“August sees a special anniversary for a major industry organisation”
- 60th Anniversary for NICEIC
- Understanding the new low voltage directive
- Two years since the launch
- Smart Bricks to generate electricity
- Plumbers could be missing out on business due to poor online presence
- Renewable energy outperforms coal in UK electricity statistics
- Industry associations launch major Brexit survey
- Skills minister outlines new plans for vocational education
- Southern Housing plans £360 million building programme
- London Mayor signs off £175 million Oaklands development
- £47 million Cheshire school redevelopment approved
- Green light for 188 home London scheme
60th Anniversary for NICEIC
This August marks an important milestone for NICEIC as it celebrates the 60th anniversary since its first inception. The UK’s leading voluntary body for electrical contractors was officially incorporated on August 10 1956.
The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting as it was first known , started out with 3,500 contrcators on its roll.
Today, it has more than 19 000 Approved Contractors and an additional 9,000 domestic installers – making it the UK’s largest and most recognised volutary body within the electrical industry.
“The 60th anniversary marks a significant milestone in the history of NICEC,” commented current CEO of NICEIC, Emma Clancy.
“Much has changed within the industry during the last six decades but the values of safety and competence remain at the core of everything we do.
“More and more businesses now turn to NICEIC for accreditation – firms who have voluntarily chosen to have their work assessed on an annual basis. They provide the appropriate insurances and customer protection policies, and have a detailed record of their work through the certification and notification process.
This has to be a good thing, not only for the industry, but consumers too, and we will keep working hard to continue to improve and meet our customers’ needs today and tomorrow.“
NICEIC was created in a post war era when there was a lack of uniform standards for wiring and there was no regulation of anyone carrying out electrical work. Although the first edition of the wiring regulations was produced way back in 1882 there was little control over the guidance being implemented.
In 1923 The National Register of Electrical Installation Contractors (NREIC) was set up to help the public identify competent contractors – although many of the contractors around at the time were not obliged to sign up. It would be another 33 years before NICEIC was set up as the first voluntary body and although much has changed, the principles remain the same – to keep a roll of approved contractors, to carry out inspections of their work, and to inform the public about the dangers of unsafe installations.
“It has been interesting looking back at the history of NICEIC and what it was like back then,” adds Emma. “Many of the principles remain the same but the delivery is somewhat different – and better I would like to think.”
By the late 50s NICEIC had around 14 inspecting engineers – one for each electrical board across the country. Some of them had to borrow test equipment from the area boards such was the limited supply, but they still managed to carry out more than 7,500 individual inspections.
Although 92% of inspections were rated good – around 2% were found to be not up to standard – this dropped to 0.2% in the first decade and was an early indicator of the work NICEIC was carrying out to drive up standards. The numbers on the roll were also increasing steadily, showing the influence NICEIC was having within the sector.
Today, NICEIC employs a team of 70 engineers who inspect more than 50,000 electrical installations each year. Its technical helpline deals with, on average, 60,000 enquiries each year – ensuring that technical standards within the sector are maintained. In addition, NICEIC now offer a range of add-on services for its customers including training, insurance, online certification, and a webshop offering great deals on tools and workwear.
“The electrical contractor of today is very different to one from 1956,” adds Emma.
“They are able to carry out a range of different tasks relating to the change in consumer demands and the development of the industry over time.
“NICEIC has had to reflect this change in the services it provides. We now offer a suite of professional services including training courses in renewables and smart home technology which provide further opportunities for contractors.
“We have also taken a more modern approach to the way we interact with our customers and launched a customer charter to report back on the services we provide.
“Customers of NICEIC now rate the service at an impressive 8.4 out of 10, while just under 95 % also rate the technical advice received as excellent.
“We will continue to build on this and ensure NICEIC is the number one choice in the industry for the next 60 years.”
Understanding the new low voltage directive
A new European Directive will provide greater protection for users of electrical equipment across a wide range of consumer and professional products, including power supply units and components such as fuses.
The Low Voltage Directive (LVD) 2014/35/EU came into force on 20th April 2016, replacing Directive 2006/95/EC. It provides detailed and in-depth guidance around the placing of electrical equipment within certain voltage boundaries.
