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LEEDing the way to NeoCon East 2012

Posted: October 17, 2012 by , Category:events, LEED

This week I’ve headed stateside for NeoCon East 2012 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Kicking off today and taking place over two days, NeoCon is the premier design exposition and conference for commercial interiors on the East Coast. I’ve been invited to the conference to take part in a seminar (taking place on Thursday 1-2pm) with the USGBC to demonstrate the benefits of LEED Automation and how LEED Automation Partner software can streamline the LEED workflow.

At IES we’ve been designing & selling LEED Automation tools for almost 4 years. Our tools are specifically targeted to be used by architects and engineers throughout the entire building design process and are used to aide integrated design. It’s an approach that sits well with the LEED methodology. For the NeoCon seminar I will be presenting our three software tools that specifically help LEED accredited professionals: IES VE-Navigator for LEED, IES VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1 and IES TaP for LEED (launching next month at Greenbuild). These tools provide three levels of benefits to the LEED professional:

– Credit assessments straight from your BIM model (no need to recreate geometry or data)
– Credit interpretation — the software interprets the results of the analysis and crucially the LEED methodology and provides output tailored for submission to LEED Online
– LEED Design Team management — streamlining time spent chasing and organizing your design teams responsibilities and submission material

The first tool IES is offering as a LEED Automation Partner is the IES VE-Navigator for LEED. This tool, targeted at both architects and engineers, at any stage in the design process enables the assessment of a number of common sustainable analysis topics — Daylighting, Thermal comfort, Water, Renewables and Sustainable Sites — and crucially interprets the results output from the analysis tool, and creating reportage suitable for use within LEED letter templates. The tool can be used for the following versions of LEED: LEED NC V2.2/V3, LEED SchoolsV1/V3 and LEED Core and Shell V2/V3 and can be used for Daylighting, Comfort, Water, Renewables and soon Sustainable Sites credits.

The second software tool that aligns with the LEED Automation partner program is the IES VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1. This tool is an EPACT Approved (since 2009) LEED Energy modelling tool for Ea Credit 1. The functionality and approach of the ASHRAE 90.1 Navigator follows the same concept as the LEED Navigator, in that it simplifies and streamlines the use of analysis tools to create efficient ways of assessing the energy credit.

You may be already familiar with the tools above but the final part of my presentation will be taking a look at a new one; IES Tap for LEED. Following on from a successful BREEAM version of this tool, IES TaP for LEED is a Project Management tool. IES TaP allows you to streamline and keep control of the project team and the material required for a LEED submission. It allows you to access and track your LEED projects and evidence documents in one secure online location, increasing the efficiency across the project team and cutting down on time spent chasing people up! The benefits of this tool are numerous and include two way communication between IES TaP & LEED Online, IES TaP directly populates rating system documentation requirements from USGBC online credit library (so the IES TaP system is always up to date), Score Card Functionality to easily calculate your certification goal and current credit rating, and automatic email notifications to keep the team updated.

So that’s where we are as LEED Automation partners. A lot has been done to assist you with your LEED projects, with more in the pipeline. I look forward to seeing some of you in Baltimore tomorrow at 1:00-2:00pm, for what should be an interesting insight into LEED Automation.

Remember to stay tuned for the launch of IES TaP for LEED at GreenBuild.

UK Regulations: DCLG Charges Update

Posted: August 21, 2012 by , Category:software, Sustainability

We’d like to check in for a quick update for all those who have been following our campaign against the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) plans to withdraw their free non-domestic software validation service for UK building regulations. Click here for our previous blogs if you want to get up to date.

After months of trying on our behalf, our local MP, Ann McKechin, managed to arrange a meeting for IES Director David McEwan with Andrew Stunell MP, minister for DCLG on 16th July.

At the meeting, which was our first face to face contact with DCLG in almost 6 months, David was able to explain our position regarding the proposed unfair UK software validation charges directly to the government minister. Mr Stunell understood IES’s concerns and encouraged IES to provide as many comments as we could in response the recent consultation which was due on 1st August.

Unfortunately, as there was very little detail provided by DCLG we were unable to fully support any of the proposals offered. However we do hope that our contribution as a leading software provider in the UK Construction industry will help to encourage more dialogue towards a satisfactory resolution.

