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November 2017 Newsletter

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Educators and Employers need to ‘wake up’ over apprentices

Recent YouGov findings revealing that less than one in 12 students aged 15-18 are being advised to seek a work based apprenticeship, coupled with a 61% decrease in the number of people starting apprenticeships, shows how educators and employers urgently need to “wake up”, says the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE).

Kevin Wellman, CEO, said: “The skills gap in the UK has been widely publicised for a number of years now, which makes the current state of communication around apprenticeships and uptake, or lack thereof, all the more disappointing. We are now in a position where, if educators and employers don’t wake up and address this problem, the future of vocational industries in the UK will be bleak.”

With the prospect of Brexit looming and the uncertainty this brings with it, Kevin believes there is even more reason to act quickly.

“What is clear, is that if we are to address the skills shortage and safeguard our industry, especially post-Brexit, more needs to be done across all fronts to encourage change, and not just the bare minimum,” he said.

“This means associations like the CIPHE promoting apprenticeships to members, and also working with consumer bodies to educate the public at large, especially parents. This way we are covering all bases by sharing benefits of employing an apprentice with those in the trade, and giving caregivers of school age learners the insight to also be able to discuss apprenticeships.”

 

Educators and Employers need to 'wake up' over apprentices

Educators and Employers need to ‘wake up’ over apprentices

 

Source: Heating & Plumbing Magazine

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Shell to open electric vehicle charging points at UK petrol stations

Shell is opening the first wave of electric vehicle charging points at its UK petrol stations, in a sign of the far-reaching changes underway in the transport and oil sectors.

Drivers will be able to recharge 80 per cent of their battery in half an hour at forecourts in London, Surrey, and Derby from, with a total of 10 service stations to be equipped with rapid chargers by the end of the year.

The move marks Shell’s first step into the UK electric car sector and comes days after the Anglo-Dutch oil company bought NewMotion, a Dutch firm with 30,000 private charging points at homes and offices in Europe.

Shell said the forays into charging were spurred by the swift growth in battery-powered cars, which now number more than 115,000 in the UK, up from almost zero a decade ago.

 

Shell to open electric vehicle charging points at UK petrol stations

Shell to open electric vehicle charging points at UK petrol stations

 

Source: Electrical Times

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Reduced energy bills with Smart Heating

UK adults who currently use smart home heating solutions have reported significant savings on their heating costs as a result.

However, despite the clear benefits of either using smart systems or smart thermostats, the majority of participants who took part in a survey by online electrical retailer, reichelt elektronik, are still not planning to make the switch to smart heating (86%).

The top three barriers cited for this are: high costs for product and installation, not being sure if the investment is worthwhile, and not having the appropriate equipment or compatible radiators or they are missing necessary IT equipment

The eight per cent of UK adults surveyed who do use complete smart home systems for their heating, cited the following benefits as their reasons for doing so:

  • 47% saw improved their comfort at home
  • 46% saw reduced their heating costs
  • 23% report improved wellbeing
  • 19% saw reduced mould in their home

The top factor that would persuade Brits to invest in smart heating is if they knew heating costs could be reduced (60&). This is an important factor for all age groups. A secondary factor is improved comfort – being able to control heating from a distance for example (22%), which is priority for 18-24 year olds. Interestingly, this research shows these are the top two benefits experienced by those currently using smart systems, demonstrating there is a clear gap in knowledge and understanding of the benefits in reality of switching to these systems.

“The reasons preventing Britons from switching to intelligent heating systems reveal that there is still a lot of education about smart heating solutions needed,” said Thomas Kruse, product manager for smart home technology at reichelt.

“With intelligent heating thermostats, for example, homemakers can improve their wellbeing and comfort without permanent intervention in the heating system and they can easily be exchanged when they are removed, offering a simpler solution that avoids serious installation. Starter kits are already available from about £90, but can save up to 30% of the heating costs.”

The survey of 1,000 UK adults conducted by OnePoll in October 2017, also revealed that 37% of Brits would like to see further promotion and investment from the government into smarter heating solutions.

 

Reduced energy bills with Smart Heating

Reduced energy bills with Smart Heating

 

Source: Heating & Plumbing Monthly Magazine

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Electrical installation checks of rented properties to become compulsory

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) working group says homes should be inspected every five years and a system of approved inspectors set up.

Following the recommendations of a government report, letting agents and property managers in England and Wales will soon have to organise electrical installation checks of privately rented properties.

After a detailed examination of the subject, the working group set up by the DCLG has recommended that electrical installation checks should be compulsory for properties within the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and carried out every five years.

The working group also says a scheme should be set up to register and approve the people who will carry out the checks and separate electrical safety from the Building Regulations regulatory framework.

Led by five senior figures from the DCLG, the working group’s members included every membership organisation within the lettings industry including most of the main membership associations representing agents and landlords.

The final recommendation is that the requirements for electrical installation checks should be phased in, starting with new tenancies before being rolled out to include existing ones.

But the rest of recommendations are not mandatory and include instead recommendations.

These include that landlords or agents should carry out visual checks of electrical equipment at a change of tenancy, that paperwork confirming that an Electrical Condition Report and any remedial work has been completed be given to both the landlord and new tenant, and that Residual Current Devices be fitted to a device to prevent electric shocks being suffered by tenants.

The working group, which met four times, says although safety standards are improving within the PRS, tenants within it still face a higher risk from ‘incidents’ from electrical faults than their social housing counterparts.

The new regulations, which are now likely to be enacted via the existing Housing and Planning Act 2016, are in addition to the existing regulations that make it a legal duty for landlords and their agent to ensure the wiring in rented homes is safe.

 

Electrical installation checks of rented properties to become compulsory

Electrical installation checks of rented properties to become compulsory

 

Source: Electrical Times

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Plan for 56-floor tapering Square Mile Skyscraper

A Hong Kong investor has unveiled plans for a 56-storey tapering tower in the City of London main cluster.

The new tower at 100 Leadenhall Street will echo the angled appearance of the nearby Cheesegrater but on a taller scale, offering nearly 1.2m sq ft of space.

Far East investment specialist London & Oriental, acting on behalf of Hong Kong investor Lai Sun Development, bought up key sites on Leadenhall to develop the scheme, known as project Dragon.

Plans for the new 263m tall building, which has been designed by New York architect SOM, are due to be submitted by the spring of next year with construction hoped to start in 2019.

The 100 Leadenhall site is one of the last significant sites available for development on the eastern edge of the Eastern Cluster in the City.

WSP is part of the client team as structural consultant with Core Five providing cost consultancy.

The building’s facades are designed as complex three-dimensional forms based on a pattern of interlocking diamonds to create an ever-changing light pattern over the course of the day.

The tower angles away from both Leadenhall Street and Bury Street as it rises to enhance its slender appearance and minimise the impact on the skyline.

 

Plan for 56-floor tapering Square Mile Skyscraper

Plan for 56-floor tapering Square Mile Skyscraper

 

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Growth in Irish construction slows

October’s data signalled slower growth, with weaker rises in total activity, new orders and employment all recorded.

The rate of input cost inflation quickened to a four-month high amid reports that material shortages had led to price rises.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes in total construction activity – posted 54.5 in October, down from 56.5 in September. Readings above 50 indicate growth and so October’s value signalled a solid monthly increase in activity, albeit one that was the slowest in over two-and-a-half years. Activity has now expanded in 50 successive months.

Slower rises in activity were recorded on both housing and commercial projects during the month, although both continued to see marked expansions. The faster increase was registered for housing activity. Meanwhile, civil engineering work continued to fall, and at a stronger pace than in September.

Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said: “The latest results of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI survey show that Irish construction firms continue to report healthy rates of expansion. The headline PMI did ease in October, consistent with some cooling in momentum following a very strong first half of 2017, in the process reaching its lowest level since March 2015. However, at 54.5, last month’s reading remains comfortably in expansion territory. Mirroring the pattern of the headline PMI, the sectoral sub-indices also painted a picture of moderating growth in October, though the housing and commercial indices both remain at elevated levels, and very much consistent with ongoing solid expansion. Civil engineering continued to underperform, recording a fifth consecutive monthly decline in activity.”

He added that employment and new business levels continued to rise solidly in October, in line with the trends in total activity. “But a further easing last month has left the pace of growth in both categories some way below the very rapid rates recorded over the summer months,” he said. “While the overall story very much remains one of continuing construction sector improvement, both in absolute terms and relative to other European countries, the evidence of some recent cooling in momentum bears close watching in the months ahead.”

The rate of job creation also eased in October, the second month running in which this has been the case. Employment continued to rise at a solid pace, however, with hiring mainly in response to new contracts.

Construction firms remained strongly confident that output will increase over the coming year. Optimism was largely based on positive expectations regarding new business. That said, business sentiment dipped to an eight-month low.

 

Growth in Irish construction slows

Growth in Irish construction slows

 

Source: The Construction Index

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EIC offers support for employees and their families

The Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) has launched the Employee and Family Support Programme which aims to help employees and their families with challenging life situations in their time of need.

According to the charity, many people are struggling with a wide range of issues in the electrical sector. This could be due to caring for a loved one, going through a relationship breakdown, having financial problems or dealing with mental health issues. Few of these people feel comfortable sharing their problems, however, and therefore continue to suffer on their own in silence, says the charity.

The Electrical Industries Charity has launched the Employee and Family Support Programme to help people in the electrical and energy sectors to look forward to the future.

The charity’s programme offers employees and their families support through its services, including a confidential helpline and free telephone counselling sessions, debt solutions, financial assistance and grants, legal advice and career advice.

“In our industry, there are many people who are struggling with a wide range of challenging situations which are restricting them from having the fulfilling life they deserve,” says managing director, Tessa Ogle. “This is why we have launched our Employee and Family Support Programme to provide support and assist them in each step of the way towards creating a better future for themselves.”

 

EIC offers support for employees and their families

EIC offers support for employees and their families

 

Source: Elecftrical Contracting News

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Not enough funding support for electrically heated households, says Dimplex

Upgrading static electric storage heaters could help to close a combined fuel poverty gap of £160 million, according to a new report by Glen Dimplex.

More than 3.2 million households in England and Scotland are fuel poor according to official statistics. Around 15% of these – almost 500,000 households – use electricity to heat their homes and are paying over the odds for their heating because of a legacy of ageing electric storage heaters and incorrect specification.

Despite this, Dimplex says government incentive schemes are failing to offer the funding needed to support heating system upgrades in electrically-heated homes with modern, smart appliances that can slash heating bills.

The average annual fuel poverty gap in England – the difference between a household’s typical energy bill and the value that their bill would need to be in order for that household to come out of fuel poverty – is £353.

