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Union Technical
Case study

Union Technical: embracing the growing demand for green heat technology

Green heat installers are experiencing an increasing demand for alternative heating solutions to gas and oil.

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Please note that this page contains information and links most relevant for people living in Scotland.

installer in high visibility jacket works on heat pump

Green heat installers are experiencing an increasing demand for alternative heating solutions to gas and oil. We speak to David Lee, heating manager, and Kirsty Brown, head of business development at Union Technical on the business’s transition to renewable heating technologies.

Background

The Scottish Government is committed to prohibiting the use of polluting heating systems across all homes and business premises by the end of 2045. In its place, it aims to replace these with clean heating solutions. As a result, companies like Union Technical are thriving due to the demand for their green heat installations.

The company has been a key player in the energy efficiency sector for nine years. It initially focussed on solar energy before diversifying into insulation and heating. The company embraces a whole-house approach by offering all the services associated with increasing energy efficiency and the installation of new heating solutions. With three directors and a head office in Glasgow, it has grown to operate throughout Scotland and the north of England.

installer working on heating unit

Growing demand

Having diversified from solar technology to offer measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation they quickly adapted to industry changes. This involved transitioning from single measures to comprehensive whole-house solutions.

Kirsty said:

“The industry has gone through many changes. Most recently it’s gone from predominantly single measures to whole-house retrofit projects. As an installer, to be able to offer the range of measures required in whole-house retrofit projects involves a lot of business change, development and investment.”

Union Technical began installing heat pumps in 2018, emphasising the need to keep up with industry trends. The transition was also encouraged by the reduction of funding for oil and gas installations and new funding streams becoming available for renewable heating technologies.

The company has experienced an increase in heat pump requests due to projects through ECO4 and other streams of work, including public contracts and tendered projects. Responding to increased customer demand for whole-house solutions, the business was able to expand by taking on more staff and increasing office space.

Kirsty said:

“We’ve increased staff by 10% in the last two to three months, with a much larger recruitment drive planned for 2024. We’re growing so quickly due to the volume of work generated by offering the whole-house approach. Each home is a project.”

installer looking in the back of tool van

Qualifications and training

Many of the team at Union Technical had transferable skills prior to installing green heat technologies. These engineers gained their qualifications in heat pump technologies from colleges, manufacturers, and private training centres.

Challenges such as little available funding in Scotland for upskilling and the absence of industry education in schools contribute to a shortage of skilled professionals. The company emphasises the need for widespread awareness of the great career opportunities in the sector and appropriate skills funding.

Kirsty said:

“This is an industry that will keep growing due to the volume of work that needs to be done to reach net zero goals. Improving the energy efficiency of people’s homes in turn reduces their heating bills as well as carbon emissions.”

installer works on a heat pump

Results

The company believes in the long-term benefits of offering a whole-house approach to installations. It also acknowledges the necessity of transitioning to green energy and the pivotal role heat pumps play.

Union Technical identifies the need for a diverse range of skilled tradesmen, decreasing customer knowledge gaps, and cost-effective installations. Recommendations for attracting people to the industry include emphasising the financial benefits, learning opportunities, and the industry’s longevity.

David explained:

“There’s so much longevity in this industry, especially with the cost-of-living crisis and the move to green technology. People are looking to save money on their bills.”

Union Technical is a leading force in transitioning to green energy, offering valuable insights into the complexities of the energy efficiency sector. The company’s journey from focusing on solar solutions to embracing a whole-house approach highlights the dynamic industry landscape. This shift emphasises the need for ongoing adaptation, education, and stable government policies to support sustainable growth in the renewables and energy efficiency sector.

Kirsty said:

“I think we need good education for consumers to build their confidence.”

As Union Technical navigates this changing landscape, it doesn’t only tackle current challenges. It also plays a role in shaping a future where sustainable practices are central to energy use and environmental responsibility.

Want to transition to installing green heat energy sources?

If you’re considering transitioning to installing green heat energy sources, browse through our resources on our support for green heat installers page and visit our heat pump and insulation toolkits. You can also contact our team at greeninstallerscotland@est.org.uk.

Last updated: 16 February 2024