Many thanks are due to Ann for her efforts to make contact with DCLG as no meeting would have been possible without her assistance.

As always, please leave any feedback you have on the matter as a comment below or email us at DCLGcharges@iesve.com and we will be sure to include it with any dialogue we have with DCLG in the future.

I’ve just returned from a week-long trip to Glasgow, in bonnie Scotland – where it rained for an estimated 92% of the time! I’m happy to report that these damp days did not spoil my trip as I was in the city to finalise the deal that sees BVM Engineering become a new division of IES.

BVM Engineering, of whom I am the founder of, will now become the first base for IES in the southern states. We’re an experienced group of engineers and LEED APs that have accumulated many years of experience working on projects across the globe. Our skillset is one that will complement IES, and as highly experienced LEED consultants and LEED reviewers, we’d like to bring this practical experience to bear enhancing the current LEED capabilities of the <Virtual Environment> software.

Our expertise will also reinforce the work IES consultants currently undertake on behalf of their <Virtual Environment> software customers; supporting delivery of their client’s projects through a combined offering of consulting services, software support and training.

So what attracted us to join forces with IES? Well I have known IES CEO Don MacLean for over eight years now, and during that time our relationship has grown due to a shared

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passion for sustainable building design and a common vision for the essential role performance analysis plays in the process. I’ve also had eight years to get accustomed to the Scottish accent too… the food, however, is another story…

As you know, my sustainability practice has been rooted in building energy analysis (“modelling”) and I have been teaching for years that the way we analyse buildings, as a separate entity from the designer, has to change if we are to truly impact the sustainability of the built environment. The suite of analysis tools IES has and is developing, is intended to facilitate detail-appropriate analysis at all stages of design by the true ‘designers’ of the building. Hence, our move to join forces with IES!

As long term users of IES software we know a lot about the company and their culture, and it is one that we are all very excited about being part of. My new colleagues at the Glasgow HQ couldn’t have made me feel more welcome, and getting a chance to sit down with people across the company really opened my eyes at the exciting times ahead for IES in North America.

Well now that the boxes have been ticked and the deal has been done, it is time for the real work to begin. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress…

Last month, to mark our return to the AIA Convention, we launched a competition to explore the architect’s role in building energy analysis. We put the following question to architects, engineers and sustainability consultants around the world — What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

We received many interesting and thought provoking answers that had our judges deadlocked in deciding who would come away with the fantastic prize of a one year license for VE-Gaia, the VE-Navigator for LEED, as well as associated IESVE modules and training.

Our expert panel were pushed to pick a winning entry and we are delighted to announce that the winner is Susan Welker of Harris Welker Architects. Susan’s entry impressed us because it really got to the heart of what the architect must strive for when aspiring to create the most energy efficient building possible. Here is Susan’s winning entry…

As Architects of not just the built environment, but the planet, our role in energy analysis is threefold. We are the thought leaders in the early stages of design and set the form for the building’s needs for light, water, energy and natural resources. Architects analyze their initial energy analysis with engineering consultants to revise and maximize the buildings minimum energy usage. Finally and most importantly, Architects follow through with observations and field testing to achieve the minimum energy usage during the construction phase.

We also had other entries that are too good not to give an honourable mention to…

Ryan Arnold of MSI Engineers made an interesting point about the collaborative nature of energy analysis – Energy analysis has developed into a truly collaborative process, a process that’s success relies on it not being the claim of one profession, but as a shared responsibility to the whole project team. Thus, the role of an architect in energy analysis is the same as all involved parties- to constantly facilitate the collaboration and creativity needed to solve the complex energy issues we all face, together.

Kirsten Wood of Technical Commissioning Services excellently articulated what energy analysis should mean to the architect and humanity – Architects combine functionality with aesthetics to produce structures that are pleasing to the human senses and useful. Today, that usefulness is also defined by how structures consume energy. A structure that is wasteful will not serve humanity well. Therefore, the role of architects in energy analysis is to reflect deeply on the aspects of energy efficiency and incorporate those into the design.

We’d like to thank all of you who took the time to participate in our contest. Your answers provided a real insight in how the architect’s role in energy analysis is changing, and how our software is helping facilitate this change for the better.

