EXCLUSIVE: Effective partnerships key to bringing sustainable products to fruition
Manufacturers, installers and retailers must come together effectively to drive consumer up-take of sustainable products and services, says Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire.
At yesterday's launch of new energy efficient product brand, IQE, Cheshire told edie that there must be increasing dialogue amongst those involved in the manufacturing and marketing of sustainable products.
Cheshire said: "The challenge of what's needed to produce sustainable products and, in particular around the management of energy, is you've got no individual single product that can actually do it. So you've got a technical challenge where you may have a state-of-the-art heat pump for example but unless you have the right storage and the right controls the system isn't going to get used to its full potential.
"Increasingly you're going to be judged on the system performance, so again unless you've got an incredibly broad manufacturer you're always going to need to bring together the right partnerships," he added.
Pointing out the fast-paced development and transformation of the technologies behind the products, Cheshire said having the right collaboration of manufacturer, installer and retailer means you have "the total answer" for bringing them to market.
"The other key part is you're going to need to get these products out to the consumer and traditionally what quite a lot of manufacturers have done is dealt with trade brands but what the retailer brings to it is a connection and explanation to the customer plus the marketing insulation which says it all needs to be joined up in an area which can be complicated and will probably evolve".
IQE plans on being a model of how effective partnerships can bring about greater awareness of energy efficiency, with the University of Loughborough and Kingfisher working with manufacturers and developers to establish a strong framework for products that can make an impact in the market.
As many of IQE's developing products are being created to improve energy efficiency in the home, Cheshire spoke of how this new brand alliance could help the Government's flagship energy efficiency scheme, the Green Deal.
"Clearly this has a lot to do with the Green Deal but I think what we're actually going to see is the next generation of the Green Deal, which is an integrated, joining up of all the subsidies for home and renewable energy, like RHI and FiTs.
"What we would like to do is try and encourage the Government to talk about the Green Deal as the totality of offers you can get with all the subsidies in one place, make it easy and blend it with ECO funding.
"We are also urging the Government to get better at the financing element of the scheme because at the moment it's a good APR but not a very good consumer product. But the key thing is the Green Deal needs to become the over-arching energy solution and once people understand that I think we'll see it take off," he added.
Last week, the latest Government statistics showed that twelve completed Green Deal plans were recorded at the end of August, up from one at the end of July.
The slow take-up of the Green Deal has worried those in the building and refurbishment industry and critics have said the 10,000 completed Green Deal plans by the end of 2013, predicted by Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, is looking ulikely.