Bonfield Review is little help for glass and glazing firms

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell considers the latest review into energy efficiency that was recently announced by the government.

Do you remember when improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock seemed to be the most important item on the government’s agenda? From a personal standpoint, I think I spent the first 15 years of my journalistic career talking about nothing else!

Maybe not strictly true, but I have read through Part L of the building regulations on a number of occasions.

Times have changed – today’s government has too many other things on its plate to be worrying about increased levels of insulation and the like.

However, the government did launch a review – Each Home Counts – after the hapless Green Deal predictably crashed and burned.

Led by BRE Group’s chief executive Peter Bonfield, the independent review into energy efficiency and home renewable energy measures called for greater consumer protection through a new framework and quality mark.

“Despite the good intentions of the government and activities of responsible companies, there have been too many instances of poor quality installations being made by companies who do not have the skills, quality levels or core values required to operate responsibly in this market,” Peter Bonfield said in the introduction to the review.

The review set out 27 recommendations to tackle consumer confidence, increase uptake and improve installation standards.

However, Phil Brown, European regulatory marketing manager at Pilkington UK, argued that those recommendations do not address the major issue of making energy efficiency investments attractive to homeowners. 

“While a call to improve industry standards to boost consumer confidence is a positive move, we were hoping for the recommendations to include better incentives for homeowners to invest in improving the energy efficiency of their windows and doors,” Phil said.

“There’s no doubt that consumer confidence is an issue, so the recommendations here are a move in the right direction to improve the take-up of energy-efficient products. Yet we would argue that cost certainly remains the most prohibitive issue.

“A financial incentive would entice more homeowners to spend money on making their properties greener.”

Phil continued: “For our industry, for which standards, codes of conduct and certification schemes are well-established, is there really a need for another mark and new set of standards? As well as the potential for another mark to confuse homeowners, will window installers – some already scarred from their Green Deal experiences – have an appetite for signing up to another initiative?”

Instead, Phil makes a strong case for learning from the Green Deal debacle and exploring the possibility of financial incentives to persuade homeowners to invest in energy efficiency measures in their properties. 

An improvement in homes’ energy efficiency offers so many benefits – for homeowners, the government, installers and manufacturers – that it would be a crying shame for this potentially lucrative market to be once again hobbled by ill-thought-out incentives.