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Eco Connect Forum Calls For Overhaul Of SAP

Eco Connect Forum  Calls For Overhaul Of SAP

Moderated by Barrister Jeremy Barnett, the panel of experts, consisting of Jae Mather, Chris Wilcox and Roger Skehan, together with Eco Connect founder Robert Hokin, held a full and frank, wide ranging discussion about the state of the market for innovation and sustainability in the construction and property sector. The event on 9th October 2012 was hosted by Dickinson Dees LLP.


The panellists began by giving their individual perspectives on the current situation. Jae Mather of H.W. Fisher began with a damming indictment of the ‘Eco Enterprise’ market in the UK, indicating that a considerable amount of early innovators had left the UK due to the failure of the investment market. He compared the position in the Netherlands where early stage investment is supported by packages of salary + equity and other support in schemes such as that at the University of Delft.

Chris Wilcox struck a slightly more promising note with his outline of the Ecopod project, a joint venture between Carillion and the Belfrey Group which showcases a unified management system for refitting residential accommodation. He reviewed the take up of government schemes, pointing to success in Feed in Tariff installations but lack of take up in other areas. He pinpointed the Birmingham Green Deal initiative where a scheme with a potential reach of £1.6 billion has been launched as being an example of where leadership from the City Council can bring about success.

Roger Skehan of Skehan Project Services painted a picture of both public and private procurement that was bleak for SMEs, pointing to various barriers including contractual terms, payment schedules and a desire to avoid extensive supply chains. He pointed to ‘short termism’ preventing take up, as improvments to fabric tend to show long term advantage.

The discussion then moved to consider Building Information Modelling [BIM]. Pannelists felt that the starting point was that global companies had little interest in improving people's building, hence a sense of indifference in the market. The panel quickly focussed on the shortcomings in SAP [Standard Assessment Procedure] 1. which was described as 'the worst assessment model in the world' and was described as a 'broken model'. Criticism of the Building Research Council [BRE] was wide ranging and uniform, a consensus emerging in the room that SAP needs to be brought up to date if investment is to be encouraged in this market. SAP quantifies a dwelling's performance in terms of energy use per unit floor area, a fuel cost pased on energy efficiency rater [the SAP rating] and emissions of CO2. Pannelists pointed to this as the fundamental weakness as no consideration is given to the use of the building in assessing the energy use.

The Construction Industry then fell under the spotlight. The complete lack of policitical support for the low carbon technology was a theme that ran through the discussion, the final conclusion being that the major construction companies were, in the main paying lipservice to sustainability when concentrating on traditional approaches to profitability in a highly competitive marketplace.

A number of people aired their frustration with failures by government to learn the lessons of other countries in this sector, calling for real support for Feed in Tarrif and the Green Deal. Others felt that the regulation was emasculating innovation and that constant changes in political direction had destroyed many initiatives, for example the failed 'Interbuild' event that has been replaced by EcoBuild.

The discussion was still going strong by the conclusion at 7 pm, with a strong consensu emerging that there is a need in the construction sector for a joint government/industry steering group to be formed who can formulate consistent policy, and lobby decision makers where appropriate.

[1] The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is DECC's methodology for assessing and comparing the energy and environmental performance of dwellings. Its purpose is to provide accurate and reliable assessments of dwelling energy performances that are needed to underpin energy and environmental policy initiatives.SAP works by assessing how much energy a dwelling will consume and how much carbon dioxide (CO2 ) will be emitted in delivering a defined level of comfort and service provision, based on standardised occupancy conditions. This enables a like for like comparison of dwelling performance.  


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