Weekly Email News – the future of the building industry

Green Deal concerns
As the government’s Green Deal consultation period came to a close this week, a number of organisations announced that they were far from convinced that the scheme would be a success in its current format.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) argued that the Green Deal would fall at the first hurdle unless the government provides a range of additional incentives to encourage householders to take it up.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB said: “Householders will need to be convinced of the value of retrofitting their home particularly when the price is having a new charge attached to their electricity bill. The quickest and easiest way to create consumer demand would be to reduce VAT on Green Deal improvements or reduce Stamp Duty.”

The CBI also recognised that the government must make the Green Deal as user-friendly as possible, and welcomed the allocation of £200m to incentivise early adoption of the scheme.

Rhian Kelly, CBI director for business environment, said: “Without demand we haven’t got a Green Deal. Businesses are ready to work with the Government to excite and incentivise consumers, by emphasising the cost-saving as well as the carbon-saving benefits.”

The British Property Federation (BPF) was also welcoming, but urged action on three key areas:

• additional fiscal incentives to help make the scheme more attractive
• a roll out of Display Energy Certificates
• greater clarity on how the energy efficiency regulations on privately rented property, which are to be brought in from 2016 and 2018, will work.

The BPF also argued that tackling energy performance in existing commercial buildings is important because over 90% of non-domestic stock was built before 1986 when requirements for better thermal performance began to be introduced. Much of the stock built before then is relatively poor by today’s standards. With annual replacement rates of only 1% to 2%, around 60% of the existing stock will be with us in 2050.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Tackling energy performance in existing buildings is a crucial, but so far neglected element of any credible strategy to reduce energy demand and for mitigating the climate impact of property.

“It is clear that in non-domestic buildings, the Green Deal will not result in the level of change required by 2050. Additional fiscal incentives may be required to attract both owners and occupiers to participate amongst competing commercial and legal issues.

The FMB also argued that local businesses could be squeezed out of making the most of the new opportunities: “Another concern is how local building companies will be able to access the Green Deal given that few, if any, will become recognised Green Deal Providers because of the onerous conditions attached to providing the finance packages,” Berry said. “This is a lost opportunity as it is the local builder who is best placed to advise householders about energy efficient improvements when they are carrying out other home improvements or repairs.

“The Government has rightly tacked the need to eliminate rogue traders by insisting on the need to have Green Deal accredited installers. Local builders already have many of the key skills in place to carry out energy efficiency improvements but now they need an operational accreditation framework that enables them to demonstrate their skills and knowledge at the standard required.

“The Government’s delay in approving recognised competency schemes is not helpful and swift action is needed if the building industry is going to be ready for the launch in October. We know that the Green Deal has the potential to create some 65,000 new construction jobs which is why it is so important that we have the training courses ready at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Finally, Riba argued that vulnerable historic and traditional older buildings should be identified and given skilled specialist attention to find the most appropriate solutions.