It will come as news to some of you that there is such a thing as a Considerate Contractors Scheme (CCS) in existence, which is due to publish its new code of practice in the new year, with the aim of making considerate contractors of us all.

The new regulations, which have been in development for the past three years, take the form of a five-point code. All CCS-registered sites and companies will be assessed against this code by scheme monitors, who will be charged with checking all registered sites and companies, as well as reporting and scoring the visit.

The new code, due to be implemented as of 1 January 2013, will replace the eight-point code which has remained largely unchanged for the past 15 years. However, with the expected standards having changed over the years, it is time raise the bar, with so many sites easily meeting the requirements of the code.

So, as of the new year, the five sections of the code will include:

•    Enhancing the appearance
•    Respecting the community
•    Protecting the environment
•    Securing safety
•    Caring for the workforce

To give contractors a thorough understanding of the new code, each section will be accompanied by an aspirational statement, along with four bullet points which list the areas the scheme considers within that section.

The latest incarnation of the Considerate Contractors Scheme is to introduce a scoring system, which scores each section out of a maximum 10 points. 5 points for each section signifies compliance, whilst a score of 10 signifies that registered sites or companies have introduced innovative practices or thinking that goes far beyond the expectations of the scheme, working to advance the standards by which the industry is judged.

Scheme chief executive Edward Hardy said: “After three years in development, the scheme is pleased to publish the new code and supporting documents. Working with a number of contractors and clients throughout the review process, the scheme is confident that the new code remains in keeping with the industry’s values, presenting an exciting challenge for registered sites and companies in raising the benchmark of considerate construction.”

The Green Deal has been launched by the government to help people heat and light their homes more efficiently and affordably. Britain has some of the oldest and most inefficient building stock in Europe and consumers pay a high price for running inefficient buildings. The innovative Green Deal financing mechanism allows householders to have energy efficiency improvements to their homes with little or no initial cash outlay and then to payback the cost of the measures over an extended period.

In the meantime, as well as enjoying improved comfort, householders will be able to reduce the impact of rising energy bills. The Green Deal has been designed to help finance the installation of a broad range of improvements from the insulation, glazing, microgeneration, lighting and heating sectors. The Green Deal’s ‘Golden Rule’ ensures that the savings associated with the measures must always match or exceed the installation costs.

Consumers will also receive advice about how they can save money by simple changes in behaviour. In short, you should save more than you spend. Interested householders will first receive a visit from an impartial, accredited Green Deal adviser, who will carry out a full survey of the home and a study of how the building is used. This information is used to produce a report which defines the measures recommended for each home. This report can be used to obtain quotations from as many Green Deal providers as desired. Once an acceptable quotation has been obtained and an agreement signed then an accredited Green Deal installer will carry out the work. The cost of the measures will be recovered by instalments applied to electricity bills for periods of up to 25 years.

Most of the 45 energy effi ciency improvements that qualify for Green Deal are well within the capability of a competent heating installer. With minimal additional training however, a further range of measures also becomes available. We are confident the majority of heating installers will be more than capable of implementing all such measures in order to take full advantage of the many new business opportunities that Green Deal will undoubtedly create.

Each Green Deal package of individual energy efficiency measures is carefully structured to ensure all measures are eligible for full or partial funding. Green Deal plans will be assembled in different ways depending on individual circumstances.

1. A very small number of Green Deal Plans will include measures that meet the Golden Rule & will receive 100% funding

2. Most arrangements will include a package of Green Deal measures that partially meet the Golden Rule but require additional funding from the improver

3. Green Deal measures for solid wall insulation (ie no cavity wall space) or difficult cavities will receive an ECO contribution to partially support the cost

4. Green Deal Plans for households in the Super Priority Group will receive 100% ECO funding under the Affordable Warmth Scheme.

Northern Ireland is setting the precedent for the rest of the UK to follow after new regulations introduced on 31 October made it a legal requirement for carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to be fitted in all homes where a new or replacement appliance, which is not used solely for cooking, is installed.

The Scottish government have been quick to follow suit and are currently consulting on the introduction of similar proposals, whilst the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) is creating as much noise as possible in a bid to convince the government in Westminster and the Welsh Assembly to revisit the outdated stance they have taken on the mandatory installation of CO alarms.

Currently homes in England and Wales are only legally required to fit carbon monoxide alarms if new or replacement appliances installed in their homes are powered by solid fuel, although industry figures do not think this is enough, and for good reason.

Recent research released by Energy UK shows there as many as 35 million people in the UK who are still at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite a good amount of publicity and work to increase awareness of the dangers of CO poisoning, many people still mistakenly believe their smoke alarm will detect the presence of carbon monoxide.

Despite this progress, some industry figures still believe the compulsory installation of carbon monoxide alarms is not enough, and the only way to remove the risk is to prevent CO from being produced, rather than merely detecting when it is. James Murray from the Gas Safe Register explains: “If we could ensure everyone has their safety appliances checked every year, more people would be safe from carbon monoxide. CO alarms are only a second line of defence, but are vital to alerting you of the gas’ presence.”

One thing is for sure: CO alarms alone are not the answer. As is all too often the case with smoke alarms, they are regularly installed and forgotten about, with homeowners believing themselves to be safe from fire thereafter, without conducting any maintenance checks to ensure batteries are live and sensors are still working.

Any progress on this issue is certainly welcomed, and for now, making the installation of carbon monoxide alarms compulsory in every UK home is certainly a good start. Watch this space...

A new strategy published by the Welsh government has been introduced to prompt contractors to take greater steps to increase the waste they recycle and reduce the amount sent to landfill.

The plan, which has been produced in tandem with Constructing Excellence in Wales, has a goal of reducing the amount of waste which ends up in landfill to close to zero by the end of 2025. The ultimate aim, by 2050, is to ensure 100 per cent of construction and demolition waste produced by the industry is recycled.

Currently the construction industry alone accounts for 14 per cent of Wales’ ecological footprint for waste, which environment minister John Griffiths believes needs to be reduced: “As well as being an integral contributor to the Welsh economy, the construction industry is a large consumer of natural resources, producing 12.2 million tonnes of waste each year in Wales alone.

"Taking action to reduce the environmental impact of the construction sector is critical as our current level of waste is totally unsustainable. We have an obligation to ensure we use our resources wisely.

“The ultimate aim is to turn high quality recycled waste into a valuable resource that does not cause environmental harm, rather than it ending up in landfill.”

If you’d like to take a look at the Welsh government’s strategy for yourself, then click here.