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Norman Smith

I’m sorry I missed the workshop; thanks Sally for your feedback and Scott for comments. I prepared the following to talk to at the gathering; belatedly it may assist “going forward”

We are working on initiatives which have the objective of increasing the uptake of best energy and sustainability solutions for NZ households. The Hub can be a very important source of information in the challenging task of helping transform homes and improve lives. In that I see it joined at the hip with the other current  CEN-lead proposal — training and accreditation of Home Performance Advisers.

Together they are a most important initiative. This is not because they are the major source of advice available but rather for the opposite reason – they will only ever make up at most about one percent of the total information provided about home energy use and resource efficiency.

Yes, one percent, but note I said ‘information provided about’ not independent information about….
Information about home energy use is principally provided by the marketing and communications arms of the building products industry and its sub-set the energy products providers. Combined these have a budget of many tens of millions of dollars. Compared to these resources we are but small barnacles on the keel of the SS Free Enterprise.

I see the role of the Hub as an effective means of enabling a small number of independent advisers to work together; to keep up to speed with new products and services as they are launched onto the market. It can be the counterpoint to the highly selected information beamed into NZ homes; ours is the role of providing perspective and context in the face of hype, selective half truths and sometimes downright lies.

Here’s an example – As a homeowner I am considering a more efficient hot water system. I need a household and house-specific solution which is both supplier independent and technology agnostic. By the latter I mean, for example, advice without bias any one over the others –  solar panel compared with heat pump compared with photovoltaics. Who is going to guide me through this labyrinth and who is going to help home energy advisers fill that role if not each other?

The collaborative approach  we have been trialling over the last few months may not always result in consensus but at least individual advisors will have access a substantial body of perspectives and experiences from people who they trust rather than operating in isolation

Even with the involvement of fellow travellers such as Beacon, BRANZ, Eco-Design Advisers, EECA, Consumer and others, it’s always going to be an unequal engagement but The Hub can help to off-set that.

While I haven’t done a breakdown it is my observation that only a modest number of enquiries and feedback/comments have come from CEN members.  I find this unsurprising, in these challenging times the priority of CEN members and the main call on their time is to keep their retrofit businesses in business – and we know it’s not going to get any easier in the next 12 months.