Mike Butterick, Marketing Director at Saint-Gobain Glass, urges fabricators and installers to take a collaborative approach and team up with other home improvement contractors to maximise the Green Homes Grant opportunities
There has been a wave of disappointment, tempered with perhaps a lack of surprise, from across our industry, that the Government’s Green Homes initiative on the face of it delivers very few direct benefits for windows and glass.
However, dig deeper and the Green Homes Grant presents some real opportunities for our industry – now and in the future.
Despite the fact that windows might not currently attract the level of direct funding that we hoped for unless you are ‘lucky’ enough to still have single-glazed windows, we should celebrate the fact the Government is actively supporting the improvement of the energy efficiency of our nation’s existing housing stock.
This in itself provides opportunities for our industry. As other measures such as insulation are installed in homes, often replacement windows and entrance doors, typically become part of the overall improvement project. For example, when fitting external wall insulation, it makes sense to replace the windows and doors at the same time, whether they are single or double glazed.
Double-glazed windows fitted before 2002 (which is when the revised Part L regulations came into force) are typically G-rated at best, so there is benefit in replacing them with our latest high-performance products. Homeowners save energy, useful carbon savings are made, and the comfort of homes is enhanced significantly through the other benefits that our products deliver such as solar control, acoustic performance, and improved safety and security. Our estimation is that there are over 100 million windows in the UK housing stock that were fitted before 2002, so the opportunity is significant.
And let’s not forget that there are over 20 million entrance doors in use that we installed before 2002. Replacements to these doors are eligible for funding through the Green Homes scheme so this is already a clear and direct opportunity.
Social housing, local authority and private landlords, are very likely to upgrade homes with a range of measures at the same time in order to minimise disruption to tenants and maximise value for money beyond just individual measures.
A collaborative approach
We know that many fabricators and installers that use our glass products in their windows and doors have existing relationships with contractors that deliver external wall insulation solutions.
Over the coming weeks those contractors will be gearing up to take advantage of the Green Homes funding –so now is the time to ensure those connections and networks are strong on a regional level. The Green Homes vouchers are available from September 2020 and must be redeemed by 31st March 2021 (N.B. In November 2020 the scheme was extended to 31st March 2022).
For our industry there are additional benefits of close cooperation with these contractors as it is they who have to secure and maintain accreditation with the Green Homes delivery standards – PAS 2030 and PAS 2035. When replacement windows are being incorporated as part of a broader building project and not attracting direct funding (in other words they are not single-glazed windows being removed), the window installer does not need the PAS 2030 and PAS 2035 accreditations. This makes life a lot simpler.
So the immediate sales opportunity for installers is to make sure you have strong partnerships with the local contractors who are engaging with Green Homes projects.
The Saint-Gobain Group includes several businesses, such as British Gypsum, Weber and Isover, that work together to deliver integrated solutions to deliver high-performance building envelopes – Saint-Gobain Glass is part of that story.
We know how high-performance glass, in conjunction with high-performance window and door systems, contribute to the overall performance of buildings. We know how the interfaces between frames and wall structures have a massive impact on effectiveness of insulation values, we understand that frames have to be installed in the right way in order to maximise the benefits that high-performance engineered windows are to be capable of.
As the insulation performance of building envelopes increase, as it will with Green Homes projects, the importance of the window and door installation method becomes more important in order to avoid issues such as cold-bridging, which can lead to mould growth.
Also consider that one of the primary aims of Green Homes is to create employment opportunities, especially within the regions of the country. Our industry is well placed of course to deliver that, and we need to continue to make that point to those holding the reins of the scheme.
These are some of the issues that our industry needs to embrace to prepare for future versions of the Green Homes initiative.
Saint-Gobain Glass will continue to make the case for our industry and why our products need to be at the heart of Government strategy, but in the meantime let’s not all forget that we have been presented with an opportunity that is already worth playing for.
Read more about Saint-Gobain and the Green Homes Grant here.