The new green

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell welcomes news that the government will be offering a financial stimulus to boost the green economy.

The double glazing industry has arguably been propped up in recent years by those households that have a significant disposable income, rather than being reliant on high volume window replacements; that window and door replacements are less about need, more about desire.

This is evidenced by colour making up a greater proportion of sales, the growing popularity of aluminium as a profile material, and new flush sash designs winning the hearts of homeowners.

However, is all this about to change?

According to press reports over the last couple of days (and expected to be confirmed by the chancellor imminently) hundreds of thousands of homeowners will receive vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements.

This is part of a wider plan to cut carbon emissions, costing the government about £3 billion.

Under this Green Homes Grant, the government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy.

Furthermore, the poorest households could receive up to £10,000 towards costs, and that double glazing would also be covered by the scheme.

According to the BBC: “A homeowner of a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house could install cavity wall and floor insulation for about £4,000 – the homeowner would pay £1,320 while the government would contribute £2,680.

“The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers.”

The figures on offer may not meet the expectations of some campaigners, but I don’t think it can be undervalued.

Many companies are already reporting a significant increase in enquiries and sales following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, with the marketing director of one fabricator telling me that his company has had its best ever June.

But what can’t be ignored are the Everests, Sash UKs and Customades of this world. Their financial woes are not limited to their organisations – the reverberations are felt up and down the supply chain.

What this financial injection should do is generate an immediate interest in energy efficient windows and doors (preferable, I would imagine, to insulation because it is also visually improving), and rekindle the conversation around the drive towards carbon neutrality, which fell off the agenda during the last 10 years.

The news (which should be confirmed by the chancellor Rishi Sunak today) has been met with enthusiasm from most quarters within the construction industry.

For example, Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “This is very good news, signalling both an important step towards building back better and greener, and a vote of confidence for local builders up and down the country. This will protect jobs in construction, and create new opportunities. We must ensure that all the new entrants to the industry receive proper training or apprenticeships, to guarantee that energy efficiency home improvements are delivered by quality tradespeople.”

Furthermore, while the focus shifted away from energy efficiency in recent years, towards aesthetics and security, this industry didn’t drop the ball. I believe we are match ready to take this opportunity and make the most of what could be a green revolution.