Chris Stammers, Head of Insight for Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, said: “Thousands of households are still paying over the odds unnecessarily for their heating bills, even though modern appliances could lift them out of fuel poverty by dramatically lowering running costs.

“Invariably the issue is the cost of installation – very few homeowners in fuel poverty can afford the upfront cost to install a new heating system, while private and social housing tenants have no choice but to use the heating system they have been given.

“Those with gas central heating systems have access to a number of funding programmes designed to facilitate heating upgrades to improve the energy efficiency of the property, but there is not currently enough support for electrically heated homes.

“For the majority of these properties, switching to gas is not an option. It is either not physically possible or not viable because of the huge costs involved.

“Instead, by extending funding support to electrically heated homes, we could facilitate hundreds of thousands of additional electric heating upgrades. We could replace the ageing storage heating systems and address those incorrect specifications which are contributing to a fuel poverty gap of around £160million. And we could improve daily life for millions of homeowners, private tenants and social housing residents across the UK.”

 

Not enough funding support for electrically heated households, says Dimplex

Not enough funding support for electrically heated households, says Dimplex

 

Source: HVP Magazine

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Join the battle to beat dementia

NICEIC and ELECSA have launched a campaign to encourage electrical contractors to join the fight against dementia.

They are encouraging electrical contractors to give up 15 minutes of their pay this November to raise money for Alzheimer’s research UK. (ARUK)

Every contractor that takes part will be entered into a prize draw to win a year’s free registration with NICEIC or ELECSA worth up to £500.

Electrical contractors have already raised more than £300 in donations but there is still time to raise more.

The campaign will run throughout November and anyone wanting to get involved can do so by signing up here and registering.

 

Join the battle to beat dementia

Join the battle to beat dementia

 

Source: Electrical Times

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Make the perfect builder’s tea

It’s the hot drink guaranteed to put a smile on every tradesman’s face yet few of us get it right – now experts have confirmed how to make the perfect cup of builder’s tea.

Experts at Leasevan.co.uk have revealed the secrets behind every builder’s dream cuppa after tradesmen across the country complained about anaemic brews.

Their Dos and Don’ts guide finally resolves questions such as whether to add milk or hot water first, what type of tea to use, mug requirements and sugar content.

They were driven to release the builder’s brew guidelines after feedback from their customers suggested that homeowners are failing in this most basic and British of duties.

It is crucial to get builder’s tea right, as strong brews are vital for keeping up energy and morale during a long day of physical labour.

Brewers must first ensure the mug is ceramic, and also the right size as anything too large will lead to weaker tea that goes cold before it can be drunk.

Warm the mug with hot water before adding the teabag and remember that builder’s tea must always be English Breakfast.

Hot water should be poured first over the teabag to release more flavour and ensure that the maker can get the perfect colour when adding milk.

Allow it to brew for approximately one minute, and be sure to squash the bag against the side of the mug several times before removing it to keep the tea strong.

Watch carefully as you add the milk dash, as builder’s tea needs to be strong, milky and a light brown biscuity colour.

It is best to keep stirring while pouring in the milk, so that you can see how the colour is developing.

The traditional sugar serving is two teaspoons, but it is best to check individual preferences to be sure. For a perfect finish, add two biscuits or a slice of cake.

Tim Alcock of Leasevan.co.uk said: “Given that we’re supposed to be a nation of tea drinkers, it’s funny how many people don’t know how to make a proper builder’s brew.

“Tradesmen often talk about ‘anaemic tea’ that really isn’t going to give them the energy they need when they’re doing a hard day’s work in the house or garden.

“A cup of proper builder’s tea is a delight and a British staple, and now there’s no excuse to get it wrong.”

Dos and don’ts for true builder’s tea

Do:

Use a teabag – real builder’s tea is never made from loose leaves.

Pour as soon as the kettle has boiled – you want it to be as hot as possible when it hits the teabag. Some people even suggest boiling the kettle once to warm the mug, and then again before you pour.

Brew it properly and make it strong.

Serve with biscuits, ideally digestives or rich tea.

Serve in a light coloured mug. Darker colours make the tea look unappealing.

Don’t:

Use brown sugar or, worse, sweetener. It must be white.

Use decaffeinated tea.

Use Earl Grey, fruit, herbal, peppermint, chai or indeed anything except English Breakfast.

Serve in a china or plastic mug. It needs to be ceramic.

Use skimmed milk – this is just watery disappointment for an otherwise perfect brew.

 

Make the perfect builder's tea

Make the perfect builder’s tea

 

Source: Electrical Contracting News

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£110m Glasgow shopping store to homes scheme approved

Plans to redevelop Glasgow’s former Goldberg’s department store site into a 1,200 flats have been given the thumbs up.

Mace is project manager for developer Candleriggs on the project, which will be one of the biggest undertaken in Glasgow’s city centre since the Buchanan Galleries in the 1990s.

The project involves building a mix of 132 flats for sale, 435 private flats for rent and 586 student rooms, as well as a 124-room hotel and retail space. It is expected to cost over £110m to build.

Work to clear the site and demolish unlisted buildings is expected to begin soon.

The development will be situated on the site bounded by Trongate, Wilson Street, Brunswick Street, Hutcheson Street and Candleriggs.

The gap site had lain derelict since the closure of the Goldbergs store in 1999. It was bought by retail giant Selfridges with the intention of creating a new department store but those plans fell through.

Developers Candleriggs bought the site in 2014. They secured planning permission in 2016 and have since bought several surrounding sites to enlarge the scheme.

Richard Murphy Architects designed the project, with Curtins Consulting on board as consulting engineers and Cundall Johnston & Partners the building services consultant.

 

£110m Glasgow shopping store to homes scheme approved

£110m Glasgow shopping store to homes scheme approved

 

Source: Electrical Times

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£1.4bn Croydon Westfield shopping centre approved

Plans for a £1.4bn Westfield shopping centre in south London have been approved by local councillors.

Work to redevelop Croydon’s Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres is now hoped to begin in 2019.

Up to 1,000 flats will be delivered in five tower blocks overlooking Wellesley Road. The first two buildings will be developed with the construction of the retail scheme, with the remainder being developed in a later phase.

Joint venture specialist retail developers Westfield and Hammerson will redevelop and combine Croydon’s current shopping centres – the Whitgift Centre and Centrale – to create the 1.5m sq ft retail-led scheme.

Plans were first granted permission in 2014, but in October last year an enhanced application was submitted with the addition of a third storey of retail and restaurants, and a new Marks & Spencer store.

Now the council has approved what will be London’s third Westfield shopping complex, it will be passed on to the Mayor of London who will have the final say on whether planning permission should be granted.

If rubber stamped, the 13-month demolition programme would begin next year to clear the vast site.

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council, said: “The new homes and the thousands of jobs this development will bring shows investors are rightly confident about Croydon as a place to live, work and spend free time.

“I am delighted contractors will be on site in 2019 to kick-start the exciting transformation of the heart of our town.”

 

£1.4bn Croydon Westfield shopping centre approved

£1.4bn Croydon Westfield shopping centre approved

 

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Hotcost Limited at Ireland’s Electrical Trade Event

Hotcost Limited at Ireland’s Electrical Trade Event

Hotcost Limited would like to thank each and every one of you that came to visit us at our stand at Ireland’s Electrical Trade Event at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin last week. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of you and we look forward to working with you in the future.

If you missed us at the show don’t worry you can still get in touch with us to discuss all your electrical and mechanical needs.

Also keep an eye on our website and social media channels for news regarding upcoming shows.

 


 

October 2017 Newsletter

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20% of cable in the UK is substandard, non-approved or counterfeit

Prysmian Group, the largest manufacturer of electrical cable in the UK and part of the largest global cable manufacturer, has been campaigning for many years to make the manufacturing and importing of substandard electrical cable into the UK illegal.

“Properly manufactured and tested electrical cable is very safe”, says Llyr Roberts, CEO of Prysmian in the UK, “but cable that is substandard or is being used in the wrong situation is a real hazard that can electrocute and cause fires.”

Industry estimates that 20% of all the cable in the UK is substandard, non-approved or counterfeit (Figures from the Approved Cable Initiative) and that some 4,000 fires in buildings each year are down to faulty electrics (From Home Office Fire Statistics for 2015/2016).

“As a responsible manufacturer, Prysmian ensures that all of its products conform to the most rigorous quality standards and we are appalled that substandard and dangerous cable is still allowed into the UK market.

“For many years we have been calling for appropriate legislation to prevent substandard cable – typically manufactured abroad – being brought into the UK supply chain. We support the British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) and actively promote the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI), both of which have been established and supported by the cable industry to try and stop dangerous cable getting into UK homes.”

The new European Construction Product Regulation (CPR), which came into effect in July 2017, is a step in the right direction. CPR makes it a legal requirement for cable sold in the UK to carry documentary evidence from the manufacturer identifying exactly which standards it conforms to – but even this regulation does not apply to all types of cable.

There is a clear need for straightforward legislation that makes it illegal to import, sell or install cable that is not manufactured and tested to approved and declared BASEC quality standards.

 

20% of cable in the UK is substandard, non-approved or counterfeit

20% of cable in the UK is substandard, non-approved or counterfeit

Source: Electrical Times

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Plastic pipes dominating new build

Plastics are now the dominant material in hot and cold-water supply systems inside buildings.

Data from Pipes and Fittings Market Report – UK 2016-2020 Analysis shows that use of plastic piping systems for water supply in new build is now up to 60%.

An upward trend is similarly being seen, and predicted to continue, for heating with the availability of barrier and multi-layer pipes for central heating and the energy efficiency benefits of warm water underfloor heating (UFH) in providing space heating at lower water temperatures.

While their flexibility, their quick and simple jointing and the added safety of no hot working have all driven this growth, with the large amount of pipework of different materials in existing buildings, it is definitely an advantage to be able to combine plastic with, for example, copper piping systems.

Bathrooms and kitchens are generally replaced due to lifestyle and design choices, and central heating boilers due to system efficiency and lifespan every ten–15 years. Plastic plumbing system manufacturers provide fittings that form reliable joints from plastic pipes to copper and other metallic pipes, which is a boon when refurbishing older properties. Over a property’s lifetime, the plumbing system can transition to plastic piping with the many in-service benefits of low thermal conductivity (safer to touch), low noise transmission (no creaking pipes), smooth bore (minimises limescale build-up), thermal expansion (reduced risk of bursts during frosts) and inherent corrosion resistance (cleaner heating system).

Well-engineered joint designs have made plastic piping very easy to work with and so, the material of choice for busy plumbers and larger-scale installers. Pipe coils can easily be cut to size, offering flexibility for even the most awkward applications – threading through joists, sitting beneath floors – and with a wide range of push-fit, press-fit and welded joints, ensure that connections are secure and leak-tight.

