Why Low Carbon Homes?

So why did I create Low Carbon Homes?

A little about me and my business. Graham Lock

I’m Graham Lock, founder of Cogent Events, the creators of Low Carbon Homes.

We specialize in creating new events that bring people together to do business and solve problems.

Specialised, niche events have proven to be a resilient form of media, in which most major brands continue to invest in heavily, due to the very personal nature of meeting face-to-face, and the increasingly number of technical advances that make it possible to capture enormous amounts of data, insight and understanding through event generated interactions.

We use proven technology and methodology to develop tailored event models to help solve a problem for an industry niche. We work with key industry influencers to create and deliver annual must-attend events to achieve remarkable outcomes for all participants – year after year.

For the last 3 years we’ve been instrumental in the creation of two major industry events – one is an international event called FOCUS in London for TV/Film producers. Producers shoot all around the World, but can’t afford the time or cost of exploring the thousands of options open to them. Our solution, with FOCUS, was to bring the locations to London – the Worlds 2nd biggest TV/Film production hub. We’ve just sold our shareholding in FOCUS.

The other event was for installers (the guys in the vans) who spend their whole working week either driving or working “on the tools” so they struggle to keep up with the latest developments in domestic heating and plumbing. Being hands-on people an event format works really well, so we were commissioned to create a new, very practical event by the industry’s biggest media brand. After just three years the Installer show in Coventry is the UK’s largest trade show for the industry, and FOCUS is regarded as Europe’s premier location event.

We work with media owners, membership associations and government organisations to understand and agree a problem that can be solved through industry collaboration and dialogue. Following our proven methodology, we bring key industry actors together, facilitate their interaction and measure results and impacts helping to drive the industry forward towards achieving their goal.

UK housingThe evolution of the Low Carbon Home idea
Existing heating and plumbing events mainly serve urban environments fueled by mains gas. With the Installer show we struggled to engage event visitors in conversations involving alternatives to mains gas – oil, renewables etc, simply because their own customers were generally happy with their existing source of heat, and lacked awareness, or the need for awareness, of alternatives.

Each year the event’s success improved (visitor and exhibitor numbers and satisfaction rose each year, best launch show award nomination), yet we were unable to engage manufacturers or heating engineers in a conversation about any fuel source other than gas, despite 15% of UK homes – that’s 4 million – being heated by alternative costly means.

Low Carbon Homes emerged as an opportunity to facilitate a conversation about those 4 million homes (and the rest of the UK eventually) and how those home owners can become pioneers in 21st Century energy efficient living.

The problem we’re seeking to resolve
The scale of the problem is significant. We recognise that. It’s global and local.

Global issue –
13% of UK CO2 emissions come from heating homes. £3.6bn is to be invested by UK Government to meet the objectives set out in their Clean Growth Strategy published in October 2017 as part of the wider plan to meet Paris Agreement obligations and reduce CO2 emissions from homes by a further 20%. Rapid take up in domestic energy efficiency is vital if the UK is to achieve its global obligations.

Cold homes are also unhealthy homes – Building Research Establishment estimates the cost to the NHS of ill-health as a result of cold homes to be at least £760m per year.

thermal readingsConfusion –
The sheer scale of the wider global warming problem, number of organisations involved in offering solutions and the role home owners play in rising to the challenge can confuse even the most engaged. This results in a default “do nothing” scenario where homeowners replace existing systems with a like for like replacement, encouraged by their trusted professional service providers – who themselves are naturally conservative, resistant to change and not motivated or incentivized to specify anything other than which they are used to.

Cost – ROI –
The cost, nuisance, and long payback of the works associated with improving energy efficiency in the home can act as a barrier to take up, which is particularly the case with retro-fit to older properties. 80% of current UK housing stock is considered to be below the energy efficiency standard of current building regulations. Those build regulations are due for review soon and may push standards still higher for new build properties. Improving energy efficiency in occupied homes can be very disruptive – especially if internal or external wall and floor insulation is required.

Most in need are hardest to reach –
The majority of the 4 million homes are spread around disparate regions of the UK, areas not served by regular events. They are costly for manufacturers of solutions to reach with field based teams and most home owners are simply not motivated enough in the “problem” to see definitive solutions for themselves. Even if they were, they’d discover conflicting views, complicated multi-component multi-fuel systems and so many other variables that in turn make them decide to “do nothing”. Each region of the UK has local issues which impact on home energy decision-making including geology and geography, local politics, building vernacular and population density and demography.

