COP 26 – Installer CEO Eoin McManus asks what it means for the industry

Installer CEO Eoin McManus takes a look back at the recent Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), and what it means for the industry.

The eyes of the world were on Glasgow in early November as world leaders, the press and climate protesters from around the globe, all gathered to address the monumental issue of climate change.

Unfortunately, things got off to a stuttering start as many of the big names, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US president Joe Biden, flew to Scotland on private jets. Hardly the greenest mode of transport.

Things like this get picked up and scrutinised on social media platforms and in the papers, but it does highlight the enormity of the climate change challenge.

To achieve the UK carbon budgets, which will lower emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, all of us, as human beings, are going to have to change the way we go about our daily lives. Oh and by the way, those budgets are enshrined in law.

Transport, aviation, and the way we heat our homes and buildings is going to change, as we all look to move away from fossil fuel burning appliances, and tackle the wastage crisis.

Electric vehicles now account for more than 10% of new UK car sales, and that number will continue to rise. We will have to seriously look at our use of airplanes, and favour greener methods of transport like trains, especially for domestic travel. And then there’s the heat pumps, hydrogen boilers, district heating and other renewable technologies that will replace our fossil-fuel burning heating appliances.

Change is coming for all of us, but is it coming fast enough?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed COP26 as game changing while others, including youth activist Greta Thunberg slammed it.

On the run up, and during the conference, the government published its long-awaited Net Zero Strategy – Build Back Greener, and the Environmental Bill was passed into law.

What’s clear is that never has so much time, attention and investment been put into environmental causes.

For the heating, plumbing, electrical and renewables industry though, there is a feeling of frustration, as we have the technology and skills to have a real impact on climate change at our disposal now.

Thermostatic radiator valves can produce a saving of up to 36% on heat energy, but are they installed in all buildings in the UK?

Heat loss calculations can provide a clear and accurate picture of the required heating system that needs to be installed in a property, but this isn’t adopted by all engineers. As Rob Berridge from Heat Engineer Software says, if you’re not calculating, you’re guessing.

Hydronic balancing can stop buildings wasting energy by up to 10%, and save money on system costs.

The day I wrote this, Installer received an email from an engineer offering to provide an article aimed at his peers, on the benefits of weather compensation, which can improve efficiency by 10-40%.

Water treatment, deaeration, dirt separation, upgrading emitters, making sure boilers are modulating correctly, insulation, the list goes on and on.

These are products available NOW that installers can fit NOW that will have a huge impact on carbon emissions and energy bills, without breaking the bank or sacrificing comfort.

Whatever technology we use to heat our homes in the future we will need quality products to be installed and maintained by quality engineers. In the UK, I firmly believe we have both of these boxes ticked, but we need more direction from the decision-makers.

Now that COP26 is over, the talking has finished, so let’s hope the action will start, because time is running out.


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