Gareth Samuel, of BPF Pipes Group, said: “As installer confidence grows, so do the number of applications in which we now routinely see plastic piping systems. The BPF Pipes Group guidance on the use of plastics for discharge pipework from unvented hot water systems sets out the range of materials which can safely be used for discharge pipes and soil stacks taking discharges.

“Underfloor heating systems provide an attractive alternative to radiators – the massive performance improvements offered by warm water UFH systems over electric systems and the dust-generating hot air systems means that this is a real option not only for commercial properties and luxury homes but also for housing developments and self-builders. All this has been made possible by the availability of well-designed and quality assured plastic pipes.”

 

Plastic pipes dominating new build

Plastic pipes dominating new build

Source: Heating & Plumbing Monthly Magazine

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Brits fearful of smart home revolution

MoneySuperMarket reveals that the nation has deep concerns about the impending smart home revolution, despite the likely cost savings. 76% of Brits admitting to being ‘fearful’ of the smart homes concept, with unapproved data collection cited as the greatest worry.

Other concerns include the technology being hacked by criminals (51%), being made unusable by a virus (43%) and recording you without your knowledge (42%).

The UK’s leading price comparison website polled over 2,000 people to get the nation’s opinions on smart home technology and the so-called Internet of Things.

The research found that whilst the majority (77%) of Brits had heard of a ‘connected’ home, only 6% claimed to know a lot about smart home technology. The most popular gadget was a smart TV, with 30% of Brits owning one, followed by a smart energy meter (16%). However, when asked what smart home gadget they would like to see invented, Brits were both practical and imaginative.

Answers ranged from self-cleaning ovens (29%), self-emptying bins (11%) and self-pouring wine fridges (5%), to smart dog walkers and self-emptying dishwashers. More outlandish suggestions included auto-spray devices that would deal with cold callers and robot dogs with the ability to do chores.

Despite public concern, the benefits of investing in smart home technology are likely to outweigh the fears. The convenience, security and cost-saving elements of owning a connected home can be advantageous and it is predicted that there will be 25-30 billion ‘Internet of Things’ devices worldwide by the early 2020s.

Smart home technology focused on home security and fire prevention benefits insurers as it reduces claims, with insurers then able to pass these savings on to consumers. 58% of Brits said they would buy a smart device if helped them save money on their home insurance. To help consumers understand the facts about smart homes and see how they could benefit, MoneySuperMarket has launched its Connected Homes Hub.

Dan Plant, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “Smart technology promises to transform our homes by enhancing security, improving energy efficiency and generally making our domestic lives smoother and more efficient. However, many people are understandably anxious that the benefits will be countered by threats, such as hacking and loss of privacy.

“It’s up to the makers of smart devices and applications to reassure consumers that they are not putting themselves at risk. And it’s also vital that any cost savings that flow from adopting connected technology, such as reduced pay-outs for burglary claims, are passed on to customers in the form of lower home insurance premiums.”

 

Brits fearful of smart home revolution

Brits fearful of smart home revolution

Source: Electrical Times

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Decarbonising heat priority for boiler installations with new legislation

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced Boiler Plus, which encourages energy efficiency by mandating requirements for heating systems, setting out new expectations regarding what both manufacturers and installers have to deliver.

Alongside a host of other measures, this policy will require a new minimum performance standard for domestic gas boilers in English homes of 92% ErP. The ErP Directive aims to phase out poorly performing products across a range of product groups to reduce carbon emissions across Europe, with the ultimate goal of achieving the EU’s 2020 targets.

The legislation will require all those fitting new combination boilers to include one of the following in their system:

  • Flue gas heat recovery systems
  • Weather compensation
  • Load compensation
  • Smart controls featuring automation and optimisation functions.

The premise of the legislation is that it will encourage, and enable, householders to make informed decisions about the products that best meet their needs. The degree of flexibility in terms of which entities render a new boiler ‘compliant’ means that the diversity of the house stock and needs of the consumer are catered for.

Given the extent to which domestic heating contributes to emissions, the new standards, coming into effect in April 2018, will help reduce carbon emissions by 2 MtCO2e in the fourth Carbon Budget and 3.2 MtCO2e in the fifth Carbon Budget, and encourage consumers to prioritise the thermal comfort and energy efficiency of their heating.

 

Decarbonising heat priority for boiler installations with new legislation

Decarbonising heat priority for boiler installations with new legislation

Source: HVP Magazine

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Old bananas and potatoes to become building materials

Organic waste like bananas and potatoes could soon be used as building materials.

Consultant Arup believes millions of tonnes of food waste could be turned into lower-CO2 products such as bricks, insulation and partition boards.

Current organic materials under development include mushroom bricks grown in five days and waste potatoes used as insulation and acoustic absorbers.

Arup has created the Solar Leaf – the first façade system in the world cultivating micro-algae to generate heat and biomass and BioBuild – the first self-supporting façade panel made out of bio-composite materials.

Guglielmo Carra Arup’s Materials Consulting Lead, Europe said: “As one of the world’s largest users of resources we need to move away from our ‘take, use, dispose’ mentality.

“There are already pockets of activity, with some producers making lower-CO2 building products from organic materials.

“What we need now is for the industry to come together to scale up this activity so that it enters the mainstream.

“An important first step is to work with government to rethink construction codes and regulations to consider waste as a resource, opening up the opportunity to repurpose it on an industrial-scale. ”  

For a full copy of the report The Urban Bio-Loop: Growing, Making and Regenerating click here.

The report highlights the following organic matter products already available:

  • Peanuts: shells are being used to produce low-cost materials, such as partition boards that are resistant to moisture and flame retardant.
  • Rice: rice husk ash can be mixed with cement to reduce the need for fillers. Rice can also be used as a raw material for the production of boards.
  • Banana: banana fruit and leaves are being used to make rugged textiles. Bananas contain high strength fibre and have good acoustic absorption and durability.
  • Potato: the peel from potatoes can be cleaned, pressed and dried to create a low-weight, fire resistant, water repellent, insulating material and acoustic absorber.

 

Old bananas and potatoes to become building materials

Old bananas and potatoes to become building materials

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Mayor of London wants wood burning stoves banned in capital

A call by London mayor Sadiq Khan for a ban on wood burning stoves in some areas of the capital has been challenged by Specflue.

According to a report in The Guardian on September 29, Mr Khan said: “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles.

“I am calling on the government to provide the capital with the necessary powers to effectively tackle harmful emissions from a variety of sources.”

Ian Sams, commercial director of Specflue, believes Mr Khan is focusing on the wrong target.

“The volume of particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere caused by wood burning depends on how the wood is burnt rather than the stove used to burn it,” he said. “Particulates come from incomplete burning of wood, but modern wood burning stoves are highly efficient at doing this.”

Dennis Milligan, head of communications at the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), said: “Eco-design, a measure introduced by the European Commission to improve the efficiency of appliances and lead to lower emissions, covers a wide range of emissions from PM to carbon dioxide, NOx, other carbon gases compounds and carbon monoxide.

“Although there is no obligation for stoves to meet the stringent emission limits set out in Eco-design until 2022, the SIA has taken the initiative by making ‘Eco-design Ready’ stoves available now.

“All new stove models developed from now on will meet the emission limits and, by 2020, the main manufacturers in the SIA will only produce stoves that meet Eco-design requirements.”

Research from Kings College London suggests that, in winter time, wood burning accounts for about ten per cent of the PM emissions in London. But a survey of 1,000 users of wood burning stoves and open fires throughout the UK found that 70% of the wood burned in London is burnt on an open fire. An ‘Eco-design Ready’ stove reduces emissions by 90%, compared with an open fire.

Ian concluded: “Eco-design will be accompanied by the Eco label, already seen on white goods such as fridges. From January 1 next year, every wood burning stove will have to display a label. Most modern stoves are expected to come in at the A and A+, with pellet-burning stoves achieving A++.”

 

Mayor of London wants wood burning stoves banned in capital

Mayor of London wants wood burning stoves banned in capital

Source: Heating & Plumbing Monthly Magazine

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New survey shows uplifts in skills, techniques and manufacturing levels

UK Construction Week brought together a wide spectrum of the construction trade together over three days at the NEC Birmingham (10-12 October). Ahead of the event, UK Construction Week conducted a Brexit survey from over 2,500 industry leaders. The survey canvassed architects, contractors, SME builders, surveyors, engineers, local authorities and many more.

The survey clearly shows the UK Construction industry wants to discuss the positive impacts of Brexit, with the majority of respondents believing it will force us to solve the skills shortage once and for all by investing in younger generations and encouraging them into the sector. This places extra emphasis on making sure the CITB is fit for purpose, and also supports the Farmer Report, Modernise or Die.It also points to resurgence in British building materials, as contractors and house builders protect themselves from any tariffs in future, but also to taking advantage of a blossoming UK manufacturing base. This week’s UK Construction Week is a perfect demonstration of this with major British firms taking centre stage, such as Easy-Trim (Roofing and sealants), Forterra (Bricks and Building Materials), Tufeco (Modular Housing), Potterton (Heating), Portakabin (Modular Buildings) and HG Matthews (Bricks).Offsite and Modular construction are also cited as a solution to build quicker in post BREXIT Britain. Event director, Nathan Garnett said “Offsite and Modular Construction is a major theme of UK Construction week in 2017 with over 100 manufacturers and suppliers in the sector exhibiting, an increase of 65% on last year. This is a reflection of how Offsite construction has now become accepted as a mainstream method of construction, increasing speed and productivity in the sector.”The best possible example of home grown manufacturing and skills can be exemplified by the stunning world premiere of a two-story modular house at the show. Jon Gunn, CEO of Tufeco and a partner at ATELIO, said: “We see tremendous opportunity in the next few years for us as British manufacturers of world class modular buildings. We have worked in collaboration with Grimshaw, so our project is a real testament to UK skills and knowledge, and are confident our product can be a real advantage in the challenge to build the homes we need in the next decade.”One of UK Construction Week and Timber Expo’s partners, Dougal Driver, CEO of Grown in Britain, said:”It is great to hear the UK Construction Week survey indicates support for British made materials. British-grown timber returns social and economic value back to communities here in the UK, supporting rural jobs and local economies.”Key survey findings:

  • 64% believe BREXIT will force us to solve the skills crisis and invest in younger generations
  • Over 50% said it will make us buy British Building Materials
  • 43% believe building material costs will stabilise and 10% think materials prices may actually 
go down
  • 53% said we will embrace offsite manufacturing as a solution to the challenges ahead

Whilst leaving the EU poses challenges, the construction industry is already looking ahead to the positives outcomes Brexit could bring. The UKCW survey however has laid down a very clear mandate for the UK Government to invest more in apprenticeships and support British manufacturing.

