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Trade body urges vigilance with Green Homes Grant home insulation projects

A national trade association is calling on property professionals involved in the Government’s new Green Homes Grant Scheme to be aware of the issues with damp and mould emerging from installation projects.

According to the Property Care Association, too many homes over the years have been blighted by poorly installed insulation.

And the trade body says lessons from the past need to be applied to ensure homes are not left with long-terms problems in this latest round of investment from the Government.

Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, said: “We are supporters of this new scheme and welcome it to help improve the housing stock across the country.

“Properly installed insulation is invaluable to keep homes warm and comfortable and tackle excessive energy usage.

“However, over the years have seen first-hand what damage can occur from poorly designed, badly executed, rushed and ill-maintained retrofit insulation.

“In the past, well intentioned Government intervention has helped create a false market with grant systems that reward volume rather than quality.

“We need to learn from mistakes in the past.

“Those across the building sector can help by being aware of the potential implications and advising home-owners to take the necessary steps to prevent damage to their homes.

“Internal and external wall insulation changes how a building deals with water.

“No insulation should ever be applied that covers over cracks or conceals a damp building, and it is also vital that ventilation is considered at the same time too in installation projects.”

The PCA wants to raise awareness of the basic principle of ‘fabric first’ and of improving, not diminishing, the air quality in homes as essential considerations in any insulation project.

Taken from PAS2035 – a key document detailing how to conduct energy efficient retrofits of buildings – the fabric first principle is that insulation must never be applied within or over defects in the underlying building fabric.

Mr Hodgson added: “Detailed pre-installation checks on properties, carried out before any insulation is applied, are the way forward to address future problems.

“Factors such as moisture related issues, blocked cavities, defective guttering, corroded metal wall ties and high ground levels should never be overlooked.

“Ignoring, overlooking or covering over existing defects will inevitably result in major issues that will be extremely difficult and very expensive to fix once the insulation is in place”.

PCA members can advise on the key issues surrounding pre-installation checks. More details at www.property-care.org

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Environmental Impact Assessment Changes as the UK Leaves the European Union

It’s been four years since UK citizens voted on the referendum to withdraw from the European Union, but it’s finally becoming a reality. The UK Parliament formally ratified the withdrawal agreement on Jan. 31, and after a transition period that ends on Dec. 31, the UK will officially leave the EU behind. As the process moves forward, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making some changes of his own, especially concerning the environment.

What changes will take effect as the UK takes those final steps to leave the EU? And, what impact will these shifts have on the environment?

Build, Build, Build!

2020 has been a challenging year thus far, thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic that’s left many world leaders struggling to make the right decisions for their citizens. The UK economy shrunk by more than 20% in April, as lockdowns took effect to combat the spread of the virus. To counter this, the prime minister announced a plan to reinvigorate the country’s economy, and we can sum it up in three words — build, build, build.

On paper, this looks like a good thing. Johnson is fast-tracking more than £5 billion in planned infrastructure projects, creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Environmental groups are worried that the prime minister is taking all the necessary precautions to bolster the economy while protecting the iconic English countryside. The government promised a “green Brexit,” but these plans seem to be supporting anything but.

Impacts on the English Countryside

All these new projects will undoubtedly help move the economy forward, but at what cost? The prime minister blames environmental red tape for holding up development. “Newt-counting delays are a massive drag on the prosperity of this country,” said Johnson, though he campaigned on a green manifesto back in 2010. Trying to cut through all the red tape will weaken the environmental protection that keeps the country’s air, earth and water pristine.

It also appears to be the exact opposite of what the public wants. Currently, 93% of polled Conservative voters either want to keep the environmental regulations the way they are or make them even stricter. The goal here needs to include finding a balance between boosting the economy and protecting the English countryside, not sacrificing one for the other.

New technologies are emerging daily to lessen our collective impact on the environment, from solar irradiation to treat drinking water to more efficient recycling techniques to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in landfills and oceans. Perhaps, instead of investing solely in infrastructure and building projects, the best way to boost the English economy in the wake of a pandemic is to also invest in technologies that can protect the environment while making life easier and safer for the people who live here.

Looking Forward

Brexit is looming, but in the meantime, environmental protection groups are just short of begging the UK government to stick to its promise of a green exit from the EU. These circumstances give the UK a unique opportunity to take tighter control of its environmental policies and have a real say in how it protects the land, water and air.

While everyone is struggling to cope with the new normal of the coronavirus pandemic, we can only hope that the prime minister chooses to listen to the people and doesn’t squander this chance of a lifetime. The world is a big place, but there is only one United Kingdom, and it’s up to citizens to stand up and protect it, even if it seems like those in charge want to do the opposite.

About the Author: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and

sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.

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