Rittal has developed a Guide (`The New Low Voltage Directive`) to the Standard outlining the new features and requirements. This Guide provides information and a brief understanding of 2014/35/EC. It looks at what is new in the directive, what it means for panel builders and switchgear manufacturers, and what they can do to comply Including:
• Ensure technical documentation is in the language the destination country of the product
• Fulfil the requirements of the applicable product standard
• Prepare a risk analysis
• Remedy potential risks and provide a safety data sheet
The use and application of European Standards EN 61439 or EN 60204 will make the risk analyses far easier to prepare simply because, by implementing the technical measures of these standards along with the measures taken by testing them, risks are automatically reduced.
Rittal can offer further guidance around the LVD as required. For example,`The Introduction to the Application of IEC 61439` seminar is just one of a suite of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminars designed to provide support to industry professionals.
Each seminar has been reviewed and assessed by the Chartered Institute of Building Engineers (CIBSE), to ensure the technical content is of a high standard.
Two years since the launch
Two years on since it first launched, more than 41,000 businesses are now listed on the Registered Competent Person Electrical website.
Since its launch in June 2014 the site has attracted more than 200,000 visitors with, on average, more than 7,500 searches for local electricians carried out each month. Now is the perfect time to make sure you are on it.
Registered Competent Person Electrical (www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk) is a powerful source for anyone looking for a registered electrician in their area to carry out work in their home. It lists all Full Scope Part P registered firms in England and Wales.
It was created by all government approved Full Scope electrical Competent Person Scheme operators to make finding a registered electrician a simple and easy process. Registered Competent Person Electrical also has the support of leading industry stakeholders including the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Registered electricians are encouraged to check their details are present and up-to-date to ensure they are getting the most out of their free listing. If you’re a Full Scope, registered domestic electrical installer, your business should be automatically added to the register, if you don’t find your business on there make sure you contact your Competent Person Scheme Operator who will be able to help.
Commenting on the site, Napit group chief executive Michael Andrews said: “Over the 2 years of its existence, the Registered Competent Person Electrical website has proven to be an amazing resource. It provides consumers peace of mind by allowing them to locate electricians who are competent and have their work regularly assessed within their local area. It has also given installers a valuable free listing to advertise their business, which has subsequently allowed them to market themselves in their local area and increase business. I am confident that the website will continue to raise awareness of electrical safety in the home.”
Emma Clancy, CEO of Certsure, added: “RCPE is a leading resource to find all firms registered and assessed to carry out domestic electrical work throughout England and Wales. It is important to check that your business is listed and that your contact information is present and correct to ensure you are getting the most from this free and invaluable resource.”
Over the past 2 years, campaigns highlighting the value of the RCPE have reached a multitude of people through social media. These campaigns have helped to raise awareness on electrical safety and encouraged people to seek out professional installers in their area.
To find out more about Registered Competent Person Electrical, visit: www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk
If you would like to update your details or you think your business should be listed but does not appear on the register, you need to contact the DCLG authorised Competent Person Scheme Operator you are registered with. A full list, including contact details, is available at: www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk/Contact-Us
Smart Bricks to generate electricity
Smart bricks capable of recycling wastewater and generating electricity from sunlight are being developed by a team of scientists from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
The bricks will be able to fit together and create ‘bioreactor walls’ which could then be incorporated in housing, public building and office spaces.
The UWE Bristol team is working on the smart technologies that will be integrated into the bricks in this pan European ‘Living Architecture’ (LIAR) project led by Newcastle University.
The LIAR project brings together living architecture, computing and engineering to find a new way to tackle global sustainability issues.
The smart living bricks will be made from bio-reactors filled with microbial cells and algae. Designed to self-adapt to changing environmental conditions the smart bricks will monitor and modify air in the building and recognise occupants.
Each brick will contain microbial fuel cells (MFCs) containing a variety of micro-organisms specifically chosen to clean water, reclaim phosphate, generate electricity and facilitate the production of new detergents, as part of the same process.
The MFCs that will make up the living engine of the wall of smart bricks will be able to sense their surroundings and respond to them through a series of digitally coordinated mechanisms.
Professor Andrew Adamatzky, LIAR project director for UWE Bristol, is leading the UWE Bristol team, he said, “The technologies we are developing aim to transform the places where we live and work enabling us co-live with the building.
