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ICOM Energy Association holds its inaugural Winter Conference

Focusing on regulations and initiatives relating to energy efficiency in building services, the Winter Conference featured speakers from the CBI, CIBSE, DCLG, DECC and Defra.

Opening the proceedings, ICOM Chairman Adrian Walker noted that there is still a perceived hierarchy within the construction industry supply chain that often positions, manufacturers at the bottom of the food chain. This perception, he observed, belies the vital role that manufacturers have in delivering improved energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

This point was reinforced by Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Technical Director Hywel Davies in his presentation on Building Information Modelling (BIM). He pointed out that the ‘food chain’ is the old way of doing things and that, with the move towards wider use of BIM, supply chain partners will need to work very closely together and share their expertise. As a result, input from manufacturers will be essential in the early stages of BIM projects.

Stephen Mayne, from the Energy and Climate Change team at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) made the point that much can be done to enable businesses to take advantage of the low carbon technologies being developed by manufacturers. In particular, he suggested there are too many environment policies, which are often delivered in a disjointed fashion and with a sparsity of information. He also emphasised the importance of improving energy efficiency to help reduce the demand for increased energy generation.

This view was shared by Paul DeCort from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), who confirmed that energy efficiency, enforced through Part L of the Building Regulations, will remain a key plank of the government’s overall policy toolkit. He also explained that future changes to Part L in 2013 would be balanced against the growth agenda and the requirements of the European Performance of Buildings Directive. However, he was not in a position to confirm what those changes will be – the changes will be published in April and come into force in October.

Changes are also expected in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Iain Mathieson from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed that these would be finalised between January and March 2013 and be in place by May. These will include measures to remove obstacles, such as unnecessary metering requirements, that have had a negative impact on the uptake of the RHI so far.

The final speaker was Mike Rimmer from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who explained the processes behind the Ecodesign of Energy Related Products (aka ErP) Directive. He also emphasised the need for manufacturers and their trade associations to participate in the process, something that has become even more important following changes that enable the European Commission to introduce labelling of products without the need for a vote.

Baxi Commercial Division Managing Director Paul Hardy commented: “The event was a great opportunity to listen and debate with key note speakers, who represent organisations that are involved with initiatives, legislation and incentives being introduced by the UK Government and European Parliament. All of which, when fully implemented, will have a big impact on the building services industry, especially in regards to the manufacturers of space heating boilers, direct fired water heaters and heat emitters.”

Powrmatic Managing Director Phil Brompton added: “To have the views of the three Governments Departments, DCLG, DEFRA and DECC which impact on our business was both informative and interesting, even if some of the messages were conflicting - that’s politics!’

The conference was concluded by Mr Walker, who noted that ICOM’s ongoing dialogue with the government and other stakeholders would continue to be essential in representing the industry’s views and helping it to prepare for the changes that are in the pipeline.

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