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Awards reward T

The National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) awards now showcase some of the best work by electrical contractors – and your company could be involved. Andrew Leech, executive director of the NHIC, explains

here are very few annual award schemes that can boast 35 successful years – but the National Home Improvement Council’s (NHIC) awards have survived the test of time and continue to move

forward from strength to strength. Indeed, they are widely acknowledged as the UK’s premier

housing awards event and are highly regarded by everyone concerned with home and environmental improvement. This means that electrical industry participants – including ECA members – should be extremely well placed to challenge for one of the NHIC’s coveted plaques and certifi cates. What’s more, the NHIC awards creates a great opportunity

for winners and runners-up to generate their own publicity – locally or nationwide. The awards are a showcase of the very best achievements and of remarkable ingenuity in the fi eld of home renovation and local regeneration.

Sponsors One major reason why the awards have been so popular is their consistent sponsorship by the NHIC board, which includes such characters as past presidents Lord Ezra, a previous chairman of the National Coal Board, and Lord Brooke, of Sutton Mandeville, secretary of state for Northern Ireland in the Thatcher government. The awards are now endorsed by the current NHIC president, The Rt. Hon. Nick Raynsford, MP. The award presentations are always made after a November lunch in London’s Gladstone Library, attended by leading government ministers, such as Chris Huhne, Grant Shapps, Michael Gove, John Healey and, most recently, by Alison Seabeck. Each year there are at least 10 award categories, embracing

virtually every facet of housing improvement. One of them is sponsored by the ECA, in conjunction with the National Housing Federation, and is concerned with the best housing association modernisation project ‘showing innovation of signifi cant benefi t for the community’. Each category is carefully reviewed every 12 months to

ensure that it keeps pace with the changing face of home improvements and remains truly representative of the very broadest activities of local authorities, housing associations, developers, private landlords and developers, housebuilders, building companies, contractors, electrical and heating contractors, and so on. The awards are designed to refl ect every activity in the home improvement sector. There are currently around 26

32 ECA Today May 2011

million homes in the UK, constituting one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe, and to improve them in line with the latest zero carbon emission requirements over the next four decades will cost around £400 billion. It is estimated that the cost per dwelling could be between

£20,000 and £80,000 – and one of the award’s main aims is to indicate how these costs could be best applied.

Changes Ever since the NHIC and its awards were established in 1975, the face of home improvement has changed dramatically. It used to be mainly new kitchens and bathrooms, plus the odd splash of paint. But now it’s much more sophisticated and technology orientated, which means that special knowledge and expertise comes into play. The awards always endeavour to reflect the current

emphasis of home modernisation and improvement. They are now essentially about raising the profile of energy effi ciency, reducing fuel poverty, saving money, improving safety and, of course, creating jobs in an industry that is facing challenging times.

Highlights Through the awards, the NHIC has been able to highlight many important housing issues. For instance, last year the ECA category highlighted an important project to put back into use a former cottage hospital. As part of English Partnerships’ £300m nationwide renovation initiative, this red brick buildingin Ledbury, Herefordshire now provides 32 affordable homes for Two Rivers Housing. The ECA category has always been very popular. In a

previous year, for example, it focused on a Drum Housing Association scheme, which drew attention to the cost-saving use of ground source heat pumps to enhance hot water production, and photovoltaic panels to produce money- saving electricity generation. The NHIC awards are one key way of drawing peoples’

About the author

Andrew Leech Andrew Leech is executive director of the National Home Improvement Council.

attention to the big achievements being made in the very important construction sector, as everyone who becomes involved in the awards underlines the signifi cance of energy effi cient improvement and installing the latest technologies into our housing stock. Most of all, the NHIC awards are a great platform for everyone to demonstrate their contribution to ensuring our homes are far cheaper to run and better places in which live, in these challenging days where we strive for zero carbon emissions.

■ The NHIC welcomes submissions for its annual awards from ECA members and their associate companies. It’s easy to enter, by simply completing the form on the website – – and sending your submission electronically either as a PDF or Word fi le. Alternatively, you can make a submission by post, but fi rst please call 020 7448 3853 or 020 7448 3854.

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