Dr Faye Wade in her PhD research paper “Managing professional jurisdiction and domestic energy use”, recognises two particular professions which have a profound effect on the take up of alternative domestic energy solutions – those who influence homeowners – heating engineers, the installers of heating systems; and architects – the specifiers of building and heating design. Each interacts directly with multiple home owners every week, and each is trusted to recommend the best means of heating their clients’ homes.

Installers are unlikely to travel lengthy distances to attend events in major cities, as their time is money. Architects looking for whole-house solutions, rarely have the opportunity to discuss design challenges among peers and engineers or those who influence their designs. Low Carbon Homes brings these (and other) actors together to collaborate and learn together.

LCH logoOur solution –
Low Carbon Homes, staged across the UK, each year, will bring these professions together with other key influencers such as housing associations, local authorities, private landlords and developers – catalysts of change – to meet with companies and peers who have risen to meet this challenge, and who can offer global innovations, with case-studies, that can be delivered locally.

By 2020 twelve events will be staged annually – one in each of the UK’s sub-regions – providing a platform (in-person and on-line) where problems and best practice solutions will be shared- each framed by the local context. The free to attend events are designed to facilitate interaction between key influencers in the local community, best-practitioners and global brands to deliver tangible improvement in home energy efficiency – solving problems, busting myths and encouraging collaboration.

Being part of Low Carbon Homes brings three key benefits:
• Contribute to driving down domestic and global CO2 emissions through collaboration
• Create and develop deep relationships with industry influencers and peers
• Discover proven solutions to existing shared problems

By joining Low Carbon Homes you can play an essential role in helping the UK meet its CO2 emission targets, create healthier more efficient homes across the UK and reduce fuel poverty.

Some context –
It seems incredible to me that in 2018 we’re still living in homes in a very similar way to the way did over 50 years ago. The advent of gas-fired central heating transformed the comfort of most peoples homes, yet here we are pretty much using the same technology today. SMART controls still turn the boiler on and off.an infographic on LCH

Low Carbon Homes is an exciting opportunity to be at the vanguard of something genuinely transformational. Fossil fuels are being written out of most business plans. It’s now a question of how we transition to a low carbon future rather than if.

Somewhat bizarrely I grew up in a cold house without central heating – we used to have ice on the inside of our windows! – and I now own another cold house, a very old one – no ice on the inside but certainly plenty of condensation as a result of mercilessly thin walls, single glazing and it being a listed building. I’d love to make it warmer and I think I know how to – it’s just that the economics don’t stack up. Government policies may make improvements viable in the future, but in the meantime I will ensure that Low Carbon Homes helps those more in need than I.

By 2050 the Government aspires to get all home energy to zero carbon, that involves new homes off the gas grid being built as zero carbon homes with 10 years (“mid-2020’s”). Low Carbon Homes and all its contributors will play a vital role in ensuring that the UK meets these objectives, helping to drive Clean Growth and reducing fuel poverty.

LCH Forum - ExeterWe have three events planned for 2018, six in 2019 increasing to twelve in 2020 – we’ll cover all regions of the UK, touching all Local Authority areas, engaging communities, year-round – each year. Initial events will attract up to 200 regional influencers, 30 presenters and feature up to 20 leading brands.

By the end of 2020 we’ll have engaged with over 4,000 influencers of change across the entire UK. Using the latest technological innovations we’ll assess the impact of each event and share data and insight to ensure that the output and impact (socially, economically and environmentally) of each event improves – year on year.

Get involved –
Join us at our events – as a delegate, speaker, facilitator, manufacturer or case-study host. Join us on-line as a content contributor, blogger or fixer. We’re happy to partner with anyone who shares our vision for low carbon homes. We look forward to learning how.

Wrapping up –
Successful events are a bit like dating. A blind date can go horribly wrong if the introducer fails to understand the character, interests or values of the individuals concerned.

We bring people together who are going to get along because we know that they can each contribute to each other’s success… and they will enjoy do so. Our proven methodologies bring motivated people together to get things done.

Let’s get more things done. Welcome to Low Carbon Homes

Graham Lock
Founder
07917 847552
graham@cogentevents.com

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