November 2012: The Green Deal, the Government’s flagship policy, which promises to help the UK achieve stringent carbon emission reductions, to improve the energy efficiency of our old housing stock, to cut fuel poverty and to give the construction sector a timely shot in the arm, is a case in point…
The UK has between 6-7 million homes that are of solid wall construction and, although loft insulation will improve their energy efficiency, the only way to seriously make an impact on their energy use is by insulating the walls.
The catch – and there always is a catch – is that external and/or internal wall insulation don’t come cheap. The Government has decided to get around this problem by allocating the bulk of the £3 billion ECO (energy company obligation) fund to making sure the financial resources are available for these ‘hard-to-treat’ properties to be refurbished in this latest round of funded energy efficiency improvements.
This is where it gets interesting…. the lobbying kicks off. First out of the gates are the housing associations, they want to ensure the ECO money is used for social housing as well as the home-owners that the Green Deal is primarily aimed at.
However, unlike CESP and CERT, the Green Deal and ECO are not easily accessible to social landlords. And, whilst there are a few notable leaders, Gentoo, Places for People and London & Quadrant are Green Deal providers and are grasping the opportunity with both hands, many smaller outfits are struggling to work out the best way to engage with the new energy-efficiency-funding landscape.
Next in line are those companies that benefited from the last round of energy company funded programmes – CESP and CERT – these guys enjoyed the bonanza of supplying loft and cavity insulation that was often provided to householders at a discount or free of charge.
Now of course they see that easy business disappearing and are sorely miffed – a recent open letter to Secretary of State Ed Davy moaned about a potential loss of 16,000 jobs – as though that money was in some way a business grant for large (in some cases (multinational) insulation suppliers – not a grant to help the UK achieve its 2050 carbon reduction targets and to tackle fuel poverty…
If you believe climate change is man-made or not, there is no doubt that fuel poverty exists and that energy costs are rising, fuel security is also an issue – and let’s not forget the matter of those carbon reduction targets.
Improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock really does make sense, research shows that as well as all the other points it improves our health and reduces NHS costs. It truly is a win-win.
In our humble opinion, it’s time that the whole of the construction sector engaged with the Green Deal and the newly formulating ECO. Undoubtedly that means forming new partnerships, collaborating across all parts of construction and developing innovative ways of working… do we want to be part of that?