When WER ratings were introduced, this looked to be a great new selling tool. It would help companies differentiate themselves from their competitors and try to boost sales. The industry had a shiny new toy, yet most didn’t want to play with it.
Then, at the beginning of this year, the BFRC announced the option for installers to register their products in their own name so they could obtain an energy ratings certificate with their name on the top. Obviously there was a price to pay, hundreds in fact. So as you can imagine, there wasn’t a massive uptake from that initiative. But there was never going to be. Having an installers name on a WER certificate was never going to have any selling advantage.
So, come Summer, we had the Part L decisions to digest. And lo and behold, the decision makers thought it would be a novel idea that for installers to show energy efficiency compliance, they HAD TO HAVE one of these WER certificates. How handy is that!? Just weeks after the BFRC announced the option to put installers’ name at the top of their certificates, it’s suddenly announced that it’s now law, and we would have to pay for it!! Who’s been scratching who’s back I ask!
Still, we seemed to handle that OK, and just got on with the business at hand. But a few started to look at the science behind it all, and how the BFRC had come up with their results. Champion of this was Kevin Ahern. His main quarrel was with how the solar gain factor was calculated, and especially how north facing areas were factored into their equations. But, after repeated requests to Giles Wilson, his questions returned unanswered. This for me is where this whole scheme started to unravel, and quickly. The whole credibility of the scheme was brought into question and the very fathers of the scheme couldn’t come out and defend it.
This rumbled off for a while, and was replaced with the short, sharp rejection of the DGCOS – another ombudsman scheme a tired, clogged up industry didn’t need. But before long Part L changes were the main topic of discussion – mainly doors this time and how they were going to be passed. We thought that doors 50% glazed or more had to have a U-Value of 1.8 or less. Hence the rush and panic to get all the industry’s doors tested in time.
Then, over the weekend on the GlassTalk website, Quorn Conservatories received this letter from FENSA:
Compliance Against a Minimum U Value
a) Simple Method
If you are installing a PVC or a timber and the frame is fitted with sealed units which make use of soft-coat Low E Glass, warm edge spacer (minimum 16mm) and 90% argon gas, Then FENSA will consider without further evidence that the U value of 1.6 has been achieved i.e there will be no need to provide further evidence to the consumer or to the FENSA inspector, providing there is no evidence to suggest that our assumption is incorrect. (In timber windows the depth of the frame from front to back must be a minimum of 70mm).
Up until this, we were all under the impression we had to either have a WER certificate showing a C rating or better, or a similar piece of paper showing a U-Value of 1.6 or better. But according to what FENSA have said above, we don’t need any sort of paperwork to prove this, we just have to let them know we are fitting windows to that standard if they want to drop in for one of their checks.
So, where are we now? Basically, thousands of companies have spent thousands of pounds testing dozens of products to obtain certificates to show compliance, only for FENSA to tell us right at the very last minute that we don’t need all that!
What message is this going to send out to all the clowns and cowboys in this industry! They are still going to be able to get away with fitting a load of old shite, passing it off as efficient and get away with it. While others have been playing to the supposed new rules and gone down the certification route, for it all to be a waste of time money and resources.
BFRC, GGF, FENSA – you should all hang your heads in shame. You’ve conned money out of the companies that you were supposed to be helping. I’ve been in this industry for just over four years full time, and have heard about some of the things that have gone on in our proud industry. I kept faith in industry bodies that everyone was saying were corrupt, but I ignored them, and it turns out foolishly. Your actions and handling of this whole episode show a complete lack of understanding about the industry you represent. The industry was never ready for this sort of upheaval, but you knew that. You knew that if you made certification law, installers would just simply hand money over to line your pockets.
All I can say is well done. You’ve managed to piss off an entire industry, and to alienate it even more. If you were to tell me a million times that what I have just alleged is wrong, I still would not believe a single word. You’ve lost yourself a member of the younger generation that will one day soon take the place of those in position now.