This is a guest post by Mark Wilson. I’d be interested in your views – Su
Take a step back for a moment and have a look at the Green Deal. Its every fibre is laudable, and intentions totally honourable. We, that is absolutely everyone (there are no exceptions) must reduce the amount of energy we consume. For ‘energy’ read ‘electricity’ in general and ‘heat’. Of course there are other sustainability issues that are of equal importance, but not within the sights of the Green Deal: That of our critical dependency on resources such as ‘water’ and ‘raw materials’. If we are not careful that situation will turn into a ‘Deal or no deal’ scenario, with a far less leisurely approach.
On face value the Green Deal is here for the long term. The current minister responsible for the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, says he is looking to a market that will run through to 2030. That may be the master plan, but of course it will be the activity within that market that will be proof of that particular aspiration.
The Golden Rule
The Green Deal seeks to provide energy saving measures to the consumer at no additional cost to what they currently pay for their heat and light. The government are offering a cast iron *binocular guarantee in the guise of the ‘Golden Rule’. This states that the costs of the improvement should not be more than the expected savings resulting from them, and those savings should be calculated over a period not exceeding the expected lifetime of the installation.
*Binocular guarantee – a guarantee that once out of sight is to all intents and purposes out of guarantee
Of course with flimsy guarantees come flimsy descriptions. The word ‘expected’ is paper thin, but has been given a corrugated fold in an attempt to carry the huge load put upon it by the DECC. If that paper should get wet, or even damp, even the sharpest corrugations are going to fail.
For the sake of our futures we should be trying to pick out the positives. The main one being the unswerving goal to relieve our reliance on traditional and failing energy supplies. But it’s easy to pick holes, and the government has not made it difficult. Consumer take-up of the Green Deal is reliant, at base level, on promises and expectations, which could read that “we promise to reduce the amount of energy you use, and we expect that it won’t cost you any more as a result”. The message is short of the words “but it could”.
To their credit the DECC have constructed a framework upon which the Green Deal hangs, expecting an army of Green Deal providers such as energy providers, manufacturers, retailers and industry professionals will do the rest. They expect that the Green Deal will create it’s own microcosm of an industry, generating growth in manufacturing and installation of associated products and work for energy savvy professionals in the administration of it all. But if it all comes back to the ‘Golden Rule’, is that, on its own, enough?
There have already been calls by the CIOB, UK-GBC and Carbon Trust for ‘headline’ incentives that might see a reduction in VAT associated with Green Deal installation, and a cut in stamp duty for the purchase of homes that have had a significant amount of work completed under the scheme. But the DECC has thus far cocked a deaf ‘un.
To be fair, it would seem a fruitless exercise on the government’s part to start off giving away more than they need to. Good common business sense really. This is a groundbreaking scheme after all; so one can understand the gas being set to low with a view to timing the boil. If we need further incentives, we can shout a little louder then.
One cannot help thinking that there will be two consumer mentalities in operation. The first being the wholly predictable “What’s in it for me”, the second, the scepticism that has been engendered by a half arsed construction industry, whose reputation for a dubious job has become insidious.
The DECC to their credit insist that Green Deal installers comply with very clear quality control standards identified in the recently published PAS 2030 (Publicly Available Standard). So arguably, with accreditation under this banner being an appreciable cost, the back street contractor will not be interested. That implies that all the larger big players are angels. I don’t think so.
The Green Deal is scheduled for launch 1 October 2012, and private companies are already canvassing consumers with invitations to register interest. However, consumer awareness is the only driver here, and whilst the Green Deal is hardly a secret, detailed publicity is notable by its absence to all but the building tech savvy.
Those able to throw off their apathy blankets will be able to discover what’s on offer from the DECC here, and you can also download details of What measures does the Green Deal cover?for both ‘domestic’ and ‘non domestic’ properties, under the page section ‘Green Deal: Commons Committee Stage Documents.
The prime targets of the initiative are families perceived to be in ‘Fuel Poverty’ – not being able to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost. I took a straw poll recently amongst friends and family. Whilst the words ‘Green’ and ‘Deal’ were familiar, they could not display any subject knowledge beyond the title.
The industry knows about the Green Deal, but arrows directed at the targeted consumer have only managed a flesh wound thus far, and are failing to get to the heart of the matter, as they continue to ask what will the Green Deal do for us?
Mark Wilson is a Chartered Architectural Technologist and sole practitioner in architectural and building design solutions. He blogs weekly through his own web site BuildingDesignExpert.com, with a passion for Architectural Technology and innovation within the construction industry and its future. He is currently presenting on ‘Specifying for a Sustainable Future’ at ecoShowcase events around the UK. You can contact him via the links on his web site for Linked In and Facebook, or follow him on Twitter @BD_Expert
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Storified by Su Butcher · Tue, Jul 24 2012 03:17:18