Regardless of where you sit on climate change or ‘environmental issues’, as described by some of the unconverted, change is coming in one form or the other as the planet gears up to de-carbonise.
On a national level, from our interaction with registered providers & local government, their view is that one way to tackle it will be changing the way people heat their homes. In that sense the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has already started a consultation in the form of The Future Homes Standard paper.
A lot is not yet clear, especially in the way the problem will be tackled by the government and this can be seen in the approaches that Registered Providers are undertaking to ‘greening’ their housing stock.
Over the last couple of years different housing organisation have trialled different approaches, with a variety of results. In certain cases, these were successful, while others provided confirmation that new approaches are either not there yet, or that the Registered Provider does not have the capacity to provide such services or upgrades on behalf of its tenants.
In that context CHIC has asked some of its suppliers to try and support both CHIC as well as its members in addressing the challenges and options that are available to them.
In order to address the topic fully, we looked at three types of suppliers:
- A labour provider to address the human aspect of the challenges
- A manufacturer of heating system
- A manufacturer of ancillary heating products
Interestingly Laker BMS, a contractor that has been providing expertise and services to the social housing sector since 1978, has confirmed what we as an industry knew for some time; and that is that at this point in time there is no prevalent approach in the industry when it comes to renewables or alternatives to assist with ‘greening’.
Approaches so far involve one of the following:
- Air or Ground sourced Heat Pumps
- Solar Thermal
- Mechanical Heat Recovery systems (MVHR)
Lakers view was echoed by the delegates in that viability of small projects does little in providing enough data and more importantly, evidence for what works best for registered providers.
However, the most important challenge, other than the lack of direction, is that with the budget cuts of recent years, expertise for operatives and gas servicing professionals is being lost with the trend towards multi-trade operatives.
Laker believes that in the near future, and with 2025 fast approaching – at which point no further gas connections can be made, training and expertise will prove as challenging as adopting the green measures that are needed.
One of the main points that was raised by Laker was that the easiest method or maybe the simplest can have the biggest impact – Chris Cheshire, Laker Director, used insulation as an example to fight waste and increase property efficiency.
Adey Innovation Limited has provided heating products to prolong the lifespan of the heating system and are the market leader for such products. They have echoed the same message as Laker BMS in that the easiest methods are usually the most effective.
Prolonging the life of the heating system doesn’t just have an impact on maintenance and replacement costs but has an impact on the carbon footprint of the home.
One of the biggest impacts they as a manufacturer had in the market, is in lobbying for greater regulation of building standards in terms of ancillary products for the heating system. With their support British Standards 7593 had a 2019 update, which now specifies that heating system should include a magnetic filter.
A small change, but one that will ensure that less money, time and resources are wasted by prolonging the life of the boiler and heating system.
Heating Systems of the future
A number of new types pf heating system have been promoted, trialled and implemented over the last few decades.
Unfortunately, the uptake has been modest. More homes are now being built with ground or air sourced heat pumps, but the diversification of all electric has been slow.
The view in the sector is that no overarching force is pushing for one approach or the other; with some critics saying that actually the energy and resources in developing new technologies and their implementation is one of the bigger detractors, usually in the form of the cost associated with these.
The one thing that has changed in recent years is that is that government is now pushing a lot harder for the green revolution – zero carbon by 2050.
Worcester Bosch, and their world class development team, presented a case for the future that might have stunned a few in attendance.
Worcester Bosch is proposing to solve the upcoming dilemma with Hydrogen ready boilers. Tom Collins, Worcester Bosch’s Hydrogen Module Series Owner provided an outstanding presentation on the benefits and challenges in the sector.
The main benefit of this approach is that hydrogen is going to make use of the same infrastructure as methane, meaning that instead of normal gas through the pipes, people will be receiving hydrogen. The case has been demonstrated by Leeds City Gate with the commission of the H21 project, which showed that the infrastructure is actually ready for the switchover with only little preparation at the national scale.
The H21 paper covers the topic in depth and I recommend it to any gas servicing professionals.
Ultimately, it seems that the industry is finally getting the direction it needs and suppliers are ready to support it. We now just need the landlords to embrace the changes needed at scale.
Supply Chain Manager