Bonfield Review: An Insulation Roadmap?

The Bonfield Review was published on 16 December. It was a long awaited ‘State of the Nation’ review of home energy efficiency and insulation. Unsurprisingly it endorsed what many players in the industry have been saying for many years.

The Review’s main focus was:

  • Consumer advice and protection

What supports consumers’ decisions ahead of the installation, and what assistance is available when things go wrong?

  • Standards framework

What ensures that the right products are fitted to the right properties in the right way during the installation?

  • Monitoring and enforcement

What ensures that poor quality work is dealt with effectively, and do arrangements for audit, compliance checking and sanctions provide sufficient assurance of this?

Building Specific Solutions

Since we started our mantra has been an emphasis on building specific solutions. One size does not fit all. Each building has its own character, style and like people, each building is affected by external factors in a different way. Many of the buildings throughout the UK and Ireland date back many years, constructed of a wide range of materials and covering different types of building methods.

Bonfield flagged that this legacy housing stock needs to improve considerably if it is to continue to be fit for inhabitation in the years ahead. And it is a considerable volume of housing. As it stands it cannot meet government carbon emission and fuel poverty targets. These properties have also suffered as a result of poor quality work leading to poor thermal performance, particularly in the key areas of insulation and building fabric upgrade and maintenance.

When we say that we provide building specific solutions, that is what we mean. We know that different homes require different upgrade solutions. And that is why we work with all stakeholders in the process including architects, contractors, builders and owners to build specific solutions.

Upgrading Homes

In pointing to the inconsistent and inadequate work to date in upgrading homes, Bonfield said: “individual and any modifications need to take account of location, exposure, history, usage and state of repair, as well as architectural context. Too often there is very poor analysis and consideration of these individual factors prior to modifications being undertaken.

“This can be driven by scheme mechanisms to install fabric and energy efficiency measures at the lowest possible upfront cost. On occasion, inappropriate insulation has been installed in unsuitable buildings, with poor detailing or without adequate ventilation, etc. This can result in damage to the building fabric, consequent unexpected costs and health issues for the occupants.

For us, our priority is our clients’ home comfort and energy efficiency. Even in the most complicated retrofit projects on older buildings from experience we know we can provide the ideal insulation solution. It will protect the fabric of your home and help your property valuation.

Insulation Priorities

Bonfield added: “The whole of the building fabric needs to be understood and work undertaken in a proportionate and appropriate way. Addressing one element while ignoring others, or the interfaces, can generate problems. He has identified five aspects for consideration in taking retrofit forward to a satisfactory conclusion:

  • Liaising with consumers
  • Information gathering on the property and its vicinity
  • Design of the appropriate solution
  • How to make most efficient use of the home with the measures installed
  • Installation – quality and expertise.

In his introduction, Dr Bonfield writes: “ I recommend a new approach, underpinned by strong standards and enforcement. This will bring clarity and confidence to consumers, whilst providing a simplified and certain route to market for those companies, large and small, wishing to operate and do business in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector in the United Kingdom.”

Starting Point

We believe that the weakness in the report is the starting point where all recommendations should be provided.

The ultimate aim for any proposal should be to insulate the whole property with the emphasis on “Thermal Bridge Free” upgrades and each homeowner explained where they occur, and what are the consequences of not addressing them.

Once these details are established, which are common on all properties, then training for all parties involved should take place and the communication process begins.

These critical junctions have always been present and all systems designers Should be aware of them but ultimately in the past they have been ignored due to a number of reasons.

Our issue is that the “Panel of Experts“ who have compiled this report were integral and part of the poor quality installations that have already taken place. Unfortunately this does not fill you with confidence that there will be drastic changes made.