Home Features VIEWPOINT: Skill up to phase out the performance gap

Training is vital for combating the shortfall between designed and as-built energy performance, says Andrew Orriss, head of business development at SIG Insulation, so why aren’t we seeing greater investment in skills development across the installation sector?

The ‘performance gap’ refers to the worrying trend of newly constructed buildings failing to live up to their designed energy performance. Over the past year or so it has been the subject of an extensive investigation to explore potential causes and solutions by the Zero Carbon Hub.

In its latest report, published in July 2014, the organisation suggested that a lack of installation expertise could be a contributing factor to this shortfall in predicted energy performance. If an insulation system has been fitted incorrectly, for instance, it can seriously undermine the predicted energy performance of a building.

As a result, the Zero Carbon Hub identified “skills and knowledge development” as a “priority action” to combat the problem.

Six months on from that recommendation we’re yet to see any real action in this area. The construction industry as a whole is struggling with a widely reported skills shortage. Meanwhile, according to a recent YouGov poll of 1,600 construction professionals, only 17 per cent said that they had received any sort of training in the past year.

At a time when many parts of the industry, including the fit-out sector, are striving to embed more sustainable building practices and meet ever more stringent green building standards, any shortfall between designed and as-built performance should be treated as a critical issue that, until resolved, will stunt our best efforts to achieve higher levels of energy performance.

At SIG Insulation, we’re doing our own bit to close the performance gap. Our Retrofit System Support team provides expert on-site guidance for installers delivering retrofit projects, helping them to ensure products are installed correctly and the maximum gains in energy efficiency are made.

With greater investment, training and closer partnerships across the supply chain, we hope to see the performance gap squeezed out of the equation.

Andrew Orriss is head of business development at SIG Insulation.

www.siginsulation.co.uk