Neil Hargreaves is Managing Director for Knauf Insulation Northern Europe (KINE), which includes the markets across the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and English-speaking countries in Africa.
Neil originally joined KINE in 2006 as Head of Commercial Finance before leaving to become Finance Director (EMEA) for a multi-national manufacturing and contracting business. In 2011, he re-joined KINE as Finance Director and has since played a key role in a number of commercial, financial and strategic projects. He was appointed Managing Director in February 2019.
Prior to joining KINE, Neil trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and gained experience in audit, business consulting and transaction services working with clients across manufacturing, construction and leisure industries.
Neil sits on the board for the Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA).
Knauf Insulation is the UK’s leading manufacturer of glass and rock mineral wool insulation products.
As part of the family owned Knauf Group, Knauf Insulation represents one of the most respected and progressive names in insulation. It offers an unrivalled range of insulation solutions for any application or project to meet the increasing demand for energy efficiency, fire resistance, thermal and acoustic performance in new and existing homes, non-residential buildings and industrial applications.
In the UK, the company operates at three manufacturing plants; Cwmbran, Queensferry and St. Helens.
Neil Hargreaves, Managing Director Knauf Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation.
If Q3 saw a rebound in Mineral Wool demand after the first lockdown, Q4 picked up where we left off. A strong housing market helps: the stamp duty holiday means more people moving, and prolonged periods at home has encouraged renovation. The housing market may cool as the holiday deadline approaches, but we expect demand for Mineral Wool to remain high into 2021.
This year we expect to see a renewed focus on building sustainability, and rightly so, especially with the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference. In the previous BMBI report, I wrote about the big imminent changes to the regulatory landscape around energy efficiency, and we’re now in the final consultation stages for Part L 2020, due to come into force early next year.
This time, I want to talk about another important aspect of sustainability: the environmental impact of construction products. Why? Because we can only create low-carbon buildings if we reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
Merchants have their own role to play in making our industry more sustainable, but when it comes to product choice, what should they do? The longer answer is to take a closer look at manufacturers’ environmental footprints. Look at the materials they use. What proportion are recycled or come from abundant natural resources? Are any oil-based, or do they contain harmful chemicals? And are the products packaged and distributed to minimise waste and road miles?
The short answer is simply to partner with manufacturers who take sustainability seriously. In my view, that means businesses that have made firm commitments to address their environmental impact, with clear targets. Progressive manufacturers will make this information readily available to merchants and their customers through Declaration of Performance documents, for example.
Low-carbon construction is inevitable. In the future, merchants will play a key role in supplying the right products to help their customers create energy efficient buildings with minimal environmental impact.
Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.