 

New survey shows uplifts in skills, techniques and manufacturing levels

New survey shows uplifts in skills, techniques and manufacturing levels

Source: Electrical Review

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Landlords up their game on energy, but one in 20 rentals still pose hazard

According to a new study by AXA, the private rental sector has seen a rapid improvement in energy efficiency over the past two years, but properties are not meeting standards.

The number of worst-rated properties has halved, and rentals come out better on boiler upgrades, insulation and smart meters than owner-occupied homes. Despite this, one in twenty rentals still breach minimum standards set to come into force next April. These pockets of inefficiency mean that tenants are over-paying on energy by an estimated £13 million every month.

Energy is certainly a priority for UK tenants, as cold and damp were named the biggest bugbears by 43% of those surveyed. A quarter said they felt they were paying excess bills due to the energy inefficiency of their homes.

The study found that one in 20 rental properties pose an “excess cold hazard” to residents as they fall into the worst-rated bands F and G. This means that more than 200,000 homes are now at risk of being banned from the private rental market next April when minimum standards come into force.

Just how much these failing homes are costing tenants was revealed by analysis of their monthly bills. The average monthly bill in a Band A rental is £61 per month, increasing to £76 in Band E, and then £112 in Bands F to G. This means that UK tenants are still paying for energy failings to the tune of an estimated £13 million every month.

The good news is that the number of failing properties is declining fast. The study found that the number of F and G banded rentals has halved since 2015, when official estimates put them at one in 10. More than half of tenants surveyed by AXA said their current rentals are in bands A to C.

Gareth Howell, Managing Director at AXA Direct, said: “Our study has found that landlords are making significant investments into improving the energy efficiency of their properties. This is part of a bigger trend: when we look at our surveys of tenants and landlords over the past five years, we see progress across the board – on security, maintenance and numbers with proper tenancy agreements in place.

“Many landlords we speak to are ‘accidentals’, who typically own one or two properties. They are, by and large, investing more seriously in their tenants’ comfort and the future health of their rental properties. Pockets of failure exist in this market, but it is not the story for the 95% of landlords who are trying to do the right thing.”

 

Landlords up their game on energy, but one in 20 rentals still pose hazard

Landlords up their game on energy, but one in 20 rentals still pose hazard

Source: HVP Magazine

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easyJet and Wright Electric to fly electrical planes

easyJet, Europe’s leading airline and US company Wright Electric have set themselves the challenge of building an all-electric commercial passenger jet capable of flying passengers across easyJet’s UK and European network within a decade.

The new Airbus A320 neo aircraft will bring significant environmental and operational benefits – up to 15 percent saving in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, and a reduced noise footprint of 50 percent on take-off and landing providing a benefit to airport neighbourhood communities.

easyJet is also introducing new electric, towbarless aircraft tugs and it was announced that a partnership with Safran to trial e-taxi hydrogen fuel cell technology will be implemented in the coming months in what will be a revolutionary zero emissions taxiing system for its aircraft.

Since 2000, easyJet’s emissions have reduced by over 31% per passenger kilometre in 2016. easyJet has a carbon emissions target of 72 grams by 2022, which would be a 10% reduction from today’s performance and a 38% improvement from 2000.

Finally, easyJet announced it will offer inflight entertainment for the first time with ‘Air Time’ – offering passengers prime time content on their devices for free.

 

easyJet and Wright Electric to fly electrical planes

easyJet and Wright Electric to fly electrical planes

Source: Electrical Times

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Virtual reality backpack allows site walk throughs

Tech giant HP has launched a virtual reality backpack with major potential uses in the construction industry.

The Z VR Backpack is wearable as a workstation and connects easily to VR goggles.

It means construction professionals can wander easily through buildings enjoying a virtual walk through simulating any stage of the build process.

The backpack will be making its UK debut at Digital Construction Week alongside all the latest hi-tech industry innovations.

It has been developed from an original model designed for gamers after HP realised the potential for business users.

A Digital Construction Week spokesman said: “Use of VR technologies has increased dramatically across the built environment in recent years.

“Applications have moved on from basic stakeholder engagement to in depth walk throughs and project delivery planning to use in health and safety and onsite training.

“The backpack will offer greater flexibility and open up a number of new opportunities for users looking to explore large areas in virtual reality or requiring greater range of movement.”

 

Virtaul reality backpack allows site walk throughs

Virtaul reality backpack allows site walk throughs

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Our Glasgow Office is Now Open!

Our Glasgow Office is Now Open!

Hotcost are very pleased and proud to announce the opening of our new office based in Glasgow.

Due to the continued growth in 2016 and 2017, we are extremely excited to open our new office in Glasgow. This new location will enable us to continue to provide our quality, comprehensive and cost-effective estimates for Electrical & Mechanical companies in Scotland.

For more information please call us on 0800 052 6115 or email client@hotcost.co.uk

Hotcost Limited at the ED&I Expo

Hotcost Limited at the ED&I Expo

Hotcost Limited would like to thank each and every one of you that came to visit us at our stand at the ED&I Expo at the NEC in Birmingham last week. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of you and we look forward to working with you in the future…

 

Hotcost Limited at the ED&I Expo

Hotcost Limited at the ED&I Expo

 

Hotcost Limited at the ED&I Expo

Hotcost Limited at the ED&I Expo

 

If you missed us at the show don’t worry you can still get in touch with us to discuss all your electrical and mechanical needs.

Also keep an eye on our website and social media channels for news regarding upcoming shows.

September 2017 Newsletter

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24% growth in UK M&E contracting Sector

The UK market for mechanical and electrical (M&E) contracting has increased by almost 25% since 2012, following a period of sustained growth from 2013 onwards.

The was driven by a buoyant new build market, with rising output in the office and infrastructure sectors in particular. This growth continued in 2016, when the market saw growth of 4%, despite continued constrained public sector capital spending. In 2017, growth is forecast to stagnate, as construction output becomes more subdued.

Many factors support a continuation of market growth, including the development of higher specification and more complex products, changes to legislation requiring the specification of higher value products, greater use of controls and energy efficient products, continued strength in data centre construction as well as greater levels of outsourcing of M&E services.

“A key area of growth has been installations aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, driven by legislative requirements and building regulations.” said Fiona Watts, Editor at AMA Research. “There has been a rapid expansion in the range of LED lighting and increasingly sophisticated control systems for heating, lighting, and energy management, therefore this is a growth area that many contractors have been looking to exploit.”

However, several factors are negatively impacting the market at present, such as public-sector budget constraints, uncertainty over the impact of Brexit and greater use of off-site manufactured panels and modules.

The M&E market is fragmented, with the majority of market value accounted for by smaller operators with turnover of under £20 million, though consolidation activity amongst suppliers continues. There have been further strategic acquisitions in response to the growing focus on integrated services within the sector, with contractors widening the range of services offered and examples of strategic joint ventures to secure work on very large-scale projects.

In terms of market prospects, the M&E sector is heavily dependent on the performance of the non-residential construction industry. Non-residential construction output is facing subdued growth into the medium term. Furthermore, new non-residential work remains highly susceptible to changes in levels of business confidence with the private commercial sector being particularly vulnerable to changes in speculative development programmes.

The current uncertain economic climate and falling levels of business confidence relating to Brexit and other issues is likely to halt growth within the M&E contracting sector within the short term, although there are positive influences on market value that will underpin growth to some extent, including a relatively stable RMI sector and increasing prices of imported products. Output within the office and education sectors, which accounted for over 45% of the M&E market in 2016, is expected to decline until 2018. Overall, it is estimated that the market will remain flat through to 2018, then return to growth from 2019 onwards but at a modest rate of 1-2% per annum.

24% growth in UK M&E contracting Sector

24% growth in UK M&E contracting Sector

Source: Professional Electrician & Installer

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Retailers need to rediscover the role of lighting design

While the release of the latest immigration statistics and GCSE results have dominated the national news agenda, the news that online and high street retail sales declined year on year to August* seems to have slipped through the net.

Commenting on the news, Bob Hall, MD of Greenlite Group said, “Although the summer started well, the recent news clearly illustrates what difficult times these are for retailers, both online and on the high street. It’s encouraging to read that the survey reports sales growth is expected to recover, in the long term, although pressure on household budgets is set to persist given there is little sign of wages picking up.

“Clearly the onus in on retailers to ‘up their game’; whether by discounting or if they focus more on enhancing the shopping experience itself. At Greenlite we’re advising our retail customers to rediscover the role of lighting design in creating a sense of ‘theatre’, encouraging customers back to the high street for a fuller shopping experience.

“In addition, savvy retailers will take advantage of technologies rather than shying away from them. For example, the rise of the changing room selfie (chelfie) means fashion retailers have the perfect opportunity to use well-designed, flattering lighting and well positioned mirrors, enabling shoppers to send that image to their friends for feedback.

“If they look and feel good, if the feedback is positive then they are more likely to make that purchase – all because the retailer thought about how the customer feels and how to enhance their experience.”

Retailers need to rediscover the role of lighting design

Retailers need to rediscover the role of lighting design

Source: Electrical Times

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32% of people would not recognise CO poisoning

Dr Ranj Singh is supporting Gas Safety Week to raise awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and its symptoms, as nearly a third of people would not recognise them.

According to Gas Safe Register, one in 10 don’t know the symptoms of CO poisoning symptoms. These symptoms (including headaches, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, dizziness and loss of consciousness) are misdiagnosed by many as:

  • Concussion (37%)
  • Meningitis (36%)
  • A panic attack (27%)
  • A stroke (22%)
  • Flu (19%).

Gas Safe Register is urging people to learn the symptoms of potential CO poisoning, and what action to take if they suspect they or someone in their family may be suffering from it.

Dr Singh said: “You can’t see, taste or smell CO, so it’s really important that people become more aware of its poisoning symptoms. As Gas Safe Register’s research has found, many confuse CO poisoning for other illnesses such as flu, but CO poisoning can be fatal so it’s important that we raise awareness this Gas Safety Week so that families can take the right precautions and stay safe.”

32% of people would not recognise CO poisoning

32% of people would not recognise CO poisoning

Source: HVP Magazine

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Wellbeing key to skills shortage

The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) calls upon the sector to embrace wellbeing into their business culture to address the ongoing skills shortage.

According to the BCIA, wellbeing is a growing trend, one which is here to stay. Research has shown that wellbeing is vital in attracting and retaining individuals in their professional capacity. However, it is not yet a major focus on all business agendas.

In this tough economic climate, there is increasing competition for talent across all industries. Understanding the impact of wellbeing will go a long way in not only attracting fresh new talent, but also in retaining industry stalwarts.

An organisation that considers the wellbeing of its workforce will be a popular choice as an employer. It has been proven that employees who feel comfortable in their working environment, will feel more loyal and connected to their organisation and go that extra mile in their work.

