FMB to offer Green Deal Installer Certification from Sept 2012.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is launching FMB Certification, a ‘complete solution’ registration and certification service to companies committed to delivering the highest standards of customer service and workmanship in the building industry. The FMB is pleased to be able to offer these services through a new agreement with NAPIT Group Limited, a UKAS accredited certification body for Green Deal, microgeneration and Competent Person Schemes.

FMB Certification will offer Green Deal Installer Certification for companies that want to be part of the growing energy saving refurbishment market. The Green Deal will allow the owners of homes and businesses to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties at no upfront cost, and will be supported by a new Energy Company Obligation to help deliver energy efficiency and heating measures across Great Britain, where they are most needed. In total, the Green Deal and ECO are expected to drive significant levels of spending on energy efficiency over the next decade creating new work for companies in the building industry.

Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive, said:

“The Green Deal is an exciting prospect for the building industry and will create new business opportunities for a wide variety of trades, but companies must be approved to carry out work under the Green Deal scheme and that’s where FMB Certification comes in. As the Green Deal takes off we expect Green Deal certification to become a recognised mark of high quality service and workmanship among homeowners and other clients. The FMB has been providing information and training to its members to ensure they have the skills and knowledge required for Green Deal work and now they can prove it by becoming an approved installer with FMB Certification.”

Berry continued:

“FMB Certification will also offer Competent Person Scheme Registration and Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Installer Certification. This means we can provide a complete solution certification service to companies seeking new opportunities across a range of disciplines and building types. It is important to remember that there are plenty of excellent builders in the UK but proving it isn’t always easy. Our aim is to help smaller companies to do just this by managing all of their certification needs.”

FMB Certification will start to process applications from September 2012. Interested businesses can register their interest now to receive a priority application pack without any obligation by visiting www.fmb.org.uk/certification, emailing certification@fmb.org.uk or calling 020 7092 3881.

Green Deal Needs a Radical Boost to Succeed, warns Federation of Master Builders

Yesterdays, press release from the FMB illustrates the frustation developing within Green Deal and hindering preparation for Green Deal and addressing the requirements of PAS 2030 and Code of Practice.

These are the same frustrations I hear from green deal related workshops I am engaged in, on one hand their is promise of work, the biggest home and property improvement programme since the 2nd world war, and on the other hand far too much confusion. The result is that many contractors and installers who do the scope of measures to be covered by Green Deal are just not engaging, playing the green deal or not green deal waiting game.

Danger, is of course that when green deal does go live there will not be many accredited (PAS 2030 etc) contractors and installers available

FMB Press Release reads:

The Government’s Green Deal initiative to makes our homes more energy efficient is in danger of failing at the first hurdle unless it provides a range of additional incentives to encourage householders to take it up, warns the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in its response to the Government’s Green Deal consultation, which closes on Wednesday (18th January 2012).

Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said:
“With rising energy bills there is an urgent need to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock as it is far less energy efficient than that of our European neighbours’. However, householders will need to be convinced of the value of retrofitting their home particularly when the price is having a new charge attached to their electricity bill. The quickest and easiest way to create consumer demand would be to reduce VAT on Green Deal improvements or reduce Stamp Duty.”

Berry continued:
“Another concern is how local building companies will be able to access the Green Deal given that few, if any, will become recognized Green Deal Providers because of the onerous conditions attached to providing the finance packages. This is a lost opportunity as it is the local builder who is best placed to advise householders about energy efficient improvements when they are carrying out other home improvements or repairs.

Berry added:
“The Government has rightly tacked the need to eliminate rogue traders by insisting on the need to have Green Deal accredited installers. Local builders already have many of the key skills in place to carry out energy efficiency improvements but now they need an operational accreditation framework that enables them to demonstrate their skills and knowledge at the standard required. The Government’s delay in approving recognised competency schemes is not helpful and swift action is needed if the building industry is going to be ready for the launch in October. We know that the Green Deal has the potential to create some 65,000 new construction jobs which is why it is so important that we have the training courses ready at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Berry concluded:
“We want the Green Deal to be a success but it won’t be unless the Government considers seriously the need to introduce fiscal incentives for homeowners, creates a level playing field to enable local building companies to access the market, and ensures that training courses are quickly approved to accredit local builders.”

