The BFRC/Fensa WER Shambles

Last week marked the one month deadline for conformity to the new Building Regulations coming into play on October 1st. September has so far been a manic rush for fabricators, IGU manufacturers and retailers alike to sign up/register for any form of compliance in order to safeguard the impending changes. These said changes were meant to change our industry for the better, providing more stringent guidelines and helping buildings and households around the nation become more energy efficient, whilst hopefully singling out those that had no respect for both the industry and their customers.

So, having invested heavily in the one and only scheme available until August, fabricators much like ourselves and Window Warehouse have been at the expense of the BFRC out of fear of non-compliance come October. As a medium-sized business this has been a difficult year, not due to business, but due to the roundabout occurrences from the GGF monopoly on the industry. Much like our competitors we have spent the last 6 months trying to comprehend the WER Rating Scheme and ensuring that our Haven Products are ready for our customers well in time for the changes.

We at Window Warehouse have now had all of our PVC-U casement windows energy rated and are waiting on ratings on our Tilt & Turns and Large Outer Frames.

This preparation and investment, however, now seems like a complete waste of time. A letter from FENSA dated August 2010 but arriving right at the end of the month, now states that the other option of compliance against a minimum ‘U’ value means that energy rated certificates are not needed as evidence to the consumer or inspector. This is as long as the PVC-U or timber window and frame is fitted with a sealed unit containing:

> Low E Glass

> Warm Edge Spacer (minimum 16mm)

> 90% Argon Gas

If these requirements are met by the IGU then ‘FENSA will consider without further evidence that the ‘U’ value of 1.6 has been achieved.’

FENSA will also be providing an online ‘U’ value Calculator from mid-September that will provide simulation calculations and its results will be stored in the FENSA database, as well as results from previous calculations made. The online calculator will cost only £199 per year for an unlimited number of calculations.

This is in stark contrast to the BFRC Scheme changes, with Detailed Energy Licence Holders having to pay £50 a time for Certificates of Addition, on top of the simulation and previous testing costs.

As for the retailers and builders, the Authorised Retailer Scheme at between £325 and £750 was also recently undercut by FENSA, offering a cut-price offer of approximately £150.

This highlights how the Glass and Glazing Federation have basically favoured those in the industry who simply didn’t want to partake in costly means of improving and rating their products. It allows the 90% of fabricators, as outlined by Nathan Bushell of the Gl@zine, who hadn’t signed up for the WER Scheme to continue to skim the lines of compliance to any form of regulation. Those that weren’t aware of the impending implications or who just didn’t care have been given free reign within what should be a set of stringent guidelines.

What baffles me is how two organisations owned by the same conglomerate could cancel each other out in the run up to one of the biggest governmental changes to have implications on the industry since 2006. How can either company justify confusing and duping so many businesses within the trade? It is simply wrong and people need to start speaking up against it, otherwise the BFRC, Fensa and the GGF as a whole will continue to tighten their stronghold on a seemingly unaware industry that doesn’t deserve the costly and damaging aftermath of what appears to be a complete planning and administrative shambles.

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