And once again, a big congrats to our winner Susan!

IES TaP Logo2012 has been a very busy and eventful year — we’ve joined forces with IES, launched IES TaP at Ecobuild and continued on our mission to provide the most efficient environmental assessment tracking tool on the market.

So what exactly is TaP? IES TaP is an intelligent online project tracking solution that allows you to access and track all of your BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) projects and evidence documents in one secure online location, without having to rely on email or fax to manage the process.

This tool is the brainchild of Track a Project Ltd. The idea came from the desire to streamline the way in which the Assessor gathered evidence from the Design Team, a notoriously difficult and time consuming process! The concept popped into the head of one of our BREEAM Assessors during a typically long winded Pre-Assessment meeting. The usual array of architects, engineers, M & E consultants, contractors and Project Managers were assembled around the table.

Running through the laborious process of pen and paper, scribbling down which member of the team was responsible for which piece of evidence, trying to explain what was needed, knowing full well that once back in the office, it would all have to be typed up into an excel spreadsheet and emailed to everyone and would be out of date the minute you hit send!

That was the driving force behind the need for something new, something better. Track a Project was born and the rest, as they say is history!

A team of BREEAM and CSH Assessors set off developing the idea. Talented software programmers, with a background of working on some of the leading information portals on the market, were drafted in and the ideas of the team were quickly made reality.

Once operational, the tool was tested by our in house Assessors for over 12 months. The flaws were ironed out, features added and improvements made. Within weeks of the portal going live, positive feedback from our clients and design teams was pouring in. The impact was enormous. The time the tool was saving was phenomenal. The word was beginning to spread and we knew we had something special on our hands, something capable of revolutionising the Environmental Assessment process.

At that point, we realised this was too good to keep to ourselves, we knew we had to release it to everyone! Track a Project was officially released in October 2010.

With a growing customer base, initial take up of the system was good, however if the product was to explode, we needed more muscle and who better to join forces with than world leading environmental experts, IES Ltd.

Many nights of burning the midnight oil followed, Track a Project was streamlined even further and eventually, after months of collaboration, the new IES TaP portal was launched.

It was fantastic to finally present IES TaP to the industry, and there was no better place to do so, then at the Ecobuild conference at Excel London, in March. It was a manic few days that brought a conveyor belt of people to the IES Booth. We had the opportunity to demo IES TaP throughout the event and we spoke to a lot of interested assessors that wanted to know more about the tool.

So what can this tool do for BREEAM and CSH assessors?

Save time? Check.
Save money? Check.
Make assessments easier? Check.

As far as ticking boxes goes, we’d say IES TaP is pretty much on top of its game. But don’t take our word for it…

“Assessing BREEAM credits can be such a complicated process and this makes it so much easier to be organised. It keeps everyone in the team on the right track and ensures that we never miss our deadlines. It’s a feature that I’ve never seen before in any other tool making it by far

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the number one choice for me.” Andrew Matthews, Director of Vale Interiors Ltd.

“TaP has been an amazing assistant throughout our Code experience! It cuts the paperwork, the hassle and the timescale of passing on the relevant information to your code assessor! Fenwood Estates would recommend TaP to any company trying to achieve CSH whether it be a single plot to a multi-unit development!” Melissa Fennell, Development Director, Fenwood Estates.

So it’s onwards and upwards for IES TaP and this exciting new collaboration. We want to continue to provide the best project tracking tool to our customers in the UK, while also making plans to automate and streamline the process for building rating systems around the

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If you have been keeping up to date with our latest news stories you’ll know that we recently had a visit from the renowned Danish expert Jorgen Erik Christensen and two of his Masters students.

On Wednesday 25th April Jorgen, Espen and Peder appeared bright and early at our Glasgow Headquarters where they spent the day with our Director Craig Wheatley and Project Leader, Special Projects, Michael Pollock. Their intentions were to discover the UK analysis model and understand the process concerning simulation in particular of new, more complicated buildings and from this determine lessons learned to take back to Denmark.

Writing their master project on the future use of energy simulation programs in Denmark, the students saw this visit as a great opportunity to understand first-hand how the IES Virtual Environment (IES VE) software is used within a UK commercial building design process, and how the elements related to UK energy conservation regulations (Part L & EPCs) are incorporated.

