the Glastonbury branch is really the first rung of that ladder.

“Sustainability can’t be a side project for Bradfords as it has been in the past. This is a marker in the sand that, from here on, we have a complete change of policy. Not only in the way we operate our company internally but the way we view it externally and the way we are viewed externally.

This will cover how we approach our catalogue – it’ll go online with a section around sustainability. We want to be able to offer environmentally sustainable products and services to our customers. What are the alternatives or indeed new solutions to traditional materials and products, and do we have those available to our customers who want them? In terms of insulation, yes, we have PIR, but why can’t we also offer wool insulation, or straw insulation or all those Grand Design kind of solutions? We also need our suppliers to really come to the fore and some are being better than others in this area.” Starting out as agricultural merchants 250 years ago, before moving into builders’ merchanting and then in and out again of manufacturing, Bradfords has been good at moving with the times, Young says. “I think one of the things that makes us stand out is that we are adaptable. There is a willingness to really drive this agenda.” Communications and Engagement Manager, Giles Bradford, is Sustainability Lead at Bradfords: “It’s very exciting to be able to get into this properly and to be able to drive it,” he says. “Also being able to see what is coming down the line at us. I believe that the Covid pandemic has supressed the climate agenda to a certain extent, but I firmly believe that once

we exit it, this will be the next thing we will have to tackle.”

Bradford believes that the new Bradfords Sustainable Home Centre will be a great benefit in helping to educate this area of the market, the builder and the RMI customer who know what they want but aren’t aware of what options are out there. “We’ll be able to talk to them about the options and show them the different types of product, which will be all up and running,” he says.

Householder mindset He says that one of the problems is that, in general, people are not yet viewing their homes with their carbon footprint in mind. “Their house is their home, and lifestyle improvements such as their patio and barbeque are probably still at the top of their agenda, as opposed to the kind of less visible, but much more impactful on the environment, measures. Seen, quite rightly, as a traditional builders’ merchant, we are known for selling bricks and sand and cement. So, a key part of our strategy is that we have got to help everyone along the way. There will come a time where an air source heat pump isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a must have, as will having the right insulation. Right now, we are positioning ourselves to support this..” Bradford adds: “There has to be that fundamental need in the market for these. There’s a need for education and for people understanding what alternatives are out there and why they should be used.”

Young says that a major issue is the current building regulations timescale.

“We are still building homes that are out of date, regulations-wise by the time they are completed. Some 28 million homes in this

country will require some sort of retro-fit addition to make them carbon zero. That’s an astonishing number, especially when you consider that we are currently struggling to build 200,000 homes a year anyway. “The crux of it is that over the next 19 years or so we have to touch 28 million homes and without a major effort and shift in the industry, it simply can’t be done. The industry can’t get away with what it has done in the past which is to put its head in the sand until something becomes mandatory and then react to it. This is too big and too important. I hope that at Bradfords we can lead the independent charge on this. Together with the BMF I think we have a fantastic opportunity to be able to work with the government on delivering workable, deliverable solutions. It a fabulous opportunity that we have to wake up to.

“Sir David Attenborough has been shouting about this forever and, while people are starting to listen, they’re not doing anything about it. That’s where we are coming from at Bradfords, that it is time to do something about it, time to help our customers do something about it. “There are some innovate and effective products out there to solve the challenge that the construction industry faces around climate change. We’ve got to make them mainstream, and I think Bradfords can play a big role. The RMI builder, our core customer, is effectively doing what they’ve been asked to do by their customer. They’re doing it to a cost and the reality is they’re doing it to a conventional house that wants something conventional changing or being added to it. So, there’s a real challenge, but we believe we are getting to a place where we can help to meet that challenge.” BMJ

April 2021


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