ACR Journal

Coolair supports women in ACR Coolair.indd 1 02/02/2021 11:32 large scale projects we’re currently working on are really exciting and cutting edge – no one has installed such large ASHPs on tower blocks before – so it is brilliant to see us leading the way. Going green isn’t just about electric cars now – switching to renewable heating makes a real difference as buildings account for such a large proportion of carbon emissions. Significant changes During almost 15 years at Finn Geotherm, I think the market has changed most significantly in the past 12 months. Demand has rocketed as people are keen to take advantage of the RHI scheme before it ends, the Green Homes Grant and now the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. It is so nice to see that consumers now have a much better understanding of heat pumps. Awareness and opinions have really only changed very recently. Before, there was no talk of ground or air source in the media or the funding available to help people switch – it was all about biomass and solar. Now, we’re pushing against much more of an open door. My role has also become more challenging in this time though, as the cost of personnel and equipment rise. Prices are changing week on week and we’re working to long and often changeable lead times caused a shortage of components. Planning projects to budgets and deadlines is incredibly hard as these are constantly changing, due to factors including Brexit, Covid and a surge in demand. Guy [Ransom], our commercial director, told me a few years ago: ‘When you are faced with a beehive of challenges, tackle one bee at a time’. This advice has definitely stood me in good stead for this job! Challenges One of the main challenges both Finn Geotherm and the industry as a whole are facing right now is a shortage of skilled installers. College courses continue to focus on fossil fuelled boilers and so any new recruits at Finn Geotherm may have the basic plumbing or electrical engineering skills but still have to be trained up on the specifics of heat pumps. I look after all the labour planning for our projects and it’s not an easy task to juggle huge projects with limited resources. With the introduction of fixed rate, low level grants for heat pump projects from next year, it’s likely more ‘one man band’ installers will appear in the same way as with solar PV. Installations will increase in number but not necessarily with all the right assessments being made to size the heat pumps to suit the property’s and owner’s requirements. I’m a stickler for standards and it’s vital that these are maintained so the reputation of companies such as ours aren’t tarnished by the unsatisfactory work of others. We’ve worked really hard to get to where we are and I am proud of what Finn Geotherm stands for. Women in ACR When I first started in the industry almost 15 years ago, it was very male dominated. People would talk straight to the company’s male directors and builders always bypassed me, until they realised I actually knew what I was talking about! It took a while to shift some of these perceptions but I have now built great, long-standing relationships with customers and suppliers. I think general attitudes to women in this sector have definitely changed and the industry is more welcoming and inclusive. Before, I’d be perhaps the only female at an ACR awards do but these days, it’s great to see women accounting for 20 – 30 per cent of attendees. I would recommend this industry to anyone. There are so many roles to choose from and women can do any of these. It’s just a case of pursuing what you want to do to suit your interests and skill set. Heat pumps are going to become the norm for UK homes and the sector needs more skilled people to specify and install them. The jobs are there and these are definitely jobs for life! Outside of work When I’m not at Finn Geotherm, I’m massive history geek and I love reading all things related to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. I also have a pet albino African land snail called Slim Shelldy (named after rapper Eminem!). My stepdaughter’s just had a baby too so I’m getting used to being Nanny Le-Le! Having just moved into an 1870s house which needs total refurbishment, heating is one of the many jobs I’ll be getting sorted as part of the renovations. I’ve got the team at Finn Geotherm on standby to install my heat pump… Slim Shelldy, Leanne's albino snail CMYK / .ai CMYK / .ai CMYK / .ai 37 SPONSORED BY COOLAIR

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