Michael Pollock, our expert in this area was only too happy to share his expertise with our Danish friends. Talking them through the UK regulations and showing them how we set up advanced software solutions to meet UK compliance, the students were able to discover the challenges and begin to understand how this process could be adapted for Denmark.

With our new IESVE 2012 due to be released shortly, Michael and Craig were able to give the trio a sneak peek into some of the new features that would benefit them substantially with projects they were working on. Michael observed “Our visitors were wowed with the advanced capabilities of the Virtual Environment, it really seemed to go above and beyond what they had expected”.

Like all good students Espen and Peder had done their homework and had read many of the papers and presentations written by our experts. They were particularly interested in the IBPSA paper based on the Venture Building which is situated in the same campus as our headquarters and were keen to pay it a visit.

In feedback from Jorgen, Espen and Peder they said…

“Based on our meeting with IES we feel confident that the ever increasing demand for energy savings in buildings can be met through intelligent design and analysis of same. This is where IES<VE> comes into the picture; by integrating most of the design phases and Compliance certification into a single simulation tool, the workflow of the project is made more efficient, while at the same time giving detailed energy consumption estimations in order to further optimize the building design. This impression was confirmed by meetings with Buro Happold, Hulley & Kirkwood and Wallace Whittle.”

Craig rounds up the success of the visit…

“We were absolutely delighted to welcome Jorgen and his students from DTU to the UK.  IES have a strong user base in Demark, thanks in part to DTU’s adoption of the Virtual Environment in their teaching. It was a pleasure to share the experience of IES and our customers in the use of our VE Compliance software for the EPBD driven UK Part L & Section 6 building regulations and energy performance certification.”

IES at eSim 2012

Posted: May 10, 2012 by , Category:events

This time last week I pitched up at the eSim coference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. eSim is IBPSA-Canada’s biennial conference that brings together professionals, academics and students interested in building performance simulation advancements and applications. I was particularly looking forward to attending eSim because

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not only is it held in a beautiful part of the world, but we also had the pleasure of presenting at and sponsoring this year’s event.

I was kept pretty darn busy over the course of the three days; hosting a pre show training workshop, manning the IES Booth and conducting an IES-VE demo. Happy to report that the workshop and demo were both well attended and I got a lot of positive feedback from current customers and those new to the Virtual Environment. I’d like to thank everyone that took the time to come along to the workshop, demo or booth, and I hope you came away with some useful information (and a free trial).

Getting the chance to talk to the industry face to face is what drives me to attend these types of events. It makes the plain, trains and automobiles all worthwhile when you get the opportunity of show people the power of our software.

The IES-VE is currently approved energy simulation software for LEED Canada to demonstrate compliance for EAp2 & EAc1. The VE offers detailed, comprehensive, and integrated dynamic simulation of solar shading, daylighting, bulk airflow (natural ventilation), thermal loads, HVAC systems, controls, and building energy performance.

With the VE-Pro applications, users can take a project from climate analysis and schematic 3D modeling through to advanced daylighting analysis, detailed thermal-comfort (CFD) and loads analysis for critical spaces, and finally to whole-building energy modeling and reporting for the LEED/ASHRAE-90.1 Performance Rating Method. Our energy simulation software is also on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) list of approved software.

We have also been confirmed as approved energy modelling software (whole building or specific system) with Efficiency Nova Scotia. Efficiency Nova Scotia offers financial incentives worth up to $500,000 for new construction projects 10,000ft2 or larger, for those working in Nova Scotia. Find out more here.

All in all, it’s an exciting time for IES in this region, and I look forward to meeting more of you at events like eSim in the future.

On Monday we reported that we were encouraged by the progress made at the meeting held on Friday 24th February. We were waiting for DCLG to put out an official announcement on Wednesday about interim arrangements. This came, but unhappily we have to report that its content was not as expected.

In the meeting it was our understanding that the DCLG would spend the next 6 months consulting with the industry to agree a better way forward and that during this interim period the pre-existing validation arrangements would continue and there would be no validation charges. However, yesterday we received correspondence from the DCLG stating that they will suspend all new validation submissions with immediate effect for a short period, and that they will work to have a revised fee structure in place no later than 1st of April.

