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[ ECA Electrical Industry Conference 2010 ]


Knowledge is power


Knowledge equals power, but knowledge also equals profitability. Addressing the opportunities available to contractors from the green agenda, ECA deputy chief executive officer Steve Bratt underlined the need for electrical contractors to move forward into the new potential growth areas and to ensure they had the skills, training and knowledge to take advantage of the changes. Electrical contractors have to


be at the forefront, of introducing new technologies, Bratt said. They will need to understand, sell, install and maintain these technologies. However, Bratt pointed out, a recent survey by the ECA suggested that while 70 per cent of clients would like to be advised on this technology, less than 10 per cent of contractors felt confident to offer advice. Bratt urged the industry to help bridge that knowledge gap in order to seize these opportunities. The deputy CEO believed the


industry had to work together to educate contractors, clients and consumers, and on issues such as lobbying and procurement.


Sustainable interest


A video presentation from Schneider Electric’s David Lewis touched on the key issues about energy efficiency, future legislation, the drivers and opportunities that this presents. He also presented examples of Schneider Electric’s experience and real case solutions in action. Energy efficiency is key to reducing carbon emissions, Lewis stated. He outlined an


easy four-step system Schneider uses for customers to address this: to measure – understanding energy usage; to fix the basics – doing things in the very short term that are easy to fix; to automate – using technology and controls; and to monitor and improve. He described some of the solutions Schneider Electric offers and has implemented in its own internal energy efficiency programme. He also outlined the fast payback that some simple but effective solutions offer.


Growing green n


Electrical contractors have to be ready to take


advantage of the opportunities the green agenda presents – a message the ECA will be doing all it can to get across, group CEO David Pollock emphasised in his highly relevant presentation – ‘Sustainability means profitability for M&E contractors’. While there are challenges


for the industry in adapting to the changes the green agenda demands, there are also many opportunities for businesses that are prepared to look at new ways of doing things, he said. He examined the current


economic climate, carbon reduction policy and legislative changes, plus schemes such as


Nuclear option


A renewed nuclear energy programme is essential if the UK is to meet its commitment to carbon reduction over the coming ears and have secure, affordable energy resources, Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan stated in his ‘New strategies for energy’ presentation. And this will present significant opportunities for electrical contractors as new power stations and infrastructure to support them are rolled out. Lord O’Neill, who is chairman of


FITS, and the implications for the industry. He highlighted some of the opportunities these presented for electrical contractors, while debunking some of the common myths attached to the sustainability agenda. Refurbishment of existing


housing stock was key to meeting carbon reduction targets, he pointed out, while existing technologies and solutions were often more cost effective in the first instance than renewables. M&E contractors already had the skills and experience needed to implement solutions. However, contractors had to be properly informed and have the latest knowledge to be solution providers for customers.


INTEGRATED DESIGN IS CRUCIAL


ECA immediate past president Martin Bailey stepped up to the plate to deliver a presentation on behalf of Stephen Matthews of CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers), that reinforced the message of


integrating sustainability in to the design and engineering process. He spoke about the increasing importance of engineering, both from a contracting and consultancy point of view, and how both consultants and contractors needed to work more closely together. He also looked at how the issue of climate change was at the top of the agenda for the building services and electrical contracting sectors. ‘Sustainability is not anything


ECA immediate past president Martin Bailey


special – it’s going to be something that we’ll have to live with and it’s going to be part of what we do,’ he stated. Sustainability has to be


38 ECA Today Autumn 2010


integrated into the way contactors’ businesses work; it has to bring all specialists together from the start to be part of the design and building process. Integration of all aspects of building design, construction and operation from an early stage is important to reduce waste and cost, he said. ‘It’s not revolutionary – it’s just looking at things in a different way, and pulling teams together.’ Technology and monitoring can


help with sustainability issues, he said, and stressed how this was a massive opportunity for the contracting industry to put itself at the forefront of these changes.


Speed networking


As well as the key addresses from the main speakers, interesting speed networking showcase sessions cranked up the pace for delegates, with short briefings on industry issues, innovations and new products. The fast-paced showcases were dynamic and informative – keeping both speakers and delegates on their toes.


the Nuclear Industry Association, developed the argument for a nuclear energy strategy, which currently makes up 15 per cent of the UK’s energy resources, as an important part of the UK’s future energy mix – and as a key way to progress the sustainability agenda. Although renewables will contribute to energy resources, he maintained that a new generation of nuclear power stations is required to meet growing energy demands. Nuclear energy could contribute up to 35 per cent of UK electricity demands if the previous government’s plans are implemented, he said. New nuclear plant will offer huge opportunities for businesses and require the sort of skills that the electrical industry has. And there will also be opportunities abroad by selling the expertise gained here globally.


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