Jon Vanstone, chair at Certass Trade Association, discusses the PAS 2030 review, what it could mean for our sector, and the need to redress the balance for SMEs…
Once again, we are at a review point for PAS 2030, starting this month with a short time- line to produce a draft document during May 2021. The impact of this standard so far has been of little interest to glazing as the focus application to date has been on the insulation industry. Therefore, there has only been minor attention paid by businesses within the glazing sector to this and the other surrounding PAS documents such as PAS 2035.
However, with the advent of the Green Homes Grant (GHG) voucher scheme and the potential promises of future funding by Government for energy related work through BEIS, the interest in this standard has dramatically risen.
If BEIS are wedded to this standard, and they are helping drive the climate change agenda in our country, we need to ensure that its requirements are as fair and usable as possible by glazing companies.
Unfortunately for the SME fitters in glazing, the standard was amended in the 2019 version
taking it away from a collective position for competence and into an area that demands quality management systems and qualifications. The 2017 version accepted Competent Person Scheme MTCs, so those who complied for registering work for building control through CP schemes would also have been competent as regards PAS 2030.
The aim in this undertaking was to cement qualifications as a must for all those working
in sectors such as ours. Such a fundamental change should have been met with a proper impact analysis, as surely if it had, the amends would have been dismissed. Competence and qualifications are not the same thing and it is an unfair position on our sector to expect such a collective change to the dynamic of how we work.
Other sectors, such as roofing, are working on equivalence positions where experienced workers and qualified workers are both aligned in assessment and then accepted by external bodies such as CITB and the Construction Industry Council. So once again glazing is playing ‘catch-up’ and we can no longer ignore the requirements of PAS 2030 if we want to connect into future funding. Therefore, it is up to the bodies and associations who represent our sector to try and affect a suitable change that ensures competence whilst being attainable by the majority of businesses who are working correctly.
Continual learning needs to be adopted throughout the construction industry so that those who install are always up to date with regulations and best practice. Assessments should be focussed on a combination of both the business and the person who installed the work, so that we can help those who are not at the right level through learning.
Unfortunately, this PAS 2030 qualification requirement has served only to bring to market cheap qualification imitations, that look right from the outside but seem to deliver very little regarding quality. Qualifications gained entirely remotely in a technical industry should be viewed with great suspicion, and often the price is a great indicator of the true value.
However, I believe there is a potential silver lining with this latest review, due to the fact this review is also for PAS 2035, which is based on the whole house retrofit position and the need for a ‘retrofit coordinator’ to oversee the work and the total energy benefits. PAS 2035 is part of PAS 2030 and you cannot adhere to the 2019 standard and not comply with PAS 2035 too.
With the requirement for a retrofit coordinator (RC) being seen as a benefit for the future,
if these RCs are made to be entirely neutral
from installing businesses, there creates an opportunity to increase their responsibility and accountability at the benefit of removing needless requirements from installers. If the energy related work is overseen through a process driven RC led delivery, then installers potentially need only show up on site and do what they do best.
GHG allowed use of PAS 2030:2017 which aligned with the requirement of Competent Person Schemes. With a proper RC led provision and the appropriate protections and documentation, we may be able to return to this earlier position if we lobby correctly. This will bring our SMEs in to line with potential Government funding and is a position our industry associations should be looking to create for the good of our sector.
We know that some big businesses will create separate companies to undertake retrofit work as a tied business. This may not be in the spirit of the rules but happens all too often. Nevertheless, independent RCs are bound to appear helping consumers, government and installers alike. Let’s hope that the review delivers some sensible practical changes aimed at enabling SMEs just as much as large contractors.