Making retrofit a reality

Date: 20 September 2011
The move towards sustainability has changed the industry forever.   The challenge now is not just to build affordable, quality homes on a scale that will meet the needs of our growing population and also the environment but to refurbish an estimated 14- million homes in the UK.

In short, demand on the construction industry will soon reach levels not seen since the post-war building programme of the 1940s and as an industry we’re facing an unprecedented challenge.  So how do we deal with it?

It would be understandably tempting to focus almost entirely on the development of new products, systems and technologies.  Indeed, these systems will prove essential if we are to meet our environmental obligations and Saint-Gobain alone invests more than £350-million per annum into R&D to create market-leading fabric-first systems, innovative new technologies and advanced building products. 

But that won’t be enough – for retrofit to become a reality we need to take a holistic approach.

Many of the products and systems we need to make sustainable refurbishment a reality already exist.  Yet many construction industry professionals are failing to embrace the wealth of refurbishment opportunities because they simply don’t understand the sustainable building agenda and lack practical ‘know-how’ when it comes to specifying and installing sustainable solutions.

Clearly, up-skilling the construction sector workforce at all levels of the supply chain is essential.  As the owner of both manufacturing and distribution businesses, Saint-Gobain has a unique perspective on what needs to be done and we firmly believe that without a sizeable increase in training, the UK’s refurbishment targets will be almost impossible to meet.

That’s why we recently launched our first UK-based Technical Academies. Based in East Leake in Leicestershire and in Bristol, the Saint-Gobain Technical Academies are the first of a nationwide network that Saint-Gobain will be rolling out in the UK. 

They equip industry professionals with key knowledge about the sustainable building agenda as well as vital practical skills, the prospectus at each academy is being developed continually to keep pace with changing regulatory and building design requirements, and bespoke courses will be run to meet specific industry needs such as Green Deal accreditation.  

And their creation reflects our belief that only by adopting a holistic approach to the delivery of sustainability, will we minimise the environmental impact of Britain’s housing stock, meet our sustainable refurbishment targets and provide economic as well as environmental benefits to current and future building occupiers.

600450 Making retrofit a reality

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