Industry eye

Photo of Kristina SmithThe following article has been written by Kristina Smith, former Editor of Construction Manager.

This is not just construction...

Government ministers seem to think that big retailers like M&S, B&Q or Tesco would make a better job of running big housing refurbishment programmes than contractors do. One of the big issues is customer care: apparently we’re not very good at it.

There’s a lot at stake here: 26 million homes will require energy efficiency improvements over the next 20 years because the government has legally committed itself to reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).

Even the government’s Chief Construction Adviser, Paul Morrell, who is ex-Davis Langdon, has said that he doesn’t think the industry has the customer care skills to cope with the inevitably traumatised householders who must have their homes upgraded in the name of Carbon reduction.

The coalition government has come up with a plan for tackling the homes upgrade: the Green Deal, which will be fleshed out in the Government’s Energy, Security and Green Energy Bill due this autumn.When David Cameron announced the idea back in November 2009, M&S and Tesco were already signed up.

The Green Deal will see loans paid out to householders and some small businesses for energy efficiency improvements, predominantly insulation. A portion of the savings made on fuel bills will go to repay the loan over a 25 year period.

Morrell has called on the industry to get its act together and propose ways we could carry out the upgrades, including how the work would be financed. We will hear more from Morrell in November when the Low Carbon Construction Innovation and Growth Team (IGT) he has been heading up publishes its final report. This will be worth a read because it is the work of some of the industry’s best brains, looking at the business opportunities for construction as the UK moves towards a low carbon economy.

I believe that construction can rise to the customer care challenge and I base my belief on personal experience:  the Morrison workers digging up the pavements near my house are every bit as courteous and helpful as the Tesco staff at my local store. Now all we have to do is convince the government...

Each edition of Industry Image will feature an article by Kristina Smith about current industry issues or new initiatives within construction.