National code of practice for retrofit on the horizon
This year will see the industry gearing up for a new national retrofit regime to deliver energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installations for the domestic sector. At its heart will be a new standards framework that will include a code of practice that will apply to designers as well as installers.
The blueprint is set out in the independent Bonfield review ‘Each Home Counts’, commissioned by the DCLG and the later dissolved DECC in 2015 and published with little fanfare just before Christmas.
Peter Caplehorn, Deputy Chief Executive and Policy Director at the Construction Products Association, and chair of the RIBA Regulations and Standards Group, is in no doubt that industry bodies and suppliers are taking the review’s recommendations at face value and working on implementation strategies to prepare for a national launch later this year.
Ministers are backing the review, although this will not be another Green Deal that the government underwrites, but rather it will be industry led.
A new national body will promote a quality mark for the domestic retrofit sector, a consumer charter and a code of conduct for the supply side.
Technical standards for products and installations will be defined and the approval process for those operating within the scheme will cover assessors, installers and designers.
‘The principle will be that retrofit should be a considered approach based on the whole building and the user’s needs and should be designed accordingly,’ says Caplehorn.
Caplehorn himself led the review’s working group on Insulation and Fabric, which produced the recommendation: 'All retrofit projects will have an appropriate design stage process which takes a holistic approach and adequately considers the home, its local environment, heritage, occupancy, and the householders’ improvement objectives when determining suitable measures.'
There are no new statutory regulations on the horizon; rather it is thought that the industry will voluntarily take up the new regime. Neither should the scheme prompt any great recruitment drive into the industry, such as the energy assessor training debacle that saw assessors left high and dry when the government chose to stop supporting the Green Deal in 2015. Instead it is expected that it will attract companies and consultants already active in the retrofit and renewables arenas.
Caplehorn says that working groups are already busy developing the detail of the scheme, with many RIBA members actively participating.
He forecasts another nine months to a year for completion of the work and the launch of pilots, but says architects should watch for a launch event shortly with a larger industry-wide event in the spring.
Thanks to Peter Caplehorn, Deputy Chief Executive and Policy Director, Construction Products Association.
Text by Neal Morris, © RIBA