No validation service until 1st April is a very different stance to the status quo for 6 months and has a number of impacts. Not least being that IES and other software providers have new versions of software being prepared for release before this date! Now, while the UK compliance modules within our software are not being updated there are updates to the rest of the suite which necessitates a change in version number that would normally require us to apply for re-approval. Crazy we know!! We have asked for clarification, but are unclear at this stage whether this will affect our customers’ ability to lodge EPCs etc.

The other update on the consultation side is that Ann McKechin, our MP, asked a question in parliament for us: “whether (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department held discussions with stakeholders and business organisations prior to the introduction of the Non-domestic Self-funding Software Validation Service?” In the response it was inferred that the matter was discussed with the industry before the announcement, however we know ourselves and other software providers were not consulted and we feel the answer is therefore misleading to parliament. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2012-02-27a.96569.h&s=andrew+stunell

So where now from here? Well first a huge thank you to you all for your support; from the contact we’ve had direct, to the comments on our blogs and the discussions taking place on twitter. The main theme seems to be the closest to our heart as well — how this could lead to market distortion and impact on the UK energy conservation building regulations.

As we hope you all already know the software in question is used by all firms that undertake Part L compliance and EPC/DEC creation— you need to use this whether it is the free Government iSBEM, commercial interfaces to SBEM or level 5 dynamic simulation (DSM) software. It is an essential part for any firm doing this work — they cannot do without it.

As such it is the foundation of the Government’s building regulations related to energy reduction and carbon mitigation — if the software system set up fails the regulations start to fall apart. We’ve been really encouraged by the industry support for commercial software in this arena and how it has a very real place to play in our energy regulations — especially the dynamic simulation tools only available from commercial providers.

We have been told by DCLG that because it was not a regulation change a formal impact assessment or consultation procedure was not needed — this seems like semantics to us, as with this software being at the heart of energy conservation regulations why not assess the impact prior to implementation?

Also in response to our correspondence with Andrew Stunell, the reason given as to why DCLG have developed a self-funding mechanism is: “…in order to ensure that commercial organisations are still able to make their software available in the market.” We would argue that the software provided by commercial organisations is currently essential to the market— commercial tools offer the only solution for level 5 categorised buildings; they offer the only solutions that can also be used as design tools to really drive optimisation on the energy front; and they offer the only solutions which fit into firms design workflows efficiently.

Further to this, the free government software is frequently used as a design tool (when it states it should not be) which is creating a low impact, mass market that erodes at those firms actually making a difference and offering a considered means of achieving genuine Low Carbon buildings.

We feel that the DCLG has a responsibility to make sure that the right tools are available to the industry both for use with EPCs and Part L. Commercial providers really do deliver tools which are essential for the Government in meeting its carbon reduction targets. We also believe that there is a better way forward and hope we will have the chance to explore the options with DCLG further.

We’re currently in communication with a large industry group providing a joint response to this issue. In the meantime, we’d like you to add your individual voice:

Do you think Andrew Stunell’s response answers the question — vote online here.

Write to DCLG to register your opposition and ask them a simple question:
“What is the legal basis is for the introduction of the non-domestic validation charges?”
Email Peter Matthews {Peter.Matthew@communities.gsi.gov.uk} and DCLG minister Andrew Stunell {enquiries@andrewstunell.org.uk}.

DCLG Charges Update – Add Your Voice

Posted: February 23, 2012 by , Category:software, Sustainability

Firstly, we would like to thank you for your response to our original blog in our campaign against the DCLG’s proposed software validation charges — “Don’t let DCLG charges damage our industry

Since then there has been significant development that we would like to bring you up to date on. On Friday 18th February, IES met with DCLG and a number of our industry peers to discuss EPBD, Green Deal and validation charges. This meeting exposed some serious inaccuracies in the charges put forward by Landmark, the company who will be responsible for software validation on behalf of the DCLG. BRE have pointed out that the figures actually tendered by them were much lower than the industry is being charged.