In 2016, sick days in the UK cost over £137 million to businesses. With most individuals spending over 90% of their time indoors, it is imperative that our working environment brings out the best in us, rather than making us ill, unproductive or unhappy. Therefore, if wellbeing is embedded into the business culture, the building controls industry will reap huge benefits.

This in turn leads to a sustainable future which will see the sector flourish. In this technologically advanced age, buildings are now expected to be intelligent. This now needs to evolve to include smart working environments which can be adapted to the needs of individuals.

Malcolm Anson, President of the BCIA said, “As I see it, wellbeing is something that needs to be taken into account across the whole built environment. By being proactive and considering individuals’ needs, we can help address the country’s ongoing skills shortage.” www.bcia.co.uk

Wellbeing key to skills shortage

Wellbeing key to skills shortage

Source: Electrical Times

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Plans in for major London City fringe offices

Plans have been lodged for a 750,000 sq ft office-led mixed-use complex on the London City fringe near Finsbury Circus.

Joint developer Manford Properties and Great Elm Assets is planning to knock down existing 7 and 9-storey 1970s offices to make way for the big new scheme rising to 27 storeys.

It will be located at 20 Ropemaker Street, 101-117 Finsbury Pavement near to City Point, a taller 35-storey building in Finsbury.

Designed by architect Make, its characteristic stepped design for the office complex consists of four linked vertical blocks, topping out at 129m with the tallest part ornamented with a clock.

The building will include three basement levels for retail, cycle parking and changing facilities.

London’s Islington Council will give its verdict on the scheme in several weeks.

Plans in for major London City fringe offices

Plans in for major London City fringe offices

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Nine out of 10 installers carrying the card

New research reveals that more installers than ever are carrying their Gas Safe Register card with them while on a job.

The survey, carried out amongst ATAG Heating Technology’s Selected Partners, revealed that 92% of ATAG’s installer network always carry their Gas Safe card when working.

Of those, two in three carry their card on their person, with the remainder keeping it in their vans. One third of installers are showing it to customers when entering their homes without being prompted.

However, 40% of those surveyed said that homeowners never asked to see their credentials, while one in three said it only happens once every 50 appointments on average.

As well as their Gas Safe card, one in three installers say that they display their credentials on their van as a further public display of their qualifications.

Sam Browne, Managing Director of ATAG, said: “It’s incredibly heartening that so many ATAG installers have their Gas Safe card with them at all times. All of our Technical Product Managers, who are themselves qualified Gas Safe registered engineers, proudly carry their cards. We encourage all of our Partners to prominently wear their Gas Safe cards to provide immediate reassurance and confidence when in a customer’s home.

“Small changes in behaviour like this will do so much to improve gas safety standards

across the country. We’re proud to be supporting the efforts of Gas Safe Register and Gas Safety Trust not only during the national campaign week, but all year round.”

Nine out of 10 installers carrying the card

Nine out of 10 installers carrying the card

Source: HVP Magazine

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Schneider study reveals struggle to be sustainable

Schneider Electric has launched a report that reveals 87% of UK organisations surveyed find themselves torn between doing the right thing for the environment and meeting the business objectives of today.

The Secret to Sustainable Success study has found that while businesses understand the need to become more sustainable in the face of increasing energy demands, nine in ten UK organisations are primarily focused on the short-term economic outlook with only one in ten focused on delivering transformational change.

According to the report, energy consumption is expected to increase by a factor of 1.5 in the next 40 years. To meet climate targets, CO2 emissions must be halved, says Schneider Electric.

Although 79% of organisations feel confident that they can overcome the challenges presented by the increased demand for energy and create a sustainable business for the future, only 13% feel well prepared to address the rapid growth in energy demands.

When looking at how they can address these coming mega trends, 71% of decision-makers believe they will need to go through a period of tougher economic times to deliver a better, more sustainable business. The report illustrates that the mindset around energy usage needs to fundamentally change to deliver against sustainability objectives.

According to the report, almost half of the organisations surveyed are targeting this change through innovation projects – whether it be to use less energy by finding efficiencies in operations, embracing robotics to address the skills gap or adding sensors to identify maintenance needs before they occur.

Additionally, 70% of the businesses surveyed are actively considering digitising operations moving forward. This consideration is triggered by a reduction in energy usage (89.%) and overhead costs (89.9%).

Another 69% of the decision-makers within these business expect to see a noticeable rate of return for digital investments within the first 12 months.

Schneider study reveals struggle to be sustainable

Schneider study reveals struggle to be sustainable

Source: Electrical Contracting News

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Gas Safety Week jingle urges UK homeowners to take Gas Safety seriously

According to research, jingles rattle around our heads for an average of 50 hours a year. That’s 58 minutes a week, lasting around 17 minutes at a time. Imagine if those 58 minutes a week were spent thinking about gas safety?

James Elmy, @the24hrplumber on Twitter, hopes that his memorable three-verse tune will be a lifesaver too after being unveiled as the Installers First Gas Safe Jingle winner. The full version can be seen on YouTube.

James said: “I am over the moon to have won and hope my jingle will help people all over the UK to remember to put gas safety first by getting a regular boiler check, and to only employ reputable tradespeople who are Gas Safe-registered.”

He also won a new Baxi EcoBlue+ combi boiler and Sentinel gift box, plus may have his jingle produced for use by Installers First to continue to promote the messages throughout Gas Safety Week (18-24 September 2017) and beyond.

Gas Safety Week jingle urges UK homeowners to take Gas Safety seriously

Gas Safety Week jingle urges UK homeowners to take Gas Safety seriously

Source: HVP Magazine

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ECS Labourer Card requirements are changing

The application criteria for the ECS Labourer Card are being amended, to reinforce the fact that only those working in the electrotechnical industry are eligible for a card.

Changes implemented by CSCS mean that labourers within the construction industry are required to take a health and safety qualification. This has led to a number of individuals outside of the electrical industry applying for an ECS Labourer card to bypass the new measures that have been introduced.

From 01 October 2017, applicants will need to prove as part of their application that they are employed by an electrical contractor, or other electrotechnical employer.

“The ECS Labourer card is for those working in the electrotechnical industry with a specific role to assist skilled staff in the fitting, setting up and assembly of electrical installations,” said Steve Brawley, chief executive of the JIB who administers the ECS card in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“It must not be seen as an easy way for non-electrical operatives to gain a CSCS partner card for access to sites, therefore we’re introducing this measure to safeguard the card and the legitimate Electrical Labourer cardholders.”

For more information on the ECS card visit www.ecscard.org.uk

ECS Labourer Card requirements are changing

ECS Labourer Card requirements are changing

Source: Electrical Times

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Civil engineers launch Project 13 collaboration drive

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has launched an initiative that it hopes will result in a more efficient, productive and profitable construction industry.

The initiative, called Project 13, appears to be an attempt to replicate working models in the water industry, where contractors and consultants regularly work in alliances, and use this model more widely on other civil engineering projects.

According the ICE, Project 13 will “establish a better business model for infrastructure delivery, improving productivity, performance and mitigating the skills risk. By working with suppliers, contractors and clients it will set out a clear ambition for what this new model should look like across the whole supply chain and life of the assets.”

It adds: “We are in the development phase, designing a blueprint for the future of our industry based on an enterprise relationship that maximises performance rather than a transactional one which transfers risk. By using examples of the best current practice and applying these lessons across the whole industry we aim to create a step-change that will deliver better outcomes across the board.”

It is not entirely clear how this initiative differs from all previous attempts by the construction industry to improve itself, such as Latham and Egan, who set out to end the use of adversarial contract forms.

However, ICE director general Nick Baveystock said: “Our industry is often criticised for low productivity and concentrating too much on margins. Project 13 is the industry’s attempt to address these issues.”

By March 2018 a support package will be available to help clients and suppliers to move to “the new model” of project delivery. This support will take the form of advisory support, tools, guidance and peer review.

KPMG and Anglian Water are involved. Richard Threlfall from KPMG said “Project 13 is a concerted effort to transform the UK construction industry. It requires us to change how we think and act, and crucially how we work together. It won’t be easy but the prize is a world-class industry and better outcomes for our society.”

Dale Evans from Anglian Water said: “The traditional transactional and disaggregated approach to procurement has not only failed for deliver the levels of improvement seen in other sectors, in an increasingly digitally enabled world are not fit for purpose. Project 13 has clearly demonstrated that we must make the shift to delivering through integrated, collaborative and highly aligned enterprises.”

Civil engineers launch Project 13 collaboration drive

Civil engineers launch Project 13 collaboration drive

Source: The Construction Index

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July 2017 Newsletter

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Extra Tests for cladding and insulation following Grenfell fire

The government has ordered further tests on cladding and insulation in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

The extra tests will help landlords decide on any remedial action needed to make buildings safer.

These large scale tests will help establish how different types of Aluminium Composite Material panels in combination with different types of insulation behave in a fire.

Tests will look at three different types of ACM cladding combined with different types of insulation in accordance with British Standard 8414.

This involves building a 9 metre tall demonstration wall with a complete cladding system – including panels and insulation – fixed to it, and then subjecting it to a fire that replicates a severe fire in a flat breaking out of a window and whether it then spread up the outside wall.

Six combinations of cladding systems will be subjected to the BS8414 test procedure.

The six systems will incorporate each of the three common types of aluminium composite material panels, with core filler materials of unmodified polyethylene, fire retardant polyethylene, and non-combustible mineral.

The two insulation materials used in the testing will be rigid polyisocyanurate foam or non-combustible mineral wool.

The Building Research Establishment will undertake these tests “as a matter of urgency” and the results will be made publicly available.

Extra Tests for cladding and insulation following Grenfell fire

Extra Tests for cladding and insulation following Grenfell fire

Source: Construction Enquirer

Top of Page


Four in ten homeowners want solar and energy storage packages

Homeowners looking to save money and improve their level of energy efficiency are looking at a solar/energy storage package to cut their electricity bills.

According to findings from new research by E.ON, when asked about the types of smart technologies people would want in their homes by 2020, four in ten (44%) said they’d like solar panels and/or an electricity battery storage system, more than a third (35%) would like smart lighting, a fifth (20%) wanted a voice controlled smart hub and 13% would like a charging point for an electric car.

But when it comes to solar energy, a number of myths persist with 17% of those questioned mistakenly thinking that solar panels only generate electricity when it’s sunny and one in ten (11%) wrongly believing that solar panels don’t work in cold climates.

Of those surveyed, almost one in ten (9%) homeowners said they already have solar panels. Of these, more than three quarters (76%) said they’re saving money, almost two thirds (65%) said their home is more energy efficient, and almost a third (30%) said they’ve seen the value of their property increase – all as a result of having solar panels installed.

