East Lancashire Visit by Jonathan Reynolds MP and Shadow Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change

The East Lancashire offices of AECB Chair Peter Wilkinson received a visit on 26 January 2015 from Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde and Shadow Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, along with County and District Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Pendle, Azhar Ali. Mr Reynolds asked about the work Peter’s businesses, Dales Contracts (building contractors), Dales Renewables and EcoDesign Architecture have been carrying out in the low energy building, refurbishment and renewables sectors.

Mr Reynolds was interested in work the AECB has been involved with, particularly in the low energy and refurbishment sectors. Peter highlighted the AECB’s new initiative, the CarbonLite Retrofit suite of courses, to be launched later in 2015, designed to educate the building refurbishment sector based on sound scientific principles.

The Shadow Minister also heard about the work the Passivhaus Trust is doing to promote the Passivhaus and EnerPhit standards in the UK. Mr Reynolds was well informed of a number of Passivhaus schemes and was keen to follow the progress of future Passivhaus projects and the work of the Passivhaus Trust.

Peter took the opportunity to discuss the Government’s revised Zero Carbon Homes initiative and the need for such laudable initiatives to have a realistic approach with achievable step-changes to enable the construction industry to up-skill and learn from good practice, based on sound principles. He highlighted the AECB’s Silver Standard and its new certification scheme rolled out in 2014 as an example of such a step-change between current Building Regulation standards and Passivhaus Standards.

The renewables sector was widely discussed including the disruptive effects digression in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) rates and Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs) have had on the sector’s businesses. Peter called for a commitment and a concerted effort from Government to promote renewables and green technologies to continue the reduction in the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels. He pointed out the damaging `peaks and troughs’ endured by renewable businesses as a result of the tariff changes and that the uncertainty of the tariff rates had sapped the sector’s ability to effectively plan and invest confidently in the renewables market.

Mr Reynolds picked up copies of the Green Building and Passivhaus Plus magazines for some light reading on the train back to Westminster that afternoon.