“A building made from bio-reactors will become a large-scale living organism that addresses all environmental and energy needs of the occupants. Walls in buildings comprised of smart bricks containing bioreactors will integrate massive-parallel computing processors where millions of living creatures sense the occupants in the building and the internal and external environmental conditions.
“Each smart brick is an electrical analogous computer. A building made of such bricks will be a massive-parallel computing processor.”
A photo-bioreactor is a device that can be programmed to utilize a variety of inputs such as grey water, microbial consortia (algae and bacteria), carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and different types of nutrient to generate outputs.
These outputs include ‘polished’ water, fertiliser, extractable products (recoverable phosphate), oxygen, next generation biodegradable detergents, electricity, recoverable biomass, bio-fluorescence and to a certain extent, heat.
Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, Director of the Bristol Bioenergy Centre (BBiC), at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at UWE Bristol, said, “Microbial Fuel Cells are energy transducers that exploit the metabolic activity of the constituent microbes to break down organic waste and generate electricity.
“This is a novel application for MFC modules to be made into actuating building blocks as part of wall structures. This will allow us to explore the possibility of treating household waste, generating useful levels of electricity, and have ‘active programmable’ walls within our living environments.”
Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture at Newcastle University, UK, who is co-ordinating the project, said, “The LIAR project is incredibly exciting – it is bringing together living architecture, computing and engineering to find a new way to tackle global issues, like sustainability.”
The €3.2m LIAR (Living Architecture) project is co-ordinated by Newcastle University working with experts from the universities of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Trento and Florence, the Spanish National Research Council; LIQUIFER Systems Group and EXPLORA.
Plumbers could be missing out on business due to poor online presence
Yell, UK digital marketing provider, has discovered an overwhelming majority of plumbers (90%) have incorrect or inconsistent information online, including basic details such as a phone number or email.
Yell analysed the online presence of 4,962 plumbers in the UK across sites including Bing, Facebook and My Local Services UK, and also asked customers nationwide about their online habits and expectations.
The results showed some basic but common errors in small businesses’ approach to reaching potential online customers, such as having different telephone numbers listed on different sites.
Feedback showed 89% of customers say they will try another company if the details listed online for a particular business are incorrect, suggesting many small businesses, including plumbers, are missing out on a lot of potential custom.
- 51% of customers said when they were looking for a new service, the most important source of information was a website
- 54% of people rely on positive online reviews when deciding on a new local business or service
“If a company’s information online is wrong, it’s arguably worse than not being online at all,” said Mark Clisby, Yell’s marketing director. “Not only is the company effectively invisible to customers, it can also seem careless or even untrustworthy. This often happens because companies don’t always know all the listings sites where they appear, or when they move they forget to update their information. It’s easily done, but can be incredibly damaging for business.”
“A lot of small businesses tell me they get all their business from word of mouth and don’t need to be online. However, they’re ignoring the fact that word of mouth has moved online, with more than half of all customers choosing a local business based on online reviews. That’s a lot of work to be missing out on.”
To support small businesses, Yell has launched Connect, a service recognising the importance of connections, word of mouth recommendations and referrals. It helps business owners make their details visible online and get in front of the people looking for local products and services.
Yell is offering small businesses in the UK the chance to try out Connect by completing a free scan of their business online. By entering the business name and address, Connect is able to identify how visible a business is online and, most importantly, report on how accurate the information is.
Renewable energy outperforms coal in UK electricity statistics
The government’s new annual energy statistics show that renewable energy sources are replacing coal as mainstream technologies generating power for British homes, offices and factories.
Figures realeased on 28 July confirm that 25% of the UK’s electricity was generated from renewables last year – an increase of 29% on 2014. Nearly half of this (48%) came from wind power alone.
In comparison, coal generated 22% of the country’s electricity – down from 30% in 2014.
RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “The government took the right decision when it announced the phasing out of coal. Now we can see renewable energy filling the gap, replacing old technology with new. 2015 was the first year that renewables outperformed coal.
“A quarter of Britain’s power is now coming from wind, wave and tidal power and other renewable energy sources. Renewables are now part of our energy mainstream, helping us modernise the way we keep the lights on by building new infrastructure for the generations to come”.