What’s more, four in ten (41%) of those asked said that having a solar panel and battery system would make a potential home more appealing to them if they were looking to buy.

Gavin Stokes, head of Commercial Solutions at E.ON UK, said: “Many of the people we spoke to are already aware of the benefits solar and battery systems can bring – from saving money, to having a more energy efficient home, to making homes more appealing to buyers.”

The research with 2,000 homeowners has been conducted to investigate the nation’s attitudes to the smart solutions available today and in the future. It reveals that the majority of people have already taken steps to make their homes smarter with a third (34%) planning further upgrades.

 

Four in ten homeowners want solar and energy storage packages

Four in ten homeowners want solar and energy storage packages

Source: Electrical Times

Top of Page


Energy networks making £7.5bn in “unjustified profit” over eight year period, Citizens Advice claims

Citizens Advice is calling for energy network companies to return money to consumers through a rebate. Energy consumers are subsidising £7.5bn in profits made by the businesses responsible for the UK’s gas and electricity networks over an 8-year period, new research from Citizens Advice reveals.

The national charity has published new research, which estimates that key decisions made by the energy regulator Ofgem are allowing energy network companies to make billions in returns on their capital investments, without reflecting how efficient they have been.

Ofgem has said it will set tougher limits on the money that energy networks can make from 2021 and has said that when it sets the next price control for these companies, they should expect lower returns.

Citizens Advice has also called on the energy network firms to return their excess profits from the current price control to consumers through a rebate on their bills.

Energy networks are regulated monopolies – meaning it is not practical for there to be competition between them to drive down the amount consumers pay. Ofgem forecasts the costs for building and maintaining energy networks – including the cost of staff, materials, and the cost of capital used to finance investment – as well as estimating the level of business risk for investors. Energy network companies’ profits are taken from the difference between their actual costs and the amount that Ofgem allows for these costs.

In its new report, Citizens Advice finds three key decisions by Ofgem that are costing consumers money by being favourable to energy network companies’ interests over the current 8 year period – called a “price control.”

First, costing consumers £3bn, Ofgem overestimated the business risk for investors in energy networks. They estimated that energy networks are 90-100% as risky as the average company but market data suggested a more reasonable figure would be 60%;

Second, costing consumers £3.4bn, Ofgem assumed interest rates and returns for government bonds would be higher than they were;

Third, costing consumers £1.1bn, the financial incentives Ofgem has put in place to reward efficiency – such as allowing energy network companies to keep some of the underspend on projects as profit – actually rewarded companies that inflated their initial estimates for the cost of staff and materials.

Energy networks making £7.5bn in "unjustified profit" over eight year period, Citizens Advice claims

Energy networks making £7.5bn in “unjustified profit” over eight year period, Citizens Advice claims

Source: HVP Magazine

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1 in 3 consumers back government changes to smart meter rollout plans

Nearly a third of consumers in the UK back changes to government policy scrapping a commitment to install smart meters in 26 million homes by the end of the decade, new research has found.

As announced in the Queen’s speech, Theresa May’s government will continue to encourage homes to have the energy monitoring devices installed, but has now said that homeowners will be offered the choice to have a meter put in their homes, rather than being forced to do so.

The change comes as new research by Echo Managed Services found that 31% of customers think they should be given the choice about whether to have a smart meter installed or not.

Last week’s announcement is a watering down of then Prime Minister David Cameron’s government’s plan to install 47 million meters into all UK households, however, it is claimed that this new plan will still provide savings of £300 million annually by 2020, increasing to £1.2bn by 2030.

Commenting on the announcement and research findings, Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at Echo Managed Services, said: “Giving customers a choice about the services and products they use is a key factor in successful consumer relations and this announcement will be welcomed by homeowners.

“We know there is an appetite for smart meters among UK homeowners, but one of the most common complaints we heard was that people thought this rollout was being enforced on them without properly understanding the benefits so this decision will go some way to calming those issues. In addition, clearly articulating the benefits of meters to customers is vital, without this it can’t be expected that householders will readily agree to meter installation.”

These findings come at the same time similar research revealed that one in five customers could resist having a smart meter installed, primarily due to concerns over data security and privacy.

1 in 3 consumers back government changes to smart meter rollout plans

1 in 3 consumers back government changes to smart meter rollout plans

Source: Electrical Times

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APHC encourages plumbing and heating businesses to use social media

With Quality Plumber Week fast approaching, the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) is urging more plumbing and heating engineers to use social media.

John Thompson the CEO of APHC, said: “Over the past decade, companies have embraced social media as a valuable marketing tool. Right now, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are at the forefront and can be impactful marketing tools, giving plumbing and heating businesses the ability to communicate with customers and potential customers directly.

“The most important bit of advice I would give when looking to build a social media network of followers is to not focus on quantity, like gathering tens of thousands of followers, but to focus on gaining meaningful engagement and page impressions from a relevant social media network.

“To do this, I would look to engage with local people and companies whom you may have an affinity with; do they have the same customer base? Find them, follow them and engage with them. Retweet and repost their content and look for opportunities to feature them in your content. In time, you will find their audience becomes your audience.”

  • APHC recommends using social media to:
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Generate questions and enquiries from potential customers
  • Share helpful information
  • Promote deals and special offers
  • Share industry relevant news
  • Encourage customers to leave positive feedback
  • Get behind important causes
  • Network with other professionals and exchange tips.

“If your plumbing and heating business has yet to gain an online social presence, it is not too late to get started. You can sign up for a social media account for free and begin engaging with your audience immediately,” John concluded.

APHC is running Quality Plumber Week between 2nd – 6th October to celebrate the skilled work plumbing and heating engineers carry out every day. You can get involved on Twitter by tweeting using #QPW17 and on Facebook and LinkedIn by mentioning ‘Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors’ or @APHC_UK on Twitter.

During Quality Plumber Week, APHC will be asking the industry to showcase their work and say what makes them a quality plumber.

APHC encourages plumbing and heating businesses to use social media

APHC encourages plumbing and heating businesses to use social media

Source: HVP Magazine

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World’s first sideways elevator unveiled

The world’s first rope-less, horizontal-vertical lift has been installed inside a purpose-built innovation test tower in Germany.

More than 160 years after the invention of the conventional elevator, manufacturer ThyssenKrupp is hailing it as a game changer for major buildings.

Instead of one cabin per shaft moving up and down, the “MULTI” system offers multiple cabins operating in a loop, like a metro system inside a building.

It requires fewer and smaller shafts than conventional elevators and can increase the building’s usable area by up to 25%, representing extra revenues from the additional rentable/leasable space.

Present elevator-escalator footprints can occupy up to 40% of a high rise building’s floor space, depending on the building height.

The first fully functional unit has just been installed in ThyssenKrupp’s purpose-built 246m test tower in Rottweil, Germany.

And now European developer OVG Real Estate plans to become the lift maker’s very first customer installing the MULTI in the new East Side Tower building in Berlin, adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

World's first sideways elevator unveiled

World’s first sideways elevator unveiled

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Charity offers vital support for apprentices with learning difficulties

Almost 15% of young adults in the electrical industry are dealing with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and through its Apprentice Support Programme, the Electrical Industries Charity is providing vital support to ensure these young people succeed in their chosen career.

Dyslexia is a hidden problem that can be missed at schools, and often shows its presence through disruptive behaviour and missed schooling. For example, at the age of 15, Scott left school, due to many years of bullying and missed education. He is now well on the way to completing his apprenticeship, and all of his work is well documented. However, he has yet to pass his final written exam, and it is now that his difficulties have come to light.

After years of ongoing bullying at school for being ‘stupid’ Scott almost quit his apprenticeship thinking that his dyslexia was an intelligence issue. His employer was keen to help him through this final stage of his apprenticeship and, therefore, he approached the Electrical Industries Charity to get more support for Scott.

The Electrical Industries Charity joined ties with JTL to facilitate Scott’s first ever assessment for dyslexia and found a specialist tutor to help him on a one-to-one basis. Scott will now be supported right through his exam, and on to a successful journey as a fully qualified electrician.

In the electrical sector, there are many young apprentices like Scott who are not aware of their learning difficulty, which can stand in the way of pursuing their dream career. By joining together, the Electrical Industries Charity and JTL are helping young apprentices to succeed in their chosen careers and aim to end the stigma of mental health issues while creating awareness and giving them the support they need.

Tessa Ogle, managing director of the Charity, says: “Dyslexia is a hidden problem that is often missed throughout schooling. One in 10 people in the UK are affected by dyslexia. The Electrical Industries Charity is working hard to ensure awareness of dyslexia is better understood in the sector. With almost 15% of the electrical and energy industry suffering with it, it makes sense to create greater awareness and provide support through our Employee Assistance Programmes.”

Charity offers vital support for apprentices with learning difficulties

Charity offers vital support for apprentices with learning difficulties

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Boiler industry plays key role in innovating to reduce emissions

The chief executive of The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), former MP and international development minister, Mike Foster, will be presenting at the Worcester Bosch Environment 2020 awards, focusing on the role that heat decarbonisation can play in enabling the UK to meet carbon emission reduction targets.

The Committee on Climate Change called for new strategies to be put in place in order to meet our carbon reduction targets. The EUA believe that transforming domestic heating, using green gas, provides a real solution. Mike will highlight the role that Worcester Bosch is playing to help the UK meet its international climate change obligations.

Around 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions are generated by domestic heating. Given that the UK has the world’s leading gas grid infrastructure in place, directly supplying heat to 85% of homes, there is real potential for green gas to be the future of heating. Multiple opportunities exist regarding green gas; namely biomethane, methane and hydrogen blended gas, synthetic gas from black bag waste and, in the long-term, 100% hydrogen.

Mike said: “The UK needs to decarbonise and Worcester Bosch play a vital role in paving a way for us to do so. Using greener forms of gas to heat homes will minimise the disruption consumers face, keeping their costs to a minimum, while helping to save the planet.

“Particularly exciting is the new technology that takes black bin waste and converts it to gas, which can then be used in our homes. The other emerging thinking is around the use of hydrogen, either mixed with natural gas or used on its own. New boiler technology needs to be developed for this to work, and I know Worcester Bosch is at the forefront of this innovation.”

Boiler industry plays key role in innovating to reduce emissions

Boiler industry plays key role in innovating to reduce emissions

Source: Heating & Plumbing Monthly Magazine

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3 in 4 electrical workers opposed to agency labour

Over three in four electrotechnical workers (76%) say they prefer working for a direct employer rather than a labour agency, according to new survey findings commissioned by the Joint Industry Board.

Of those who say they preferred direct employment, almost two in three respondents (62%) said it was to ‘enjoy their full employment rights’. A similar number say they preferred ‘steady employment’ (63%) and ‘valued the holidays and additional benefits available’ (59%).