Homeowners Unlikely to Take Advantage of Green Deal, warns FMB

Press release received this am from the Federation of Master Builders claims that almost 44% thought homeowners were unlikely to take advantage of the Green Deal when it launches in autumn 2012, and may not be not be the green revolution the Government hopes it will be

Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said:

The Government is hoping that its Green Deal will persuade homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient but almost 44% of our members, small building firms that are in contact with homeowners on a daily basis, think homeowners are unlikely to take advantage of it. If the Government wants the Green Deal to be a success it should start by offering additional incentives. 70% of respondents to our survey believe that cutting VAT to 5% on all energy efficient materials and work would increase homeowner interest. More than a quarter also believe that council tax reductions would be the biggest incentive for homeowners.

“Small, local building companies should be the natural choice for homeowners wanting to retrofit their property or make it more energy efficient. However, nearly half of FMB members are worried that they will be squeezed out of the Green Deal market by the major energy companies and retailers and 58% felt that it was either very unlikely or unlikely that small and medium sized building companies would see their workloads increase as a result of the Green Deal. The FMB is therefore calling on the Government to help small building companies have equal access to the energy efficiency market by allowing an independent third party financial provider to handle Green Deal finance packages. This would help ensure that small building companies can compete fairly with the larger companies who will be offering ‘one–stop-shops’ to consumers.”

“The critical issue is encouraging consumers to take up the Green Deal. What is very concerning is that the Energy Bill, which is the legal basis of the Green Deal, is not ambitious enough. The Bill needs to set out a clearer plan to bring the UK’s homes up to standard if it is to succeed in making our homes greener and more energy efficient. To create consumer demand for the Green Deal additional incentives such a cut in VAT for energy efficient works and a reduction in council tax for retrofitted homes are also needed. These incentives would help ensure that the Green Deal is a success and that the Government can achieve its stated aim to be ‘the greenest government ever’.”

For more information please visit: www.fmb.org.uk

UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow?

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has announced the panel of experts that will shape the Code for Sustainable Buildings to complement the government’s consultation on its target to make all new buildings zero-carbon from 2019.

The task group comprises:

• Bill Bolsover, chief executive, Aggregate Industries;
• John Connaughton, partner, Davis Langdon;
• Ian Coull, chief executive, Segro;
• John Frankiewicz, chief executive, Willmott Dixon;
• Alistair Guthrie, director, Ove Arup & Partners;
• Ken Hall, managing director, Prologis;
• Bill Hughes, managing director, Legal & General Property;
• Daniel Labbad, chief executive UK, Lend Lease;
• Sunand Prasad, president, RIBA; and
• Ant Wilson, business unit director, Faber Maunsell.

This group is impressive and will be influential, but I fear for the wrong reasons.

I cannot help but think we again fall into the trap of trying to solve today’s problem with the mindset that created them.(*) I have no problems with any individuals on this panel, indeed from their profiles scattered across the web, they are without doubt passionate and well informed on sustainability, but collectively do they represent too narrow a view of our industry.    It is appreciated that the task force will take evidence from sub groups and work groups, but at strategy level …

  • Where is the inclusion of small builders, the SME’s , the subcontractors from the bread/butter of the industry, where there is a mixture of struggling to understand green issues, some really great examples of grassroot initiatives but a dominant denial that we need to do anything at all. I would have thought a FMB or NFB inclusion would necessary.
  • Where is the mainstream facilities management expertise?  We are talking about sustainable buildings here – ie the use and life of the buildings, the interaction with the people who live and work in the buildings – not only the design and construction of the buildings.
  • Where are the training and educational representatives. Increasingly the educational and academic sector is the problem or barrier to us really moving forward on sustainability in the built environment, both on craft skills and professional knowledge.
  • Where are the younger generation or student representatives – from G4C (Generation for Collaboration) or Sponge for example. This is our comprised generation (from Brundtlands definition) who have brilliant ideas and very different values to mainstream, viewing the sector from the start of their careers…
  • Where are those with differing views to main stream construction and property – for example from the Transition movement, or the environmental movements
  • Where are the IT or Web experts, the research and technical innovators, as increasingly this will play an essential part in built environment sustainability.

