Deal with it

Deal with it

When Green Deal launched in January 2013, bold claims were made about how effective it was going to be at improving the energy efficient of the UK’s housing stock. Now that the dust has settled on its first year, we ask the industry for its views on the real impact of Green Deal.
At the start of Green Deal, Greg Barker – Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change – revealed that he expected 10,000 live installs by the end of December 2013. The results didn’t quite match his – and DECC’s – dreams. But perhaps the biggest disappointment for the heating industry was the lack of involvement from small installer businesses and sole traders.
The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) recently made the stark comparison with the successful 2010 Boiler Scrappage scheme that was used by an estimated 50,000 small firms and saw 120,000 boilers replaced in three months. The Green Deal has so far failed to capture much interest with only 1,500 firms supporting the scheme.
Installer spoke to leading experts in the industry to gauge their impressions of the scheme – and – most importantly – what they felt the next steps need to be to make it as successful as was originally planned.
Roger Webb, HHIC Director:
“The industry wanted Green Deal to be a great success but the reality is, it has failed. We believe that the lack of engagement with the small installer firms and their 135,000 workforce is a major factor for this, and we are strongly urging DECC to re-examine the delivery model for Green Deal. We also need a less onerous quality scheme that takes into account the competences and certifications required of heating installers.
“The numbers don’t lie. A few hundred live Green Deals when 10,000 were promised; just 2% of firms have so far installed Green Deal heating measures, and only 8,500 boilers have been fitted using Green Deal finance or cashback schemes.”
Paul Joyner, Director of Sustainable Building Solutions:
“The Green Deal is criticised by commentators for the time taken for consumers to sign up and the small numbers of Green Deals finalised. However, demand for assessments has been high, with over 100,000 completed so far, and research from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows that 80% of those will result in energy efficiency measures installed. The energy saving scheme has the potential to be an industry changing initiative.
“A major benefit of the Green Deal is the accreditation and regulatory environment it brings, helping to build consumer confidence. I am confident that once the finance is in place and easily accessible, the scheme will begin to realise its true potential.”
Ian Kenny, Marketing Director at Graham:
“Having launched just over a year ago, the Government’s flagship Green Deal scheme hasn’t exactly been met with the warm reception that was once anticipated. That said, it has helped to keep the issue of energy efficiency front of mind.
“Looking back at 2013 figures, we certainly noticed a significant increase in boiler sales and associated technologies and a renewed interest in solar thermal and heat pumps – this could in part be due to the Green Deal cashback scheme that was launched alongside the Green Deal itself.
“As we’ve invested a lot of time over the past two years in training, helping our customers to gain the necessary accreditation required to carry out these schemes, it would be a real shame if schemes like ECO lost momentum – the last thing we want to see is a workforce that has invested time and effort into gaining these qualifications, only to find that there are a limited number of jobs available.”
Francine Wickham, Global Marketing Director at Fernox:
“Consumers have been able to take advantage of the Green Deal since January 2013, yet the level of uptake has been disappointing. It has really been the complementary ECO scheme that has delivered the increase in boiler sales as more consumers have been able to make upgrades. Consequently, chemical water treatment sales have also improved, as installers have to ensure that new boiler installations are commissioned correctly.
“However clearly, more needs to be done. Despite the fact that the Government revised its definition of what it means to be ‘fuel poor’ in 2013, fuel poverty remains a massive issue in the UK, and one that as yet, the Green Deal is not helping to rectify.
“We need an informed and unified approach from the Government and wider construction industry that includes consumer education and the promotion of the simple, cost effective changes that can be made.”
Dave Cook, Director of Sales at Baxi:
“One year on from the Green Deal’s official launch, figures show that only 1,612 households have Green Deal Plans in progress and just 626 have installed energy efficiency measures through the scheme. With a target for 10,000 Green Deals to be completed in the scheme’s first year, these figures have naturally resulted in a new wave of criticism, with some suggesting that Green Deal is not delivering in its current format.
“However, we’d argue that the Green Deal is having a positive effect on the heating market, and, at the very least, is creating awareness about the financial and environmental benefits of upgrading a heating system. This will naturally generate new business leads for installers.
“In the latter part of 2013 it was revealed that upgrading a boiler was the most cited improvement under Green Deal, accounting for 37% of the measures installed.
“This is good news for the heating market, but at this point it’s worth mentioning that, worryingly, figures released in January 2014 have suggested that the number of boilers being installed under Green Deal is higher than the number of heating controls being fitted (354 boilers were funded compared to 108 controls), so energy and carbon savings might not be being fully realised.”
John Sinfield, Managing Director Knauf Insulation Northern Europe:
“One year on from the launch of the Green Deal, and I really wish I could commend the Government on the amount of properties that have benefited from the scheme so far. In reality, my confidence in the Government’s capacity to ambitiously drive forward a programme that was heralded as the most innovative retrofit programme the UK has seen since World War Two, has taken a severe hit.  Specifically, that criticism stems from Government’s failure in the domestic retrofit sector to be realistic about what a successful renovation policy framework looks like and to recognise the deficiencies in that policy framework once it was up and running.
“There’s no denying that 2013 has been tough for the insulation industry, but we can turn this around.  If, as I hope we can, industry and Government can collaborate to re-frame the energy efficiency debate, not as ‘lagging a few lofts’, but rather as a UK infrastructure challenge that all parties and individuals have a stake in and can benefit from, then the vision still has hope of being realised.”
Neil Schofield, Head of External and Governmental Affairs at Worcester, Bosch Group:
“In its current guise, the main issue with the Green Deal is that it’s far from installer friendly. There are some 5,000 boilers installed every day in UK homes and this should be seen as the potential catalyst for wider energy efficiency measures. The issue the Government needs to resolve is how funding for such measures under the Green Deal is made as accessible as possible, as the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2030 scheme is currently heavily weighed down by administration.
“The issue with PAS 2030 is that it duplicates many of the qualifications an installer already has, such as their Gas Safe registration. This arrangement fails to serve the interests of the industry’s SMEs, who are a crucial component of our supply chain, not to mention the Green Deal itself.
“We remain supportive of any initiative that improves efficiency levels, but more needs to be done to actively engage our heating engineers. What appears to have been forgotten is the fact that, as always in our industry, the installer is king.”