Just one in six respondents (16%) say they favour agency labour work over direct employment. Over four in 10 of those who preferred agency work (43%) said it was due to the flexibility, while nearly three in 10 (29%) said it was because they could earn more.

ECA director of employment Alex Meikle comments: “These findings overwhelmingly show that electrotechnical workers are more content and likely to be more productive working directly for an employer.

“While agency workers can be a necessary source of flexible labour for businesses, the industry should take a hard look at the value of temporary employment. It’s now time for a rebalancing that ensures worker productivity is maximised moving forward.”

Some 422 electrotechnical workers from across the UK responded to the survey, which was held during the first quarter of the year.

The ECA’s recent submission to the government’s industrial strategy consultation noted that ‘higher (employee) engagement is associated with higher performance’, and urged the government to consider using the procurement process to improve employer-worker collaboration.

The 2009 government-commissioned Macleod report found that ‘the correlation between engagement, wellbeing and performance is repeated too often to be a coincidence’. This view indicates the value of employee engagement and support initiatives – such as occupational health assessments and CPD training – to ensuring worker productivity.

Another recent ECA survey on the value of corporate social responsibility found that half of electrotechnical businesses said that having a CSR policy in place meant they were more likely to retain and recruit staff.

3 in 4 electrical workers opposed to agency labour

3 in 4 electrical workers opposed to agency labour

Source: Electrical Contracting News

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England stars take on Worcester’s Boiler Box Challenge

Worcester, Bosch Group is inviting installers to take on the Boiler Box Challenge, after taking ex-England stars Wayne Bridge and Kyran Bracken back to their roots for its Rely On campaign.

With the campaign aiming to celebrate the things and people that we rely on every day, the manufacturer took the two sporting legends from the world of football and rugby back to surprise the players, parents and coaches at their childhood clubs in Southampton and Liverpool.

As well as offering pep talks and coaching sessions, Wayne and Kyran were on hand to deliver hot beverages and snacks to keep parents warm once the matches got underway. After the games, a final surprise was in store – each club being presented with a £1,000 cheque on behalf of the heating and hot water manufacturer.

Then, back on the very pitches where they first learned to play, the ex-pros took on Worcester’s Boiler Box Challenge, which saw the former internationals attempt to chip or throw a football or rugby ball into an empty boiler box.

Now, Worcester is inviting installers to submit their own efforts. From rainbow flicks to scorpion kicks, the manufacturer is asking for the most impressive ways engineers can get a football or rugby ball into an empty boiler box – with a host of signed balls to give away for the most creative clips.

You can watch Wayne and Kyran taking on the challenge on Worcester’s social media channels. Then, post your own attempts using #BoilerBoxChallenge for your chance to win a signed football or rugby ball.

Worcester is also on the lookout for deserving junior clubs to visit. Nominate a team, club, or society who you think deserves a surprise from the Worcester team before July 30, at: www.worcester-bosch.co.uk/rely.

England stars take on Worcester's Boiler Box Challenge

England stars take on Worcester’s Boiler Box Challenge

Source: Heating & Plumbing Monthly Magazine

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This month Hotcost were featured on Electrical Contracting News

This month Hotcost were featured on Electrical Contracting News website discussing the ED&I Expo.

The ED&I Expo is the UK’s new national trade show for the electrical industry and is taking place at the NEC, Birmingham, on 6th-7th September, the show will provide hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of brands, learning opportunities and networking events. Sign up is available here.

Hotcost will be in attendance this year, you can find us at stand 128, and we are also delighted to a Gold Sponsor for this fantastic event.

Have a look at the featured article on the Electrical Contracting News website by clicking here and if you haven’t already signup for this fantastic event below.

 

ED&I Expo Banner-Large

June 2017 Newsletter

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Grenfell Tower fire probe focuses on cladding

Fire investigators will focus on how the Grenfell tower blaze spread so rapidly jumping up the exterior of the building from the fourth floor to top in just 15 minutes.

A key area of investigation will be the common rainscreen system used on the Grenfell Tower, which is designed to include fire-breaks at every floor and around every window.

Experts believe this may have failed with the void between the aluminium panels and building fabric acting as a chimney to spread the fire.

The system has been used on many tower block revamps and the Government has now ordered checks on all buildings in the UK that have been revamped in recent years.

Chris Miers, a forensic architect, said: “I was surprised to see the extent of fire and its rapid spread. The risk is if the void is not adequately subdivided it would act as a chimney.”

The building was overclad with Aluminium Composite Material cassette rainscreen. This consists of two thin aluminium sheets sandwiching a core material. The panels are available with polyethylene or less flammable mineral cores.

Russ Timpson of the tall building fire safety network, said: “In the UK cladding has to be of limited combustibility. I’m sure it will be questioned what exactly this means and what these types of cladding systems are adding to the fire load of a building.”

The cladding system employs a void behind the panel to vent moisture. An intumescent strip is designed to be installed at regular intervals to expand in the event of fire to become a cavity barrier.

Cladding contractor Harley Curtain Wall fell into administration shortly after completing the £2.6m Grenfell Tower project.

Main contractor Rydon, which delivered the £8.6m upgrade to the Grenfell Tower in 2016 as part of a £57m borough-wide regeneration in Kensington & Chelsea, said it had met “all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards”.

“We will cooperate with the relevant authorities and emergency services and fully support their enquiries into the causes of this fire at the appropriate time.

“Given the ongoing nature of the incident and the tragic events overnight, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate or comment further at this stage.”

Both firms also delivered a bigger project, the Chalcot Estate in north London, which involved using similar systems to reclad five blocks as part of an £18m revamp.

The Chalcot estate in Swiss Cottage consists of 706 homes in five tower blocks -Taplow, Bray, Burnham, Dorney, and Blashford – rising to 23 storeys.

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Contractors urged to act on upcoming energy regulations

In less than a year, the government’s new energy bill comes into effect. Ideal Commercial Boilers are urging installers to act now before upcoming changes to the energy efficiency regulations.

From 1 April 2018, landlords of non-domestic rented properties, including public sector landlords, cannot grant a tenancy to new or existing tenants if their property has an EPC rating below E.

A report from global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield estimates that nearly 20% of commercial property buildings in England and Wales could fall short of the government’s upcoming energy standards.

Ideal Commercial Boilers see is the change as an opportunity for installers to encourage customers to be proactive before the legislation comes into effect and recommending products and services that will be required in less than a year.

Darren Finley, Chief Commercial Officer at Ideal Commercial Boilers, said: “While replacing an inefficient boiler with an efficient one is the obvious solution, we would also urge contractors to use it as a chance to reiterate the benefits of routine inspection protecting the whole heating system, encouraging clients to consider preventative maintenance, monitoring gas bills, introducing controls and water treatment.”

There is mounting pressure to meet the new energy standards, particularly where tenancies are due for renewal in the first quarter of 2018. Commercial landlords who are still heating their buildings with older boilers and inefficient systems will end up losing out.

The regulations will change again from 1 April 2023 and landlords must not let a non-domestic property if that property has an EPC rating of band F or G.

Source: HVP Magazine

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Electricians wanted to fill assessor skills gap

A campaign to recruit more NVQ assessors has been launched by training provider JTL, following concerns of a skills shortage in this area and the negative impact it could have on apprenticeship quality.

A very welcomed rise in the number of apprenticeships has in turn led to an increased need for independent assessors – individuals who can visit an apprentice’s place of work to review their on-site work, provide guidance on their NVQ portfolio and support their development.

However, with a shortage across England and Wales of those currently carrying out this role, the quality of each apprenticeship could be at risk because apprentices are not given the amount of pastoral and technical support they need to progress.

JTL prize the quality of their assessment highly and are keen to ensure that increasing learner numbers do not have a negative impact. Because of the specialised nature of the role, electricians who have already worked ‘on the tools’ in the industry for a number of years are ideally suited to an assessment role, as they are fully versed with current working practices and the industry techniques that an apprentice needs to learn. Those who are able to spend one or two days a week visiting apprentices at work to help progress their NVQ development are being encouraged to apply.

“Becoming an assessor gives you the chance to give something back and, if you’re retired or wanting to take a back seat in your business, allows you to keep in touch with the industry,” said Julie Asher-Smith, human resources director of JTL.

“It’s your opportunity to interact with the industry’s future workforce and allows you to share the experience and skills you’ve gained over the years.

“The skills gap relating to apprentices and electricians has been well documented, but having the right people to assess their training is an important part of the jigsaw. With this campaign we’re taking vital steps to ensure there are sufficient numbers of assessors to develop the next generation of craft professionals.”

Those interested in becoming an assessor are encouraged to contact JTL to find out more. Individuals need to be technically qualified with an apprenticeship or NVQ Level 3 as a minimum, but full support and training related to the role, along with attractive day rates, are provided.

To find out more visit www.jtlassociatesjobs.com

Source: Electrical Times

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Homeowners leave themselves at risk by not checking tradesmen’s credentials

According to the latest research by home service marketplace Plentific.com, nearly four out of five homeowners admit that they would hire a trade professional without checking for public liability or professional indemnity insurance.

Hiring a trade professional who does not have the appropriate insurance cover can leave a homeowner financially vulnerable if things go wrong, or if they are dissatisfied with the work carried out.

All home improvement or renovation projects come with some risk. Without public liability insurance, any costs arising from on site injuries or damaged property will fall to the customer to pay. Similarly, if the work carried out, advice given, or specialist services offered by a pro are unsatisfactory, without professional indemnity insurance, the financial costs to amend the project will again fall to the homeowner to organise.

Shockingly, according to the research, only 54% of homeowners check the Gas Safe Register when hiring tradesmen to work on their gas utilities. This percentage drops to 48% for under 55-year-olds, but rises to 60% for homeowners aged 55 and over. Ensuring that a property’s gas utilities are safely maintained is essential to prevent serious hazards or accidents. Checking the Gas Safe Register lets homeowners know whether a trade professional is qualified to legally and safely carry out work on gas appliances.

The research shows that 57% of homeowners believe checking reviews from previous customers is a must before hiring a trade professional. Checking a trade professional’s website also ranked highly, with 43% of respondents claiming that this was a key step when hiring a professional. This trend was stronger for younger homeowners, with 63% of 18 to 34-year-olds following this rule, compared to just 39% of respondents aged 55 or over.

Knowing what to look for when hiring a professional may be daunting for some, so Plentific does all the hard work for the customer when it comes to checking credentials. The ‘Verified Pros’ available through Plentific have been thoroughly vetted to ensure that they have all the appropriate cover for their trades. With the added backing of the Plentific Guarantee, an industry first insurance policy that comes as standard with Verified Pros, homeowners can also benefit from an extra layer of protection if the job doesn’t go to plan.

