Greg Barker on Green Deal at Ecobuild

Extracts from Greg Barker’s speech at Ecobuild are provided below.

Greg said:
… When the Coalition was formed one of our first pledges was for this to be the Greenest Government ever. At the heart of this pledge- particularly given the tough economy we inherited – is energy efficiency.

In a world of increasing energy prices, market volatility and rising energy imports, energy efficiency has never been more important. That is why we are creating something brand new – the Green Deal. It is truly revolutionary. It will help homeowners, landlords and tenants get a whole range of home improvements beyond insulation, including a whole range of front of house, eye catching measures.

…. In the UK, we have some of the worst performing buildings in Europe. More than half of our homes don’t have sufficient insulation. They leak heat like a sieve.

The UK building stock was responsible for 43% of total UK emissions in 2009. And despite the relatively mild winter we are coming through, increasing numbers of families are struggling to pay their energy bills and have been hit by rising energy prices. We estimate that this year up to 4.1m households will be in fuel poverty in England alone.

Energy efficiency can help tackle each of these challenges. It is a win-win-win scenario: reducing emissions, saving money and creating opportunities for business.

The Green Deal places consumers at the centre of energy efficiency policy. It isn’t about stop start Government driven and owned programme of works. It is about consumers driving demand, and a competitive market responding.

… Of course, the Green Deal isn’t just good for the consumer.

It is also good for economic growth. There is a considerable new market opportunity for businesses and industry. Our analysis supporting consultation proposals suggest that employment in the sector could more than double by 2015. Personally I think these are conservative estimates. And we are talking about billions of pounds worth of investment. This needs to be seen as a 20 year programme which has long term confidence.

In this way, the Green Deal is as much a part of our growth agenda as it is a part of our climate change policy. No longer will every discussion on energy efficiency focus solely on the insulation industry. The Green Deal has been designed to finance the installation of a broad range of measures across the energy efficiency market. Our goal is to enable the property to benefit from all the improvements that can create savings.

… We will also streamline the process by which new measures are added to the Green Deal. We want to ensure that new and innovative measures can be included in the framework on a systematic basis once their performance is independently verified. It was announced on 8th March that we will be funding a £10 million competition to be launched in early May to support incorporation of innovative technologies which can achieve significant energy savings in existing non-domestic buildings.

… All sectors which manufacture, distribute and install Green Deal eligible measures can benefit from the new financing arrangements.

The insulation sector will see a large increase in investment as we start to tackle the 7 million solid wall properties that have yet to be treated. It is vital the growth of the sector is safe and sustainable.

… I would like to confirm the position for the Microgeneration industry. The Green Deal and Renewable Heat Incentive are two key policies for DECC. There are a number of potential links between the Green Deal and the domestic element of the RHI, including similarity of customer base, and some technologies.

Some renewable heat technologies will be eligible under the Green Deal finance.

… Although the Green Deal is a market driven initiative, we recognise that we have an important role to play. The Chancellor announced a £200m injection of Government funding to provide a time limited introductory offer.

… Colleagues in the Department of Communities and Local Government are consulting on changes to Part L of the Building Regulations that could further drive take up of energy efficiency measures from October 2012.

It is of course vital that consumers have the information to feel confident in making decisions about installing energy efficiency measures and which Green Deal offer is best for them. To address this, a new advice service goes live on 2nd April, and will initially provide impartial advice to consumers on existing energy efficiency offers and renewable energy incentives.

… Consumer protection is at the heart of the Green Deal and we want to make sure the Green Deal is the best deal for everyone. As a result, it is essential to strike a balance between adequate consumer protection and not creating cost prohibitive barriers to market entry.

With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that we are proposing to remove the requirement for Green Deal Providers to have a surety bond in place prior to authorisation.

In addition, we are removing the need for Green Deal Providers to provide an Independent Conciliation Service. Instead, we are procuring a bespoke Green Deal Ombudsman to deal with any Green Deal complaints.

We have also changed the warranties proposal, removing the requirement to hold warranties for the length of the plan. We are still proposing to include robust minimum standards.

Use of existing schemes where appropriate will mean that consumers will receive as much protection as is available. Where schemes don’t exist, our proposal to include a 5 year product warranty plus ten years of consequential building damage cover go further than the current industry norm. The minimum requirements we are putting in place means the warranty will be of real value to the consumer.

Consumer protection is still of utmost importance and we really feel that the position we have reached is the most suitable for consumers and business.

… I would encourage you to consider your role in the Green Deal.

I was pleased that DECC announced on 8th March £3.5m to train assessors and installers. We are working closely with the Green Deal Skills Alliance to ensure that support goes to where it is most needed. £2.5m of this will be to train solid wall insulation installers with the help of Construction Skills. £1m will be used to train Green Deal Advisors, operating at the front line of the Green Deal. We hope to set out more detail on this in May.

I am also pleased to announce that DECC, working with supply chain experts will host a series of up to ten regional events as we get nearer to the launch of the Green Deal. These events will be designed to ensure that companies up and down the country – small or large – understand what they need to do to be in the Green Deal.

… Having the right professionals to provide quality impartial advice to households and businesses is necessary for the success of the Green Deal.

We have been doing a significant amount of work with stakeholders to design the right assessment framework to support the Green Deal. National Occupational Standards setting out the high level expectations of all Green Deal Advisors are already available on the DECC website.

Preparations are well underway to develop material to help training of Green Deal Advisors get off to a flying start. In the coming months we look forward to the first batch of Green Deal Advisors being trained.

… Finally, and perhaps most importantly, strong local participation will also be key to rolling out the Green Deal. We don’t want pepper-potting. We want a coherent role out from a range of partners. This Government is passionate about giving more power and responsibility to local people, neighbourhoods and communities to create better local services and outcomes. It is the Big Society.

And the Green Deal offers opportunities for Big Society style collaborations working with and through a range of partnerships according to local needs.

Landlords – both private and social – could all have an important role to play here, alongside Local Authorities and Community Organisations. These organisations will know the needs and wants in their local areas. They will also be able to foster local economic development including supporting the maintenance and generation of local jobs and skills.

There is already evidence that communities are responding. Our £10 million Local Energy Assessment Fund is helping local communities come forward with their plans and preparation for the Green Deal…

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