December 7, 2015

Empty gestures must not dominate solid wall ambitions

A new market could emerge in the form of solid wall insulation (SWI) as industry campaigners seek to overturn its fortunes.

They say poor installation standards and regulations, combined with a lack of funding initiatives, are denting the chances of retrofits, despite SWI presenting an opportunity to cut carbon emissions.

The views are compiled in a report entitled ‘Unlocking Demand and Driving Up Standards’, commissioned by the Green Construction Board.

Peter Bonfield, chief executive of Building Research Establishment (BRE) has backed the recommendations. Construction Manager (CM), the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building, reported that Mr Bonfield also suggested there was a mood in the industry to move towards tighter regulation on SWI, backed by incentive measures.

“The industry has been let down by people who aren’t competent and aren’t policed properly. It feels like this is the moment where enough things have gone wrong to harness the collective energy and to ask what it takes to make things better.”

The report says that there are 15.5m homes in the UK without cavity walls, of which 3.5m fall into categories that are most suitable for SWI, mainly older housing stock built before 1964.

The report’s author, the government’s chief construction adviser Peter Hansford, told CM: “[SWI] has been poorly applied in inappropriate situations with an insufficient level of skills. We want to give the industry a consistent framework under which it can grow and drive up standards and expertise.”

Adam Davis, a Palmers partner who specialises in construction matters, said: “Any opportunity to tap into an emerging market brings considerations of growth and a range of associated issues. To find out how our experience of the sector can help you, please contact us.”