Mark Foster, chief executive of Gledhill Building Products looks at the eco-agenda
Today the eco agenda is at the forefront of all businesses’ concerns – and rightly so. The Green Deal is on all of our minds and if planned correctly it should make a significant difference to the UK’s emissions levels, as well as providing interesting market entry opportunities for builders’ merchants.
I am certainly very eager to find out what details the Government will set out at today’s budget (March 23).
Protecting our environment and preparing for a more sustainable future is something which has been brushed aside for long enough. It is something none of us can afford to ignore, and I am proud to say that at Gledhill we have been leading the way in ‘green’ innovation for many years. In fact, we were the first UK-based company to insulate cylinders, although this was originally done purely to physically protect the cylinder rather than as a green initiative!! How times have changed -to the extent that we have recently spent well over £0.6m equipping our manufacturing locations across the country to be able to inject insulation to create our revolutionary EnviroFoam cylinders.
It is now more important than ever for manufacturers to innovate in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Building regulations and new legislation are becoming more and more focused on environmental issues, and face-value ‘green-washing’ just doesn’t cut it any more. Products need to have genuine green credentials to win market share and the most pioneering, eco-friendly products are able to command a premium price supplement.
Forward-thinking in eco-friendly product design enables merchants to offer customers the products they need to impress clients and deliver environmentally friendly and sustainable heating solutions across a variety of projects. Offering the most desirable, efficient and multifunctional product will give merchants a winning edge above competitors and can be used as a real selling point. If these can be sourced from a nearby manufacturing location to minimise the transport carbon ‘footprint’ of a product then that is a big improvement over the conventional approach.
Recently Gledhill’s EnviroFoam Stainless Steel Vented Cylinders were used to help an Essex social housing complex undergo a green makeover. City Plumbing Supplies in Basildon supplied installers Econogas Ltd with the cylinders to fit in 55 one-bedroom flats at a council extra care scheme. Thurrock Borough Council wanted the Piggs Corner Complex in Grays to become more environmentally friendly, so the EnviroFoam cylinders were chosen to complement other features such as photovoltaic paneling to generate electricity and new condensing boilers.
Contracts manager at Econogas, Stephen Bangs, told us he chose the cylinders for their high recovery and ultra-fast re-heating times and the fact that they are fully recyclable at the end of their lives. This is what we will continue to strive for; innovative products that make a practical difference in real-life situations. The retrofit market is increasingly important as we aim to meet carbon reduction targets, so having the right environmentally-friendly product information available to assist customers with their specific needs will become more central to merchants’ work.
A useful reminder to all merchants is that from the beginning of April 2011 they should only be selling cylinder products that comply with Part L 2010. This became effective in October 2010 for cylinder manufacturers, but a six-month period was allowed for merchants to sell their existing stock. The simplest way to conform is to make sure that you are only selling cylinders with the Hot Water Association (HWA) logo which will clearly show whether the product is designed for new-build and replacement or the replacement market only.