Seven months after the implementation of the updated Building Regulations, which have seen lower minimum U-Values and mandatory trickle vents to all windows, I am still seeing plenty of complaints and anger towards the new rules.
Whilst I can understand people’s frustration with the new regulations, I’m afraid I have to be blunt and say that the time for complaining and calling for action has long gone.
The truth of the matter is that any failure to influence the Government is on us. You are a product of your own environment, as the saying goes, and our industry is certainly guilty of inertia when it comes to engaging with authorities on new rules.
No collective voice
I was recently told that during the consultation period before the Government made their final decisions on the new regulations, about 85% of the respondents to that consultation were social housing companies and others similar to that. Only a fraction of those who responded was from our industry.
What do we expect to happen if we as a sector are unable to collect ourselves in significant numbers to coalesce behind a single position and communicate that to the Government? With such poor engagement in the consultation, we appear to the Government that we simply cannot be bothered.
Our industry, as is always the case with these things, buried its head in the sand and hoped that someone else would do the work. Installers hoped their fabricators would respond. Fabricators hoped systems companies would respond. Turns out barely any of us bothered at all.
If we did not take part in the process, then we cannot complain about the end results. It’s like any vote or election in politics. If you did not vote or did not take part, then you can’t complain. It makes those complaints hollow.
We already know that the impression the Government has of our sector is very poor. The longer we continue to moan about something which we did not engage with properly, the longer it will continue to look like we’re throwing the toys out of the pram and not taking ourselves seriously. I’ll be frank, it no longer matters whether you think the rules are right or not. There is no prospect of these new rules being revised or changed any time soon. We can kick and stomp all we want. It won’t have any influence.
2025 is an opportunity
We complain that we’re often left out of Government schemes, like ECO+ and the Green Homes Grant. Until we shape up and act with cohesion and look like a professional sector to the powers that be, that won’t change.
However, we have a golden opportunity with the Future Building Standard being enacted in 2025 to show Government, and indeed the wider public, that fenestration is a forward-thinking and proactive industry.
As you may or may not know, the Future Building Standard, along with new revisions to Building Regulations, are designed to reduce the carbon footprint of our homes and help the Government meet a series of climate goals by 2030. It will see minimum U-Values fall from 1.4W/m²K to just 0.8W/m²K. We cannot rely on the Government to back down and water this down in any way. As I wrote about earlier this week, there is going to be huge amounts of investment needed to bring our sector’s products up to speed with these new levels, as well as bringing new products to market.
We have to see 2025 as an opportunity. This is a chance for us to demonstrate to the public that we are ready and able to provide products that will help them reduce their energy bills even further and cut down on carbon emissions. It’s a fantastic chance to upsell to a better product with a tangible benefit, in a climate where there is an intense focus on energy bills and sustainability.
This is also a chance to show the Government that we can get on board with this. Not argue. Not fight to water it down. But to step up to the challenge, commit to proper investment in our products and for once, come together as a sector behind a common position and move forwards in a professional manner.
I sincerely hope that we do not do what we always do and fight against change and progress. Rather than pressure the Government to water down any of their new proposals, I want us as a sector to meet whatever the new targets are going to be set. It will mean investment, millions of pounds. Lots of time and plenty of effort. Something which in reality should have already begun, considering we’re only two years out from these new rules.
So let’s try and be a little bit more ambitious and a little less petty and perhaps we may begin to sway a few minds within the Government.
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