The UKGBC have in the past stated that this Code would be an open source document which is the right way forward.  Lets hope that the panel adopts open source approach during the development as well as in the document itself.  This is an important issue for our sector and cannot be done behind closed doors. For example:

    • Open communication of meetings,  minutes and evidence considered.
    • how about a Codepedia – The Code posted to a wiki site to allow real consultation and collaboration, as the Code develops. See for example RIBApedia
    • Communication and dialogue through discussion forums, blogs or twitter on progress. (See for example the use of twitter by Downing Street, HM Government and others)

    Unfortunately unless there is a truly open and representative approach to the Code development, it will, like the Strategy for Sustainable Construction and the Code for Sustainable Homes be largley ignored, misunderstood or perceived irrelevant to those at the sharp end of the industry.

    (*) from Einsteins famous quote “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

    VAT hindering environmental improvements?

    Press release from Jayne Curtis over at FMB:

    MPs Deliver 10,000 ‘Cut the VAT’ Postcards to 11 Downing Street: Kate Hoey MP (Labour) and Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrat) have delivered a 10,000 signature strong petition to 11 Downing Street, calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to cut VAT from 17.5% to 5% for building repair and maintenance work. The demand to cut VAT comes at a time when the Government is failing to achieve its ambitious target to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050; when the number of people living in fuel poverty currently is still rising from the current figure of 4.5 million; and when thousands of consumers are being fleeced by rogue traders offering cash deals to avoid VAT on home improvements.

    The MPs were joined by three members of the Cut the VAT Coalition: Brian Berry of the Federation of Master Builders, Julia Goodwin of House Beautiful magazine, and Yvonne Orgill of the Bathroom Manufacturers’ Association. In the week that the one hundredth MP signed the Early Day Motion (EDM 669) calling on the Government to VAT for building repair and maintenance work MPs voiced their concerns.

    For more information please visit: www.fmb.org.uk

    Green Energy Revolution Needs Green Housing Revolution

    Press release from Jayne Curtis over at FMB:

    Green Energy Revolution Needs Green Housing Revolution, says Federation of Master Builders

    Today’s Government plans to move away from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and tidal power  as part of its green energy programme is a welcome initiative but we need an accompanying  green housing revolution if we are to cut carbon emissions and make our housing stock more energy efficient, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

    Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said:

    “The Government is failing to develop a coherent strategy about what to do with Britain’s existing housing stock. Given that homes are responsible for 27 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions and that nearly 70 per cent of our current housing will still be standing in 2050 urgent action is needed now to make our homes greener and more energy efficient.”

    Berry continued:

    “The Government’s leadership in tackling in new build needs to be matched with new initiatives and leadership about what it intends to do with our existing homes. We need a range of incentives to encourage householders to upgrade their homes. Cutting VAT from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent on energy efficient improvements would be a start as would reform of Stamp Duty and the introduction of Council Tax rebates. Given the Governments’ target to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 now is not the time to be dithering. We need a joined up strategy for all our housing and the time for that strategy is now!”

    For more information please visit: www.fmb.org.uk

    Eco town locations revealed – but is it all another greenwash?

    The government has released today the short list for Eco Towns, and they are:

    Bordon, Hampshire
    Coltishall, Norfolk
    Curborough, Staffordshire
    Elsenham, Essex
    Ford, West Sussex
    Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire
    Imerys, Cornwall
    Leeds city region, West Yorkshire
    Manby, Lincolnshire
    Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire
    Middle Quinton, Warwickshire
    Pennbury, Leicestershire
    Rossington, South Yorkshire
    Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire
    Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire
    isite has commented on the viability and concept of Eco-Towns on many occasions, and along with many on the blogosphere have suggested the way forward to be within the existing housing stock.  (Search Eco Towns in the search bar above) .
    So it is good to see organisations like the FMB’s Brian Berry, Director External Affair,  issueing statements, suggesting the eco town approach is a greenwash:
    “Eco –towns sound lovely but are really a red herring to give the Government’s housing plans a stamp of green credibility. The truth is we already know how to create sustainable homes as demonstrated by the BedZed affordable eco-homes in south London and the renewable energy theme park developed by Kiklees Borough Council in Yorkshire”.

    “Building brand new eco–towns outside existing settlements is really bad idea when there are 675,000 empty homes in England alone sitting empty, all ripe for refitting with green technologies. Given that demand for housing covers the whole of the UK it makes sense for every village and town to have new housing rather creating brand new settlements.”

    See also Marks comments on House2.0   where Mark comments ….  3 million new homes …the case for this is no stronger than it is for a third runway at Heathrow. And no greener.

    blog posted from Xda Orbit