UK turns up the heat with £557m for greener public buildings

More public buildings and businesses will benefit from over half a billion pounds in funding to help reduce their energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions.

Schools, pools, and hospitals will be supported to make energy-efficient upgrades, with over £557 million in government investment.

Heat pumps, solar panels, insulation, and low energy lighting will be rolled out to reduce the use of fossil fuels across the public sector and strengthen the UK’s energy independence, helping save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

Hydrogen Town Pilot postponed until 2026 decision on Hydrogen

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has announced that its planned Hydrogen Heating Town pilot of 10,000 homes will not take place before 2026.

An update posted on the website stated: “The government has decided not to progress work on a hydrogen town pilot until after 2026 strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat.

“This follows careful consideration of the future of the work in light of the decision in December 2023 not to proceed with the hydrogen village trial in Redcar.

Future Homes Standard ‘vital’ opportunity to rethink ventilation

Trade body representing ventilation and building protection sector argues for strict new requirements around enforcing ventilation standards in new buildings from next year.

The planned introduction of England’s Future Homes Standard in 2025 offers a much-needed opportunity to address ventilation standards, the Property Care Association (PCA) argues.


CITB industry forecast outlines workforce challenge

The annual industry forecast from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) highlights the “continuing persistent gap between what the UK needs to keep up with demand and the workforce available to meet the challenge.”

According to the CITB’s Construction Skills Network (CSN) 2024-28 report, the UK’s construction output rose by 2% in 2023. This was the third consecutive year of growth, and the sector will grow by an average 2.4% a year between now and 2028.

February PHMI shows value sales increase +2.1% but volumes are flat

The latest figures from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report show total value sales for February through specialist plumbing and heating merchants were up +2.1% in 2024 compared to February 2023. Prices edged up +2.3% while volume was flat (-0.2%).

With one additional trading day in 2024, like-for-like sales for February (which taking trading day differences into account), were -2.8% lower than 2023.

NHBC figures reflect house building challenges

Indicative of the challenges confronting house building in first quarter, figures from the National House Building Council show 21,967 new homes were registered to be built in Q1 2024, down 20% on Q1 2023 (27,619). 26,240 new homes were completed in the same period, 13% down on Q1 2023 (30,071).

Despite the fall – which NHBC attributes to “continued economic challenges, skills shortages and the eighth wettest winter on record” – the organisation asserts that there are “tentative signs of growth,” with new home registrations increasing month-on-month in the first quarter. 8,320 new homes were registered to be built in March compared to 6,557 in January and 7,090 in February. Q1 2024 registrations were also higher than Q3 and Q4 2023.

Nearly One Million Work Injuries in Construction Due to Poor Mental Health, study finds

Half of all UK construction workers, or 1.5 million people, have worked in a dangerous environment while suffering from poor mental health, and close to 700,000 have sustained injuries, according to new research from business insurer QBE.

For the first time, QBE research shows the cost to the UK construction industry from poor mental health. QBE surveyed 362 UK construction workers about their mental health at work. The results indicate that even with the increased risk of injury, they are likely to continue to work.

Construction Leadership Council outlines crucial UK retrofit skill needs

Industry-led findings have set out some of the main competencies and skills requirements to ensure millions of UK buildings can undergo a safe and effective low carbon retrofit

The UK construction sector faces major skills challenges to undertake safe and effective low carbon building retrofit work at scale, industry findings warn.

The claims have been made in a new report from the Construction Leadership Council (CLC)looking at how the built environment sector can ensure industry-wide competency to retrofit some 27 million homes across the country.


New HNES Funding Round Announced

Over £3 million of funding is being awarded through the government’s Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES) to enhance heat networks across England and Wales.

Allocated as Round 5 of the scheme, the funding aims to improve the efficiency of heat networks for the benefit of 8,492 residents and various other private and public sector organisations.

The funds in this round bring the total awarded by HNES to over £30 million. This time, 24 organisations will receive support, totalling £3.2 million for 33 heat networks across the country.

UK ‘off-track’ on heat pump installations without policy reforms

National Infrastructure Commission says further incentives and policy reforms are needed for the government to deliver on its own heat decarbonisation targets

A further expansion of incentives for introducing low carbon heating in UK buildings is needed to meet heat pump installation targets, the country’s infrastructure watchdog warns.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has concluded in its 2024 Progress Review into major government projects and priorities that the uptake of electric heating solutions remains too low to meet the country’s net zero commitments.

UK helps drive ‘modest’ growth in 2023 global heat pump demand

Market analysis from BSRIA predicts that global demand will grow for lower carbon heat despite some notable market challenges in 2023 and this year

Increased demand for heat pumps in markets such as the UK, the Netherlands and the US has driven an overall increase in global installations over the course of 2023.

New findings from trade body BSRIA stated the overall demand around the world for hydronic heat pump systems rose “modestly” last year by one per cent.

Some of the main drivers for the increase was steady demand in established markets such as Japan and Sweden, according to the research.


British Businesses Reach EV Tipping Point, survey finds

British van drivers believe that electric vans (EVs) are now more cost effective to run than a petrol or diesel alternative, according to a study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK.

At a time of constant pressure on businesses, 52% of commercial drivers now believe that operating an electric van would be more cost effective compared to petrol or diesel equivalents. More than two-thirds of the UK’s van drivers also say that EVs would suit their business needs and day-to-day work.

These are the results of a survey of 1,000 UK van drivers conducted in December 2023 by a OnePoll for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Encourage Customer to have Boiler Services NOW, Baxi says

Installers are being encouraged to engage their customers in dialogue about the importance of a proactive annual boiler service now, to avoid the annual surge in requests come the industry’s busiest period.

The encouragement follows Baxi’s finding that online searches for ‘boiler service’ peaked at 40,000 last October, compared to an annual low of just 12,000 last June.

With such a vast difference in demand over the spring and summer compared to the start of the peak heating season, Ian Trott, Head of UK Training Solutions at Baxi, believes now is the time for installers to encourage annual servicing during quieter months.


UK struggles behind Europe in smart meter race

Recent analysis conducted by LCP Delta highlights disparities between Britain and its European counterparts in deploying electricity smart meters.

While the UK has progressed in installing these meters in domestic properties, data indicates it trails several European nations in achieving widespread adoption.

Government statistics reveal that approximately 36% of UK households lack electricity smart meters, raising concerns about meeting national targets.

Majority of UK homeowners clueless about heat pumps

A new survey by the Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV) shows that nearly 59% of UK homeowners lack the necessary information to transition to renewable heating technologies such as heat pumps confidently.

The polling shows that almost 26% of respondents felt well-informed about these alternatives to traditional heating systems.

The survey revealed regional variations in knowledge about renewable heating technologies. In London, nearly 35% of respondents felt well-informed, the highest rate in the UK.

Survey Highlights Consumer Preference for Gas Boilers

A new survey of consumers suggests that just one in ten people across the UK want to use a heat pump in their home, with the great majority expressing a preference instead for the ongoing use of gas. The research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the trade body Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) found that while 69% of UK adults believe it is important the UK reaches its goal of achieving net zero by 2050, only 10% of those surveyed said they either have a heat pump or want to get one. In fact, 45% of UK adults said they have not even considered switching to a heat pump.

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