Government’s new energy plan needs to work alongside innovations in construction, says Actis
Plans announced by the government and Ofgem to invest in smarter, more flexible methods of generating and using energy need to work alongside innovative ways of ensuring homes are as energy efficient as possible, says insulation specialist Actis.
The comments follow the launch on Monday of the Upgrading our Energy Systems – Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan by business secretary Greg Clarke, who says its implementation will help consumers save up to £40bn by 2050.
Innovative Approach to Energy Generation
Actis UK and Ireland commercial director Mark Cooper welcomed the innovative approach to energy generation and usage. He said this ‘outside the box’ thinking echoed sentiments in the recent Farmer Review of the Construction Labour Model which challenged the building industry to radically rethink how it operates in order to survive.
“Innovation in energy generation and use has to go hand in hand with innovative new ways of creating the homes in which consumers will use this energy,” he explained
Commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the report’s author Mark Farmer said construction should be more like a car factory production line, with every section deliverable to a pre-determined quality standard.
Mark Cooper continued:
“We at Actis have been at the forefront of new technologies for a number of years with our innovative insulation products. The industry as a whole needs to take a broader approach to ensure energy efficiency standards continue to improve and to address immediate and medium term issues such as a shortage of skilled labour and a huge need for more housing.
“We are among those pushing for more focus on offsite construction whose build speed, and the relative ease with which timber frame houses can be constructed, is vital at a time when the country is in dire need of additional housing and when the number of skilled workers is dwindling.”
“For maximum effectiveness, the government’s smart energy plan also needs to be combined with a concerted effort to ensure consumers are fully aware of the new options open to them. For example, they need to understand that not only will new technologies help them save money when using domestic appliances, but that when it comes to heating, the first line of defence against energy wastage is to ensure the physical envelope of their home is energy efficient. Better to have a home which retains the heat in the first place than one heated by renewables which leak out through the walls and roof as fast as you can say solar PV panel….”
Phil Clabburn Self-Builder
This combination of maximising fabric energy efficiency and minimising financial outgoings is illustrated by an Isle of Wight self builder whose primary aim was to protect his purse from the utility companies.
Phil Clabburn insulated his 1900 sq ft traditionally styled timber frame home with Actis Hybris and insulating vapour control layer H Control Hybrid to ensure a thermally efficient shell, while installing a wood pellet burner, rainwater recovery system, solar thermal panel and LED lighting.
Phil explained: “My objective was not to go all eco and save the planet and do a Kevin McCloud. It was simply to save ourselves from the utility companies! Looking at the project scientifically, I had some key objectives I wanted to achieve – mega insulation, low energy usage and low water consumption. This has been achieved by simple technologies, not complicated, expensive ones which consume lots of electricity!”
Ardenvale Ltd Hen House to Cottage Conversion
Solihull-based Ardenvale Ltd chose to use products from the Actis Hybrid range when it converted a 10,000 sq ft 1940s one time hen house into a selection of one and two bedroom cottages.
It chose insulating vapour control layer H Control Hybrid for the walls and 45mm honeycomb style insulation Hybris, H Control Hybrid and multifoil TS10+ for the roofs – for their combination of thermal efficiency and thinness. The properties also benefit from underfloor heating provided via an air source heat pump.