How To Keep A Renovation Promise
By Siân Hughes, Director of External Affairs, Knauf Insulation
What do I like to talk about when I talk about renovation?
Well, right now, I like to talk about the way it changes lives.
So, I like to talk about how a warm comfortable home makes all the difference in the middle of a freezing winter. At Knauf Insulation we’ve carried out dozens of large-scale renovation projects across hundreds of homes and what we hear time and again is how lives are improved. No damp, no draughty rooms, no uncontrollable energy bills, no freezing misery.
I’m also fond of talking about how renovation creates jobs and how we can help train new insulation installers — including the long-term unemployed — and provide them with skills for the future, the opportunity to make money and the chance to contribute to the economy.
And, of course, I really like to talk a lot about renovation’s contribution to future generations, how buildings are responsible for 36% of Europe’s CO2 emissions and how making these buildings energy efficient will seriously contribute to tackling climate change.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Policy makers are now taking renovation seriously. Multi-million-euro national and international budgets are being allocated to energy efficient renovation as part of the post-COVID green recovery.
After spending most of my professional life, campaigning for renovation, I should be delighted. Over the moon. Instead, I’m concerned. I’m concerned because I don’t want this incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be squandered.
It all comes down to one word, ‘quality’. When we renovate, we need to do it properly.
First, we need to focus on the buildings that need renovation most — such as social houses, hospitals, schools and care homes.
Second, we need to make the application for renovation funding as straightforward as possible. No initiative can get off the ground if it’s choked by excessive administration or bureaucracy.
Finally, renovation has to be carried out to the highest possible standards and that work has to be thoroughly assessed with the results audited using real life data, not theoretical assessments.
Quality should define renovation
Quality and quality control have to be at the heart of every renovation strategy, otherwise we will end up spending millions transforming hundreds of thousands of buildings, and then discover that the work does not deliver the energy and emissions savings promised — let alone warm comfortable homes.
Quality should also focus the mind of renovation companies, because quality is the bedrock of any long-term sustainable business model and future job creation. Every single national renovation strategy should reward quantifiable quality and customer satisfaction not quota-meeting and quick gains.
And there is so much at stake. A green recovery inspired by renovation is an epoch-defining way to improve the lives of millions, curb emissions and improve the economy. If it is done properly.
What do I like to talk about when I talk about the green recovery?
I like to talk about legacy. Those initiatives that simply subsidise renovation without auditing quality are doomed to failure. Those that put quality at the heart of renovation will create a legacy to be proud of.
Knauf Insulation is a Partner of WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network