I attended the M+E Expo yesterday at Olympia and presented our work on the Retrofit for the Future project with Peabody. I also took part in a panel discussion on the Renewable Heat Incentive with Rob Panell of the Zero Carbon Hub. There was a representative from Ofgem there to speak about the RHI who was confident that it will be up and running before the end of the year and demonstrated that the website for applications is ready to go. There is a team of about twenty people set up and ready to go at Ofgem, which makes me wonder what they are doing meanwhile!
A lot of the panel discussion on the RHI wasn’t about the RHI itself but on how to integrate the funding from FiTs, RHI and the Green Deal together. The difficulty of integrating the design and implementation of energy saving measures was highlighted, particularly the impact of new systems on residents who are already in occupation and who are expected to change their habits to use new systems or adopt new lifestyles. This could be a lot to ask of people who have lived somewhere all their lives. It is quite different from asking people who are moving into new homes to adopt a new lifestyle, in that case their is an expectation of change.
On a similar note, someone from the BRE covered their BREEAM refurbishment standard. I am concerned to see that many of the credits are just moved over from the Code for Sustainable Homes. This could be a mistake, as dealing with people in their homes is very different to creating new homes. Why would installing a bike shed in the back garden be needed to gain credits if residents already store their bikes in the hallway and are happy to do so? If we are going to ask people to park their bikes in a different place, do we tell them to buy organic and Fairtrade as well? Where do you stop?
The exhibition has some interesting stands this year. I was particularly interested in a secondary glazing product. This may be cheap enough to work with the Green Deal, so I suggested to them that they get to work on calculating the cost/energy benefit of the product. Having just been through a retrofit project where the window replacement didn’t go too well. I am interested in products that can be inserted into homes with residents in occupation with the minimum fuss and disturbance and secondary glazing has to be one of these. It would also be interesting to look at secondary glazing installed outside the existing system for cases where solid wall insulation is added to the external surface. A secondary glazing system that is weatherproof might solve the cold bridging problem in a fairly neat way.