It also brought to light further proof that this tax would clearly lead to an unlevel playing field in our industry. The impression at the meeting was that the costs being imposed on software providers were in part contributing to the costs of developing iSBEM and other Government free tools. We think this should be investigated to see where the money from the proposed charges is going to be spent.
A summary of the main issues that arose from the meeting are:

– It is unfair that charges are being levied on the industry when the high scale cannot be justified on the basis of the work involved. By involving a middle man (i.e. Landmark) DCLG is creating unnecessary costs and time delays that could be avoided. On DCLG’s website the amount spent on External Consultants was £13.4M in 2010/11 out of a total staff bill of £95M. http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/foi/disclosure-log/disclosurelog2011/may2011/externalconsultants/

– DCLG is holding a monopoly position with free tools such as iSBEM competing in a commercial market. Free commercial software is already available and the competition from publically funded software is distorting the market

– We are fearful that we could end up with duplicate charges for software linked to the Green Deal and the likely heavy impact of these charges on smaller organisations, some of which might not be able to bear all the additional costs.

– At the moment the frequency of validation is still unclear as there has been no consultation process or impact analysis involving the industry. For instance DCLG persist in stating that ‘there is no need’ for revalidation of existing software this year, but this doesn’t answer the question about validation triggered by updates BRE or by the software providers themselves who are all continually improving their products.

Our objective remains the same — we want the DCLG to withdraw their proposed cost structure for these charges and work with the industry to agree a more reasonable way forward. Adding your voice to the cause remains an essential part of making this happen. What are your views on the charges and how do you feel you could be affected by them? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us at DCLGcharges@iesve.com. All the feedback provided will be brought forward to our next meeting with the DCLG on Friday, 24th February.

We will keep you posted on any progress made!

As you may or may not know, in the past the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have provided a non-domestic software validation service for UK building regulations. They issued a statement on 13th January 2012 proposing to withdraw this service and instead make it a so-called “self-funding” operation where they will charge software suppliers a fee each time their software requires validation. These proposed fees include an Initial validation fee of up to £16,000 and then a re-validation fee of up to £10,000 thereafter.

We believe that these proposed charges are unreasonable and potentially unlawful. They will not only have a serious negative impact on the UK construction industry but the entire UK economy and the Governments Carbon Reduction objectives will suffer as well.

Some of the most concerning issues are:
– The charges will discourage new entrants to the market, and will cause existing software vendors to withdraw products due to cost of development and validation.
– There will be fewer products, less competition, poorer quality software, and a climate in which vendors take a very conservative attitude to innovation.
– Charges cannot be justified in terms of the work involved in the validation exercise.
– It is unreasonable to impose a blanket fee for re-validation since the size of this task varies enormously depending on what needs to be done. In our experience this had ranged from a check on a table of numbers to a full examination of every aspect of the analysis.
– The number of job losses will increase because companies will no longer be able to provide free or low cost products due to the cost of validation which will impact on many of the smaller service based businesses that rely on this software to be competitive in the mass market.
– There will be no charges for iSBEM and ORCalc software which are both provided by the government. Why should the government be spending taxpayers’ money to compete in an established commercial market with a number of established vendors whilst at the same time imposing punitive, excessive, unjustified and arbitrary charges only on competing commercial products?
– The proposals are not practically workable and will fundamentally damage an industry which plays a vital role in tackling the UK’s carbon reduction objectives.
– IES have been a strong supporter of the Governments low energy drive and invested heavily in making Part L effective. We also provide free tools (SBEM interface and DEC software) and free support for these tools to the industry. There are thousands of small companies that rely on these tools that become untenable if we have to pay the proposed charges.

These are just a selection of the reasons why the DCLG must reconsider their statement. A full list can be found in this news item on our website.

We would like to appeal for your support and assistance on this matter. If you agree with any of the points above please take a moment to email Peter Matthews {Peter.Matthew@communities.gsi.gov.uk} and DCLG minister Andrew Stunnel {enquiries@andrewstunell.org.uk} to register your opposition to these charges. Failure to do so could lead to long lasting damage to our industry and will make the UK’s carbon reduction objectives far more difficult to achieve. We reasonably request that the DCLG’s current statement on software validation is withdrawn pending discussions and agreement on a more practical way forward.

Thank you for your time.

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