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Green Deal is being 'left to fizzle out'

24 May 2013

Frustration and concern is growing in the industry over the government’s lacklustre marketing of the Green Deal.

Two former staunch advocates of the government’s flagship green policy both said they were losing confidence in it as a Committee of MPs also criticised the coalition’s lack of definite goals. The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee said it was “impossible to hold the government to account because of its lack of direction.”

Allan Ronald, sustainability manager for Higgins Construction, said he had been optimistic about the Green Deal, but a combination of high interest rates for Green Deal loans, lack of eligibility of home improvements such as installing double glazing because they didn’t meet the “golden rule” as well as lack of marketing were all making him nervous about the viability of the scheme.

“The government has got to push the Green Deal – there is simply not enough marketing or advertising,” said Ronald. “If you asked someone in the street about the Green Deal I would imagine most wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

“I really was a believer in the scheme – but it now seems to have been left to fizzle out,” he added.

"The government has got to push the Green Deal - there is simply not enough marketing or advertising."

Allan Ronald, Higgins Construction

Ronald said that the big energy companies, which have commitments to pay for home improvements under the Energy Company Obligation, could also do more to market it.

He also said the firm had found that few housing associations seemed to be interested in working with contractors to win ECO funding to improve energy efficiency in their homes.

Meanwhile, Karl Harvey, who runs the Green Deal Adviser Association, also voiced his frustrations at the lack of marketing by DECC and the levels of red tape involved in getting a loan. “It seems to have become far more complicated than originally envisaged,” he said. “People wanting to do the work have to have credit checks done, even though they will pay through their energy bills, but if they sell the house new people coming in who will inherit the loan which goes with the property won't be checked, so it doesn't really make sense.”

However, responding to the Energy & Climate Change Select Committee report the UK Green Building Council said it was keeping an open mind on the progress. UKGBC chief executive Paul King said: “Figures released next month will show just how many Green Deal assessments have led to actual plans, so the jury remains out on uptake. But Treasury should listen to demands for consumer incentives, such as stamp duty banding being linked to energy efficiency, that would give the scheme a tremendous boost both now and in the long term.”

However, despite lack of interest from housing associations, a number of councils have thrown their weight by the scheme, with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds all launching City-wide programmes. The latest to be unveiled is a programme from West Sussex. Building reports that contractors Carillion and Mears and energy firm Centrica are set to slug it out in a three-way battle for the £750m Sussex Green Deal programme.

The three firms are competing for the job, the winning bidder of which will take on a three-year deal, which can be extended for up to 10 years, to retrofit properties under the Sussex Energy Saving Programme.

West Sussex council will finance £75m of work but the rest will be leveraged by the provider through the Green Deal scheme or the Energy Company Obligation, the government’s subsidy scheme for energy efficiency or other financiers. The council anticipates 18,000 households will be upgraded in the initial three years.

The Committee for Energy and Climate Change report recommended that the government set out what carbon savings, employment opportunities and private investment it expected the Green Deal to achieve.

The report recommended the Department of Energy and Climate Change set out projections for uptake of the Green Deal, though it was clear that the committee felt it was not appropriate to have targets for a market-driven scheme.

Comments

This could have been foreseen years ago- and was. People have been able to deal with 'low-hanging fruit' for years- eg loft insulation, with easily calculated short payback periods- and haven't; why not??
The 'Nudge' Unit identified that it's about hassle- having to clear the loft!
How many 'ordinary' folk switch power suppliers/ bank/ insurance? So much for freedom of choice- how about freedom from choice?
What's needed are area-based programmes that people only have to say Yes or No to when its their area.
The big supermarkets seem to believe in the benefits of bulk purchase- have we nothing to learn from other industries?

Brian Wood BA(Hons) Dip Arch FCIOB, 24 May 2013

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