The Government’s latest poll on the public’s views on energy, the Public Attitudes Tracking Survey, also published on 28 July, showed that 76% of people support renewable energy.
Industry associations launch major Brexit survey
A new survey on the impact of the Brexit vote on the building services engineering sector has been launched by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT.
The survey aims to identify the key issues within the sector following the UK’s landmark decision to leave the European Union. The survey covers the likely implications of Brexit for the sector, including the UK government’s exit negotiations with Brussels.
The results of the survey will inform the representational work of the ECA, BESA and SELECT as the government develops its Brexit negotiating position and establishes new approaches to domestic and international policy and legislation.
Rob Driscoll, director of commercial and legal at BESA, said: “The referendum vote has created business uncertainty and knocked confidence just when the economy was showing signs of gradual recovery after the financial crash. However, there is a lot of misinformation and scaremongering out there – the UK is in danger of talking itself into a recession.
“It is vital, therefore, to gather good quality, accurate market intelligence at a time like this so businesses can make investment and recruitment decisions based on what is actually happening. We need to build up a picture of what Brexit could really mean for our sector and which issues most concern our members so that we can provide useful advice and guidance.”
Paul Reeve, director of business services at the ECA, added: “The Prime Minister has famously said that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. She quickly added that the UK is going to ‘make a success of it’, and so it’s now up to our sector to help shape UK government policy and to identify the opportunities, and solutions to the challenges ahead.”
The survey has just 12 questions and will usually take around five minutes to complete. It is open to all contractors in the BSE sector, and most notably ECA, BESA and SELECT members. The survey findings will be shared with member-firms and key stakeholders from across the industry, this autumn.
The online Brexit survey, which runs until Tuesday 6 September, can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TJWQ5WY.
Skills minister outlines new plans for vocational education
Skills Minister Nick Boles has unveiled a new plan for Post-16 education based on 15 routes into technical education, in order to “harness [the nation’s] talent”.
Under the new Post-16 Skills Plan, which follows recommendations made in a report into technical education chaired by Lord Sainsbury, 16-year-olds will have to choose between 15 high quality routes rather than the 20,000 they are currently faced with.
Despite the high number of courses currently provided by 160 different organisations, the report argues young people have no clear indication of which course will give the best chance of a job. They will now have to decide between academic options and technical ones aimed at a set of skilled occupations, with standards being set by employers. Each course will be offered by a single course provider – the winner of an exclusive license in a competitive process.
Lord Sainsbury’s report found that the current system is confusing and failing to deliver the skills required by the country’s employers, with significant implications for the UK’s productivity, economy and competitiveness.
It has been announced that the first routes will be made available from 2019 – a claim that has been dismissed by critics as “wildly optimistic”.
Mr Boles said: “Britain has all the ingredients needed to compete with other skilled nations, but we must create a technical education system that can harness that talent. This cannot be the government’s job alone; we must work with employers and post-16 providers to unlock the potential in this country.
“The skills plan is the next step towards that goal, building on the progress we have already made by investing in apprenticeships, and creating a skilled workforce that is the envy of every other nation. This won’t just help our young people get the best jobs but it will also boost our economy, benefitting us all.”
Graeme Dryden, head of technical at APHC, commented: “We are pleased that government has recognised the need for an urgent shake-up of vocational education. Recent research by APHC revealed that 86% of people believe that school leavers should be encouraged to consider an apprenticeship as an alternative to higher education. By not providing young people with this option we are failing the next generation as well as disadvantaging the wider economy. Whether 2019 is a realistic target for the implementation of these changes remains to be seen.”
Southern Housing plans £360 million building programme
London-based Southern Housing Group is looking to consult with builders before stetting up a framework to deliver 3,500 homes over four years.
The programme is expected to cost £630m and will consist mainly of one and two-bedroom flats for affordable rent and open market rent.
Projects will range in size between 5 and 300 homes. At the smaller end of the scale, some projects will be small, infill sites mostly in London and rural exception sites. There will also be a number of medium sized one-off projects and several large regeneration schemes, which may be broken down into phases.
