The recent Energy 2016 debate put the spotlight on key issues facing the construction industry including energy storage, the politics of specification, off-site construction and bridging the skills gap.
The debate, held at the BRE’s headquarters in Watford, brought together leading energy specialists including Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party and EDF Energy’s senior manager of infrastructure services Steve Fitzsimons.
Topics discussed included ways to encourage and educate the younger generation about the construction industry, and how exhibitions such as UK Construction Week can inspire students to take a greater interest in construction.
The items discussed at the event will reflect the seminar content at Energy 2016 – part of this year’s UK Construction Week at the Birmingham NEC – which is set to take place between the 18th and 23rd October.
The debate started with a discussion panel led by Steve Fitzsimons looking at energy storage as a crucial facilitator for the future of renewable energy in both domestic and commercial environments. Steve commented that getting a stable balance between decentralised energy and centralised energy will be crucial.
He said: “Our ability to plant sustainable renewables in cities and rural areas will be critical to the future of energy.”
Other topical issues discussed included the development of eco-homes and ensuring that properties meet the basic energy efficiency requirements. It was pointed out that, according to recent thermal imaging results, many British homes are no more thermally efficient than those in the Victorian times.
The Zero Carbon Homes initiative was also brought into question, with many agreeing that “it was a good thing that the government scrapped it because we probably wouldn’t meet it,” according to Andrew Mellor of PRP Architects.
The Energy 2016 panel then moved onto how moving labour off-site can help up-skill the industry and improve the quality of products.
Policy and Practice Lead of the IEMA, Nick Blyth concluded: “Despite being used to working within the red tape we are a resourceful industry. However, as we’ve deliberated, talking to a consumer audience is as vital as a trade audience and it is events like UKCW than can help change the public perception of renewable technology and champion construction, as well as brining the whole industry together in October.”
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