Welsh simplify public sector procurement

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  1. In May this year I did a pesentation to Oxfordshre construction professionals on my experiences from the end user and the housing association on the installation of low carbon/renewable technology as part of compliance for sustainable homes tick box funding requirement.
    My role then was to act as the client within the development team and by then we had completed over 300 solar thermal installations with various ASHP, MVHR, PV and air exhaust heat pumps.
    These were delivered mainly through S106 sites and to say we were educating the developers and sub contractors as well as feeling our way is a mild understatement.
    This is going back to 2008 through to 2012 and what I discovered was that Code for Sustainable Homes has nothing to do with affordable warmth, with considerable energy wasted and residents struggling to control their bills and comfort through poor installation, non user-friendly controls, questionable commissioning knowledge and components which were not suited for our homes, compounded with designs which were not intergrated into standard house types.
    The retrofit exercise was expensive and experimental but also had a lot more design and control over the whole process – you can imagine what our experinces were like when we do not have the same degree of control over the end product, compounded by the lack of long term interest from the developer.
    I and my colleagues spent more and more of our time working with the residents making sure that they had some form of understanding of what was to be expected of them. Difficult when for many this was their first home, many were on low fixed incomes and may have learning issues.
    When you get to putting locks on airing cupboard doors you know that the technology is starting to get in the way and alarm bells start ringing for possible unknown future costs to the landlord.
    I have been renovating and designing homes for over 40 years and in my eyes nothing has changed, insulate and ventilate, design the building properly and by that I mean use solar heat gain and aspect homes then you can install easy to control systems which use energy only when the occupants require it.
    We cannot continue approaching the build process this way and we seriously do need to learn from the past.
    The renewable technology has primarly come from Europe and many homes there are built to a different space standard and have higher thermal performance requirements – what we did was bolt it on and wonder why it wasn’t working.
    Things are improving but we still need to look over our shoulder and use that knowledge and experience before it is all lost in the corporate cuts.
    My thanks to Oxfordhire Constructing Excellence Club and Blake Lapthorne for allowing me to vent my frustrations and impart my experiences.

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