Stephen Jury, of Plentific, said: “It’s shocking to think that the majority of homeowners aren’t properly checking the tradesmen they let into their homes to carry out renovation or repair work. These projects can be costly, so if something goes wrong, it’s essential to be protected.

“The fact that more homeowners check previous customer reviews over credentials such as the Gas Safe Register, could be surprising to some. However, it shows how much influence people put on real life testimonials and recent customer experiences.”

Source: Heating & Plumbing Monthly Magazine

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Turning teens to engineering

According to a survey by Jobsite, the current engineering talent shortfall is driven, not by lack of interest, but by the fact that young people simply do not know how to get started in the field. Indeed, six out of 10 (63%) 16-18 year olds don’t know what qualifications are necessary to become an engineer, while three quarters (74%) didn’t know of any engineering work experience opportunities.

So with more than 50 per cent of respondents expressing a desire to join the industry, the onus is on businesses and schools to bring engineering apprenticeships to the fore.

One company that is already working towards this goal is engineering solutions firm, adi Group, which currently has 19 employees enrolled on its post-16 apprenticeship scheme, and a dozen 14-16 year olds undertaking an adi pre-apprenticeship in partnership with a local school – the first programme of its kind in the UK.

The scheme involves 12 secondary school students – male and female – attending adi Group’s workshop for half a day each week. This occupies 10% of the students’ overall curriculum time as they continue to work on their GCSEs alongside the course. Unfortunately, despite this being the right course of action, these types of partnerships are a rarity.

According to an IAC survey of apprentices, half of all those surveyed found out about their apprenticeship through their own initiative, with a mere 15% finding out from a teacher or careers adviser. In fact, some students are being actively discouraged by their schools to take on apprenticeships, demonstrating the need for employers to work with educational providers to emphasise the value of work-based learning.

Alan Lusty, CEO of adi Group, comments: “We are now seeing a generation of young people seriously considering engineering as a career choice, however, more needs to be done to match students up with high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

“adi Group’s long term aim is to support the engineering and manufacturing industries by providing a constant stream of young talented people who are well prepared for specialist roles. Our pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programmes are clear demonstrations of that intent.

“However, we can’t do it alone. We need more businesses to adopt similar initiatives and increase the number of work experience placements available. As rising numbers of young people are interested in a future in engineering, this is a demand we must meet. As such, the pre-apprenticeship model is completely available, free of charge, for any employer or school that wishes to replicate an existing scheme which has proven to work, and work well.”

For more information, visit www.adiltd.co.uk

Source: Electrical Times

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Heating firms called up for £600m Scottish housing deal

Specialist heating contractors from across Scotland are being invited to submit bids to take part in a new social housing framework.

The new panel of firms is being set up to help registered social landlords meet their obligations under the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing.

It is being launched by PfH Scotland, the procurement specialist set up by the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

To meet the EESSH standard, all social housing in Scotland must achieve an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of Band D or better by 2020.

PfH Scotland’s newly-launched framework is expected to generate contract work worth up to £600m over four years across Scotland’s social housing sector.

Following a process of vetting, shortlisting and selecting contractors, the framework is expected to go live in September of this year.

PfH Scotland Head of Operations Stephen Herriot said: “I would encourage heating contractors of all sizes, including those who may have no previous experience of tendering for public sector contracts, to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this £600m procurement framework and to secure new work while helping drive ongoing improvements in the energy efficiency of Scottish social housing.”

The framework will be split into six defined geographic regions across Scotland.

PfH Scotland is offering a range of bid support and advice for SMEs with limited or no experience of tendering for public sector work.

To further support participation be smaller local contractors, evaluation of tenders will also be 70% weighted in favour of quality and 30% on price.

In each geographic region, the framework has been broken down into 13 individual lots covering services ranging from energy performance certification to domestic and commercial gas servicing and from the installation of renewables to architectural services.

Those tendering can submit responses for any or all of these individual lots and will then be required to identify the geographic areas within each lot that they can service.

Contractors have until the 17 July to register an interest in the framework and to submit their bid.

Further information about the PfH Scotland EESSH heating services framework is available on the Public Contracts Scotland website.

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Training will transform building controls industry

The Building Controls Association (BCIA) believes the key to a sustainable future in the building controls industry is to invest in young people and find skilled role models for the next generation.

The current skills shortage faced by the industry has been well documented. A recent survey conducted by UK Construction Week discovered that 67% of respondents identified a lack of knowledge as a serious issue in preventing buildings being run more efficiently, highlighting that more needs to be done in terms of education and training.

To tackle the building performance challenge head-on, building controls engineers must be fully trained to optimise buildings and correctly ascertain which controls will be of most benefit to deliver cost savings and enhance overall comfort.

Technical qualifications called T-levels will be introduced next year for 16-19 year olds following a sizeable investment from the government.

Construction and engineering are set to be two of the key areas which will benefit from this. George Belfield, is an ideal illustration of what a young person can achieve with the right training and guidance.

George recently won the coveted Young Engineer of the Year accolade at the prestigious BCIA Awards 2017 and works for InTandem Systems. Inspired by his older brother who was an electrician, George embarked on an intense training programme and has since gained valuable experience by working on various international projects.

George’s next step is to progress up the ranks and become a building controls engineer as he continues his development in his chosen field. George’s journey has been transformed thanks to obtaining the necessary skills and expertise through ongoing training.

Developing the industry’s talented engineers and retaining them is pivotal. Like George, the industry needs more role models and inspirational figures to encourage and motivate young people to opt for a career in this sector.

Malcolm Anson, president of the BCIA says:” We can all play a significant role in helping shape the future of the building controls industry. Let’s unearth the next crop of controls engineers and demonstrate our passion for the sector. Finding suitable role models will be vital in capturing the imagination of young people who wish to make a career in building controls. We must inspire and educate the next generation to ensure a sustainable future across the whole industry.”

Source: Electrical Times

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Fancy being a local hero?

Centrica has launched a new on-demand service, Local Heroes, providing a user-friendly digital platform to find trusted local tradespeople to carry out work in the home. The service currently connects people with local plumbing, heating, electrical and drainage experts.

Local Heroes links the customer-tradespeople journey seamlessly, from searching for a job and providing a price estimate, through to confirmation and online payment. All work that is undertaken via Local Heroes is backed by a 12-month British Gas guarantee.

For tradespeople who are successfully vetted and approved to become Local Heroes, the business model opens up a new revenue stream of work opportunities available within their local area.

Mark Hodges, Chief Executive at Centrica Consumer, comments: “Local Heroes is a perfect example of how we see innovation and new technologies flourishing at Centrica. Local Heroes is the first online platform that offers a complete start-to-finish experience, introducing current and next generation Centrica customers to local tradesmen – crucially, all backed by the peace of mind of a British Gas guarantee.”

There are more than 2500 Local Heroes across the UK. By 2020, the company aims to have completed several hundred thousand jobs in the home via its online platform.

To find out more, click here.

Source: PHAM News

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Electrical Trade gets its own focus group

Are you a small business working in the electrical sector who feels that your voice isn’t heard when decisions are being made in the industry that affect you?

If you are, this could be the perfect opportunity for you to get involved in a new venture by Trade Skills 4U to get the voice of the small business heard. Trade Skills 4U is keen to hear from self employed electricians (one-man bands), companies with two to five employees, five to ten employees and trainees and apprentices from these groups.

What is it?

The Small Employer Electrical Focus Group will be made up of approximately 10 people from small businesses and trainees working in the electrical industry.

The group will meet once a quarter to represent the employees and employers of small businesses and self-employed workers in the sector.

The intention is to be able to voice opinions regarding what is needed to make the industry better by training more people with the right skills to ensure they are competent.

The group will be guided by a director from Trade Skills 4U, and its intention is to listen to the opinions of the group and gather information, which can be used to influence future decision making around the electrical industry. This will ensure that future training and qualification changes represent what the industry really needs.

Why is it needed?

It’s hard to believe that even though the electrical industry consists of 90% of small businesses, it’s the 10% of larger businesses that have the most influence when decisions are being made regarding the skills needed for the industry, to ensure that the workers are competent.

This seems to be unbalanced when you consider that the majority of the larger firms don’t actually do the work themselves as they use sub-contractors to carry out an installation.

Trade Skills 4U believes that the small businesses should have a bigger voice when decisions are made, which is why they are interested in forming this Focus Group.

The aim is to be in a position to voice its opinions regarding training needs and reactions to specific industry related issues around qualification content and regulatory changes, with the intention that the views of the group will be considered to help influence the decision making and development needs of the sector.

What are the benefits?

By being part of this Focus Group Trade Skills 4U will give you the inside track regarding what’s happening in the industry and will share with you up-to-date information about forthcoming changes to regulations and qualifications.

Why Trade Skills 4U?

As the UK’s leading electrical training company, Trade Skills 4U has been representing the interests of the thousands of their customers for many years. They have been involved in the development of new qualifications, writing of course books and even provided evidence to Government on behalf of their customers. They already have close ties with accrediting bodies and industry bodies but they believe their voice will be stronger with your help.

If this is something you are interested in please register your interest via the form on this page or email elaine.hammond@tradeskills4u.co.uk.

Source: Electrical Times

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Swansea’s £500m city centre regeneration plan approved

Ambitious outline plans to redevelop the heart of Swansea have been approved by the council.

The £500m Swansea Central scheme will see over 11ha redeveloped with the partially demolished St David’s site rebuilt as a new retail destination with a cinema and library.

The council has selected developer Rivington Land and Acme to manage the regeneration of the former St David’s shopping centre and surrounding car parks.

The redevelopment site is divided by the Oystermouth Road. A new wide pedestrian footbridge will connect the triangular southern section of the site.

This is planned to be home to a 3,500-seat arena built on the existing car park next to the LC leisure centre, along with a 13-storey residential block or hotel.

The scheme will need planning permission once plans are finalised, with work hoped to start on the southern site first by summer 2018.

A later phase will involve demolishing the civic centre and creating a city beach, which would also include an aquarium and digital science centre. Trebor Developments will lead the redevelopment of this seafront area.

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Secure estimating from Hotcost Limited

Understanding the tender documentation is essential for any project and is a must for any estimator. Some aspects of the requirements may be very familiar but others may be new and sometimes pioneering.

It is therefore vital for estimators to be alert and knowledgeable. An estimator needs to expect the unexpected and they need to be knowledgeable enough to know instinctively how to deal with all requirements of the project.

And that is all of our estimators here at Hotcost. Because we work continuously in the field of estimating, we have daily knowledge and experience of all type and size of project across the UK and beyond.

With up-to-the-minute costs and vast experience taken into consideration when providing a detailed estimate for our clients, it’s no wonder our clients can be secure in the knowledge that their project has been estimated exactly how it should be – profitable and competitive.