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Earth Day: Research shows what’s driving sustainable building practices

With Earth Day on 22 April, we’re exploring the impact that our homes and other buildings have on the environment. In our recent Jewson Trade Trends report, it was positive to see that half of tradespeople are concerned about the environment and sustainability.

Consumers are partly driving this trend, as over a third of tradespeople (35%) said they’d recently been asked by a homeowner about energy efficient options. On top of that, 31% said in the last three months, they had changed their material purchases in line with new building regulations, and 29% had purposefully bought materials that are more sustainable.

While homeowners are looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, some tradespeople and builders find they have to spend time explaining to their customers what the most effective options are.

Simon White, Founder of White Space Construction, said: “We often talk to our customers about the options to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. For example, they might be interested in getting an air source heat pump, but if the rest of the house would benefit from better insulation and new windows, it might be the wrong thing to prioritise. We specialise in Victorian properties, which have their own challenges when it comes to improving energy efficiency, but we’ll always advise on the best options.

“The recent changes to the Building Regulations mean that materials like insulation need to perform better, but this comes with a higher price tag. As such, it’s important for us to have access to up-to-date material costs as well as have the knowledge required to advise homeowners on the best home improvements for their needs and the property type.”

Karl Nicholson, Founder of K Design and Build, said: “An important part of our role is to educate homeowners on different ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Often, they will have done some initial research themselves, but the right solution will always depend on each individual project.

“Basic improvements tend to be replacing windows and doors, as well as wall and loft insulation. Then, once we’ve improved the thermal performance of a building, we can then explore more energy efficiency heating options. It’s positive that consumers are asking more about eco home improvements and it’s a good time to educate people on how their properties can play a crucial role in helping the environment, as well as enhance their comfort and quality of life.”

Commenting on the findings, Andrew Cushing, Customer Director at Jewson, said: “Increasingly, tradespeople are seeing their customers ask how they can improve the energy efficiency of their home to help manage rising energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. On top of that, in June 2022 we had some of the most significant changes to building regulations in over 10 years, which included increased insulation in walls, floors and roofs, and a greater focus on renewable energy technology. There has also been the recent introduction of the new Great British Insulation Scheme, and the  Future Homes Standard is set to be introduced in 2025 – all of which are driving purchasing in this area further.

“We know from our research that 61% of tradespeople are looking for support from their building merchant on energy efficient building solutions. To play our part we are helping to close the skills gap in sustainable building options by providing accredited training courses in areas including insulation. We also offer a route to MCS certification. Plus, we’re continuing to improve our Making Better Homes product range. It features the latest innovations in building products and systems, including solar panels, air source heat pumps and sedum roofs, to help tradespeople maximise quality, productivity and profit, while building comfortable, energy efficient spaces that their customers will love.”

The research, which saw over 500 tradespeople across the UK questioned, is available to view online.