It’s a milestone year for Dyson Energy Services – celebrating 40 years of trading.
In the past four decades, we’ve seen lots of change within our sector, especially in recent years. Not only due to the various energy efficiency and fuel poverty-driven initiatives but also the standards that installers like us have adopted to provide increased levels of quality and consumer protection. The latest is PAS 2035, which came into effect on the 1st of July 2021. This means it is now mandatory for all work carried out by installers via the ECO3 scheme, to be compliant with new PAS 2035 standards. As a result, we’ve had to diversify and adapt our business significantly in both processes and investment.
To mark this significant change for the industry, we shine a spotlight on the challenges and opportunities that PAS 2035 presents to our business, with a Q&A with Michael Morrall, Head of Business Development, at Dyson Energy Services. Michael, who also represents council at CIGA, has played an instrumental role within the company with much other key personnel, ensuring that we were ready to deliver to the new PAS 2035 standards.
Q: Tell us a little about the role Dyson Energy Services has played in helping to achieve Government targets on fuel poverty?
Since the 1980’s we’ve grown into a nationally recognised installer with an enviable reputation for delivering quality. We estimate that we have delivered over 2.5 million energy-saving measures in insulation, heating, and renewables.
We’re proudly reducing householder’s carbon emissions and energy bills, as well as playing our part in helping to tackle fuel poverty in communities across the country.
We were delighted to be part of the first Government energy efficiency scheme, Standards of Performance (SOP), when it launched in the 90’s. This was the first of many Government driven schemes to come that we have been involved in, including the Carbon Emissions Reductions Target (CERT) initiative, and presently, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
Q: What is PAS 2035?
PAS 2035 is the new overarching standard that we as installers must follow when upgrading the energy efficiency of domestic properties, which are funded via the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).
These new standards were introduced by the Government Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and will be overseen by TrustMark, the only government-endorsed quality mark.
One of the biggest changes is that installers must now assess and install additional ventilation requirements much more rigorously than previously when installing fabric measures.
Q: Why did PAS 2035 come into effect?
The PAS standards have been updated following the recommendations of the Each Home Counts review, commissioned by the Government. This was an independent review, and it outlined several recommendations on how the industry could improve and enhance the householder experience when installing energy efficiency measures.
We welcome and support any changes that benefit householders.
Q: How will the new Government has driven standards to benefit consumers looking to install energy efficiency measures through ECO?
Householders eligible for funding through the Energy Company Obligation will benefit from measures being installed to a new standard. This will give customers peace of mind through better workmanship, increased consumer protection and the confidence that they are receiving the best energy efficiency advice, as well as additional ventilation considered with every measure installed.
Q: What preparation did Dyson Energy Services undertake to ensure a streamlined transition in delivering and installing to new PAS 2035 standards?
There have been various areas of significant investment needed in the business, to ensure we were able to adopt the new standard. Our Domestic Energy Assessors are now upskilled to Retrofit Assessor Qualifications. All Installers are now NVQ Qualified in their fields of expertise, and we now have Retrofit Designers and Coordinators too. A great deal of work has been done to upskill the administrative teams too, as they also play key roles in the customer journey. Investment in improved I.T. Equipment/Software as well as the forming of new partnerships with manufacturers and designers of ventilation equipment and systems has taken place.
Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge for the industry, transitioning and delivering to PAS 2035 standards?
In a recent poll we published on LinkedIn, we found that 86% of people think our industry is at risk of under-delivering on ECO3 targets due to new PAS standards, impacting those in fuel poverty, which the scheme is designed for. Furthermore, 45% of people think the most challenging aspect of transitioning to PAS, will be customers rejecting ventilation.
There were a reasonable number of contractors who voted in the poll to suggest delivery would be slowed and at risk of under-delivering. The voters in our recent poll that supported the same view in greater numbers were Assessors, Coordinators, Material and Equipment Manufacturers, Managing Agents as well as several obligated Energy Companies too interestingly.
We agree that it isn’t perfect and as an organisation that has been around for nearly 40 years and has embraced all the changes in that time, this was to a degree to be expected. In fairness, the funders have recognised this and, in most cases, supported the increased costs of delivery initially which has been most helpful to the supply chain. However, the concern is greater than that of the costs and practicality of the measures we get paid to install.
The wider concern presently is the dropout from customers rejecting these measures, in many, because of them being very concerned about over-ventilating specifically. We have seen as many as 60% of customers reject funded measures that will need to be PAS-compliant in the private sector because of this. Costs of delivery relative to the funding attracted in smaller dwellings are also again being left out of fuel poverty-driven schemes because they aren’t commercially viable to support.
Q: Has PAS 2035 created opportunities for existing employees?
Absolutely. We recognize that our best asset is our people. That’s why we invested in the necessary training, to upskill our employees and take them with us on the PAS 2035 journey.
All our employed Domestic Energy Assessors have been trained to be Retrofit Assessors, some of which now have Retrofit Designer and Coordinator status.
We’ve trained all our installation teams across the country, so they are now able to fit background ventilation to customers’ properties, helping to streamline the customer journey.
Additionally, it seemed a natural bolt-on to expand our electrical division with additions made to the team to support the anticipated delivery requirements and wider renewable growth strategy.
Q: Has there been enough collaboration across the industry and its supply chain?
More industry collaboration is needed now in respect of the practical delivery elements of PAS 2035, including interpretation which despite the time we have all had to get ready for and invest against, some of it is simply unclear. You can ask the same question of 3 x PAS accreditation bodies and get 3 different answers still today, which from a technical and monitoring perspective that fundamentally impacts our ability to be paid, is very concerning. Contractors being accredited and ready within their own ranks is one thing, if the various accreditation bodies aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet on many interpretations, this will create all sorts of problems down the line.
Working closely with industry partners such as CIGA/IAA is helping for sure but as an industry a lot more needs be done and many more creases to be ironed out if delivery targets are to be achievable for many.
Q: If there is one piece of learning that you would share with your fellow installers, what would it be?
Not to be afraid of engaging in collaborative groups from within the industry and as a collective. Overventilation is a very real risk to consumers if delivered to the guidelines as they are currently being interpreted. Air Permeability tests as well as other alternative solutions could provide much better insight into the individual dwelling fabric performance. This learning should help installers to provide more effective tailored solutions as opposed to over-ventilating regardless, of an over-engineered textbook standard.