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The Green Deal - 5 key points for construction SMEs

24 Oct 11 With the Green Deal fast approaching, construction firms are running out of time to take advantage of the £6.5bn-a-year market that retrofitting and green technology will create.

To help small and medium size construction firms fight for their share of profits from the Green Deal, CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Construction Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council has compiled some tips to help businesses understand the low carbon sector and gain competitive advantage.

CITB-ConstructionSkills chief executive Mark Farrar said: “When it comes into force by October 2012, this flagship carbon reduction policy may create an estimated 100,000 jobs by 2020 – and by this point the Government aims to have retrofitted 14m homes with energy saving equipment.

“Despite a good number of SMEs who are already well skilled to take advantage of the low carbon work, there are thousands more who currently don’t have the skills or knowledge to effectively take on this type of activity. It is important those firms prepare for the future now by following these tips and visiting our Cut the Carbon website to stay on top of the legislation and skills requirements.”

1. Understand client demand - Understanding the changing needs and expectations of clients is particularly important. Many of the larger contractors are committed to cutting carbon and have carbon policies in place. Some SMEs are also already delivering innovative and effective solutions to help them get ahead and maximise on the opportunities that initiatives like the Green Deal are going to offer. Now is the time for the remainder of firms to make sure they know what green skills their client are going to need, to avoid losing out on the business opportunities on offer.

2. Train your staff – To take advantage of the Green Deal, you will have to prove your employees are qualified to retrofit green technology. At the moment there are two existing qualifications installers can take, to enable them to fit energy saving measures to the required standard:

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  • Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Insulation and Building Treatments − loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation, draught-proofing, internal insulation, insulating framed sections
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Insulation and Building Treatments − wood preserving and damp proofing, cavity wall tie replacement
  • To obtain either of these qualifications visit the Construction Awards Alliance, which lists all registered UK assessment centres for NVQ level 2.

3. Prepare your firm - As part of the Green Deal, you will also have to have to show that your firm is able to carry out the retrofitting properly. This means getting approval for your organisation from a UKAS certification body.

What’s more, firms will also have to prove they can operate their installation equipment to a certain standard. For example; if your company uses equipment to fit a particular type of wall insulation – you need to make sure your workers have training from the manufacturer on how to operate it. The training will have to meet the current National Occupational Standard (NOS) which will be the overarching standard that all training for the Green Deal will have to meet. Get in touch with the company that makes the equipment and find out what sort of training they offer.

4. Have your say on green skills and qualifications – All Green Deal installers will have to be fully trained and qualified in order to retrofit energy saving devices. The government department, DECC, has compiled an initial specification of the green skills and qualifications for installers. It is vitally important you familiarise yourself with this specification as it will eventually dictate who will be eligible to get work under the Green Deal. To view the specification called PAS 2030 go to the Cut the Carbon website.

The Government is devising these standards for green deal installers to make sure they are competent in the following areas:

  • Knowledge of the building type and loft construction concerned and the specific cavity wall insulation system proposed
  • Storage and handling of materials
  • Suitability and preparation of the site
  • Understanding of the installation techniques and finishing work

5. Adapting your business – Many federations such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) are working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to understand how the Green Deal will affect firms in practice. It is worth checking with your federation to make sure your business model is adapted to make the most out of the extra work available as a result of the Green Deal.

Got a story? Email news@theconstructionindex.co.uk

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