm and those who increase their knowledge of best practice in sustainable construction will lead the way, inspiring confidence in their clients and the industry as they go.
Gaining extra skills can empower contractors to become the suppliers of information which allows clients to make positive choices in home retrofit. As an industry, let us reach for the best possible outcome; work completed to the highest possible standard for energy-efficient homes with a lower impact on the planet. And that all starts with knowledge.
Futureproof retrofit training for contractors delivered by The Green Register is currently available for builders working in the West of England region and will be available widely across the UK from Autumn 2020.
What’s involved in Toolbox Training
To begin with, a Trained Futureproof Associate Builder will call to understand what kind of information and topics you want to cover and to arrange a time that suits you.
Our trainers can either make a site visit (while adhering to social distancing measures and wearing appropriate PPE) or to deliver the session via video call.
Topics and issues you can get help with include; external and internal wall insulation, moisture control, sustainable water use, best practice rooflight installation, airtightness, ventilation and material choices.
Once you’ve done the training we can add your information to our online registrar. Your sustainably trained credentials will be an asset as we have a large customer base looking for builders with this knowledge and skills.