Carbon reduction regulations failing to bite, says Manly

Widespread non-compliance with legislation designed to address the twin challenges of sustainability and carbon reduction is already jeopardising the nation’s ability to meet its long-term environmental targets, according to HVCA president Graham Manly.

“Non-compliance is becoming a culture – owing to lack of enforcement, the paltry penalties being imposed, and the absence of perceived benefit,” Manly told his audience at the Association’s Annual Luncheon at the Tower of London.

This problem is being compounded by the proliferation of certification schemes and bodies that is requiring many companies to undergo multiple accreditation “at considerable cost in both time and money”.

Manly added that the “final negative” was that, as a direct result of competition between certification bodies, the maintenance of common criteria was being compromised.

“The certification of people not fully competent, and the pressure to accept the lowest charges for energy assessments, are producing valueless Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), especially for home-owners, and will also lead to superficial air conditioning inspections.”

Manly said that while enforcement was only part of the solution, without it there is no chance at all of making the regulations stick.

“Whatever reservation we may have had about Corgi – especially in its latter years – the fact remains that it was the rigour and vigilance of its inspection arrangements, along with the sanctions that could be imposed in the event of non-compliance, that ensured the effectiveness of the regime,” said Manly.

He asked whether the same could be said about Part L of the Building Regulations? Or Energy Performance Certificates? Or mandatory air conditioning inspections?

“The anecdotal evidence provided by our members – along with the frankly half-hearted responses from ministers and officials – suggest the answer in most cases is a resounding no,” Manly insisted.

He argued that poor work carried out by an incompetent “cowboy” can do more damage to the carbon reduction agenda – and to the building services engineering industry – than if the work had not been undertaken in the first place.

“If we are really determined to secure our future, we must invest wisely – thus ensuring that personal, corporate and public expenditure achieved its objectives,” said Manly.

“This outcome will require practical and effective regulation, appropriate and achievable standards, a fully competent workforce – and a robust certification scheme that gives customers confidence as well as value,” the president concluded.