How to revive the Green Deal

4th November, 2013

Bill Wright of the Electrical Contractors’ Association on why the Green Deal is a great opportunity for the industry and suggests some ways to save it that may be cheaper than you think.

We all know the Green Deal is having huge trouble getting out of the blocks. Although thousands of Green Deal assessments have been carried out, very few have been converted.

Nine months into the programme, there is very little to show for the ‘national green retrofit’ hype of the past two years, and it seems that government is putting more effort into telling us that this initial failure is really part of a masterplan than actually enticing the public to take part.

Many installers are concerned, and many deeply affected, by the lack of work coming through, with order books near empty since the Green Deal’s ‘marshmallow’ launch in January of this year.

Quick and cheap fixes

So, can the Green Deal be turned around? The upbeat message is ‘yes’, but the government needs to take decisive action – and very soon.

The good news is that some of the solutions don’t require big money.

The administration of Green Deal quotations following an assessment is arduous and expensive.

The cost of getting to the client quotation stage is high for Green Deal providers by the time the cost of the assessment and tending has been taken into account. All this needs to be cut through.

There are also still relatively few providers who can offer a full package of finance and installed work. This needs to be fast-tracked.

More expensive measures

Some measures will invariably involve money.

Loan interest at 7 per cent is – despite political messaging – way too high. Germany runs its green retrofit scheme at interest rates of between 1 and 2 per cent, so why the UK believes 7 per cent is a domestic game-changer is anyone’s guess.

For a sizeable chunk of the domestic market, extending the mortgage for a green retrofit is cheaper, easier and less risky than taking on a Green Deal.

New motivational Green Deal incentives are necessary.

These should include lower stamp duty when a newly purchased house is made energy-efficient, and a lower council tax rating.

These measures have been requested recently by both the UKGBC and the Liberal Democrats, along with a call to revive the legal requirement for green consequential improvements – one of too many missed energy-saving opportunities.

Opportunity not to be missed

With rising energy prices, the underlying financial case for domestic energy-efficiency measures is increasingly sound.

Domestic savings from energy-efficiency can vary due to the usage of the property, but if the UK’s homeowners can see a clear financial benefit from energy-efficiency work, then significant Green Deal take-up is still possible.

The government’s current message is that the Green Deal is a ‘long haul’ measure; but without decisive action to boost uptake, the greenest thing about this particular deal could be the long grass.

If we lose the opportunity of the Green Deal, we risk losing a national domestic green retrofit programme for the next decade.

Customers, and our industry, deserve a Green Deal that works. The industry is ready to deliver and the solutions are out there, right now.

Bill Wright is head of energy solutions at the Electrical Contractors’ Association

Source: Construction News

Industry experts will be discussing Green Deal for Homes and Businesses during a seminar at the Retrofit London conference at the Business Design Centre, London on 06 December. The seminar will revolve around how homeowners, social housing providers and businesses can access money, and what role the retrofit industry play in stimulating investment.

To view the full conference programme or to book tickets for the event, CLICK HERE.

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