The National Insulation Association explains how it’s adapting its approach to suit changes in the construction industry
The National Insulation Association (NIA) is a leading trade body in the insulation industry representing manufacturers, system providers and installers of cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, including external, internal and hybrid systems, loft/roof insulation and draught proofing.
Traditionally for years the NIA membership has primarily focused on the domestic retrofit market and rightly so as there are still millions of un-insulated properties. However, there has been a significant downturn and volatility that has been experienced in the retrofit market under the ECO and Green Deal schemes and therefore the NIA is focusing efforts on supporting its members in accessing opportunities in other markets including new build and commercial. As part of this work the NIA established a new Market and Business Development Working Group last year.
Figures published in the Economic and Construction Market Review in November reveal that the value of construction contracts awarded in September 2014 was at its highest level since last January with an even split across sectors. The report indicates a widening of construction activity with growth more evenly spread. With recent forecasts from the Construction Products Association also predicting 23 per cent growth by the end of 2018, this positive news looks set to continue with the construction industry.
With this upturn and many NIA members having the transferable skills, they have already branched out from the retrofit market to different market sectors.
One member for instance, currently works across a number of market sectors, from domestic householders and landlords through to commercial contractors, local authorities and housing associations, with years of experience in commercial, new build and retrofit insulation.
A number of NIA members have the technical expertise to give advice on building regulations, SAP and U-value calculations to assist clients in delivering their carbon reduction, energy saving or thermal upgrade obligations. A multi-measure approach by many installers enables them to provide ‘whole house solutions’, ranging from insulation through to heating, plumbing and renewables.
The theme of the NIA Annual Conference held in December very much reflected its new approach with the theme of ‘Building a Sustainable Future for the Industry’. The conference was extremely positive, with a strong focus on accessing achievable opportunities in the new build, retrofit and commercial markets.
Energy saving needs to become a national priority and more emphasis needs to be put on the importance of this and how it can be reduced. The country needs to educate the next generation now on why they should reduce their energy consumption.
In order to bring this about the NIA believes that a fundamental change in thinking and the policy framework is needed. To date government has focused on short term policies and schemes with the associated peaks and troughs and lack of stability in the market to provide industry and householders with the confidence to invest.
What is now required is a long term, sustainable energy efficiency delivery plan. To this end, in July a coalition of 20 leading environmental groups, charities, membership organisations and trade associations came together to launch a major new campaign: ‘A housing stock fit for the future – making home energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority’. This calls for energy efficiency retrofit of the UK housing stock to be reclassified by government as a National Infrastructure Priority backed up by capital investment of around £3-4 billion per year. The campaign has attracted a lot of attention and support to date. However, for an ambitious plan of this nature to come to fruition it will require cross party support and a commitment to this new approach.
Over the coming months the coalition will continue to engage with all political parties to seek support for Energy Efficiency Retrofit becoming a national infrastructure priority.
The NIA has seen a sharp increase in insulation companies joining the association in the last year to benefit from the support it can provide to help them maximise business opportunities.
Membership of the NIA is much more than simply obtaining a logo that companies can place on their marketing materials. It’s about receiving good quality information, advice and support in accessing business opportunities and being regarded as the preferred choice by consumers and specifiers to carry out insulation works.