A new and greener journey for the construction sector

The Government’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050 is a welcome one, but there is no doubt, it is a massive challenge.

construction2 image source : Photo by Mike from Pexels

The only way to have a realistic chance of meeting the deadline is to drive the improvement of the energy efficiency of the homes we already have.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is the Government’s scheme to help reduce carbon emissions, tackle fuel poverty and create healthier environments for those living in the property. 

The latest version - ECO3 - effective from 1 January 2020 requires registration with TrustMark, the only Government Endorsed Quality scheme, which was developed based on the recommendations from the Each Home Counts Review. 

Installers operating within ECO, completing energy improvements on people’s homes, must abide by the requirements for TrustMark registration and meet the requirements imposed by the TrustMark Framework Operating Requirements. ECO3 has also placed a regulatory requirement for work to be lodged into the TrustMark Data Warehouse after completion, providing a full audit trail and greater levels of protection to the consumer.

Alongside the implementation of TrustMark, the regulations include the updated whole house approach, which is coming into effect through PAS 2030:2019 and PAS 2035:2019.

PAS 2030:2019, the new industry specification replacing PAS 2030:2017, is inextricably linked to PAS 2035:2019. It is the new overarching document in the retrofit standards framework. It drives the 'whole house approach' including the 'fabric first' methodology when retrofitting dwellings, better defining qualification and responsibility of the individual retrofit roles and the respective activities required prior to and after the commencement of the physical installation. PAS 2035 isn’t just for ECO, it is a methodology that can be adopted across any domestic energy efficiency retrofit project to drive efficiency and quality.

This is incredibly important given around 80% of homes we will be using in 2050 are already standing, so over the next 30 years we need to be upgrading around 24 million homes to improve energy efficiency. Improving the building fabric envelope, for example, by installing wall, floor or loft insulation, improving ventilation and then considering how to make improvements to the heating sources will be part of the process. With this in mind it is absolutely critical we do the right things to the right properties, in the right order and to the right quality. Just replacing an outdated heating system or just installing new double glazing in isolation will not be sufficient in the vast majority of cases to make the wins needed.

The introduction of the newly defined retrofit roles of Retrofit Coordinator, Retrofit Advisor, Retrofit Assessor, Retrofit Designer and Retrofit Evaluation under the new PAS 2035 specification, will be key in determining the priority of the retrofit journey and working with the property owner and the installer to ensure the highest technical standards and professionalism are delivered.

There is no doubt that this is a big change for the industry and therefore transitional arrangements are needed to support the business uptake of the new specifications. This period will last until 30 June 2021 after which time all businesses carrying out work within ECO must be certified to PAS 2030:2019 and comply with PAS 2035:2019. This also applies to those delivering work outside the scope of ECO but where compliance is claimed with these PAS specifications.

The changes to ECO3 have been both welcomed and challenged by different areas of the construction industry. At TrustMark, we believe ECO3 incorporating PAS 2035 is the start of an important journey for the industry that will result in positive, impactful change for both consumers and tradespeople. The delivery of ECO3 is only part of the developing market that will be driven by climate change.

Our advice to any business operating within ECO is to ensure they fully understand the requirements of the new specifications. If unsure, seek guidance from their Scheme Provider. Alternatively, further information is available on the TrustMark website.

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