Southern Housing Group is planning a soft market test to explore how best to deliver its planned constructor framework. The exercise will cover contract packaging, delivery models, forms of contract, pricing models, social value and innovation.
Firms can register their interest by clicking and answering the survey.
London Mayor signs off £175 million Oaklands development
Work has been cleared to start later this year on a £175m regeneration project in west London that will deliver 605 new homes.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given final approval to plans for the first major housing development at the Old Oak regeneration site in London, after intervening to boost the number of affordable homes in the scheme.
The Oaklands project also involves the construction of a new link road from Old Oak Common Lane into the site, opening up the wider area to regeneration.
Demolition of the existing site buildings will start later this year and construction work on this phase is expected to take three years to fully complete.
The application was approved by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the organisation that has planning control over the Old Oak regeneration site, on 13th July 2016 and subsequently went to the mayor for sign-off.
Planners reckon that Old Oak and Park Royal have the potential for 25,500 new homes over the next 30 to 40 years, as well as becoming a key transport interchange for Crossrail and HS2.
Sadiq Khan said: “The scale and ambition for this development shows London is very much open for business. Despite the uncertainty caused by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, it remains clear that developers and investors see long-term potential in our great city.”
The developers are Genesis Housing Association and Queens Park Rangers Football Club (QPR). QPR has other strategic land interests in Old Oak and would like to build a new stadium as part of the wider development, providing a new home for the club.
Genesis chief executive Neil Hadden said: “We are delighted that the redevelopment at Oaklands, in one of Hammersmith and Fulham’s most important regeneration sites, has been approved. We will now be able to provide hundreds more affordable homes for Londoners on a once derelict site. Partnerships such as the one we have with QPR enable us to invest, not only in building new homes, but in developing new communities.”
QPR co-chairman Tony Fernandes said: “We are delighted that the Mayor has granted planning permissions for the Oaklands development, including hundreds of affordable homes for Londoners. Along with our development partners Genesis Housing Association we look forward to creating this new neighbourhood, building a sustainable community where people can live, work and play. We are committed to bringing forward other development sites in Old Oak as soon as possible to create the homes that London desperately needs.“
Of the 242 affordable homes, half will be for social and affordable rent, with the other half being for shared ownership.
£47 million Chesire school redevelopment approved
Plans to redevelop a former Cheshire high school site with a mix of private and council homes have got the thumbs up.
Developer Keepmoat will build 401 homes at the former Woodford Lodge High School site in Winsford.
The new housing scheme, which has been called Woodford Grange, spans 30 acres of brownfield and will provide home hunters and first time buyers with access to a collection of two, three and four bedroom properties under the government backed Help to Buy scheme.
There will be 130 affordable properties built on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council within the development – the first local authority houses built within the Borough for nearly 40 years.
Gareth Roberts, regional managing director for Keepmoat in the North West, said: “Working in partnership with the Council, we have identified key ways to regenerate a surplus piece of land and really invest in Winsford while creating housing solutions – particularly for first time buyers. ”
Work is anticipated to start on site later this summer.
Green light for 188 home London scheme
Expansion in London has stepped up a gear after Barnet Council approved plan to build 188 homes in Mill Hill.
Its Prime Place development arm will now build 159 homes for private sale, together with 29 homes for affordable rent, on a 2.7 acre site at Millbrook Park.
The scheme, designed by architects Broadway Malyan, will form part of a new north London community earmarked to provide over 2,000 homes in a landscaped parkland setting, together with shops, offices and a new primary school.
Residents will benefit from underground parking and a low carbon district heating system.
Brian Brady, managing director Prime Place, said the scheme underlined Willmott Residential’s growing presence, developing homes for sale through Prime Place and for private rent through be:here.
Willmott Residential now boasts 5,000 units on site or in planning using its model to develop tenure mixes concurrently. This includes acting as lead developer on the 1,176 home regeneration of Aberfeldy Village in Tower Hamlets and Brentford FC’s masterplan for a 20,000 seat stadium and 900 homes.
Elsewhere, Prime Place is working with Westminster City Council to create new leisure facilities at no cost to the council through cross-funding afforded by the creation of 156 homes, while Be:here is finalising 118 homes for private rent at the site of the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes and has planning permission for nearly 600 homes in Barking.