A committee of MPs have banded together to call for changes to be made to the Green Deal so that it is made more finanically attractive to both homeowners and landlords.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment has compiled a 36-page report, entitled "Re-energising the green agenda", suggesting that the government's flagship green policy needs to be clearer in the public eye as many people are still unaware of its existence. The report commends the setting up of the Green Deal, but believes it is time for it to be reworked to make it work for social housing and to make the financial incentives it offers more permanent. It also advocates greater clarity from the government, saying:

"Despite setting out ambitious targets, the government has been sending mixed messages about its commitment to the green agenda. This has been particularly apparent over the delay to the revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations covering energy efficiency, and the slow progress on establishing how zero carbon will be met for domestic buildings in 2016. In recent years unexpected changes to the feed-in-tariffs also caused consternation and undermined confidence in the construction sector."

They have set out seven recommendations to the government in terms of changes, which include making retrofit more finanicially attractive by looking at ways in which it can reduce the interest rate on the Green Deal, bolstering the Green Construction board to make it a more transparent organisation that provide a clear construction industry focal point, and setting up an Existing Homes Hub (along the lines of the Zero Carbon Homes Hub), to engage with the industry on sustainability issues and provide a neutral space for the industry and DECC to work together.

Group chairman Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, said: “The world faces significant environmental challenges, and to help combat them our government needs to ensure Britain plays its part in reducing CO2 emissions; make our homes more energy efficient; reduce the costs of heating our homes; help combat fuel poverty and meet our required energy needs.

“We hope this report sends a clear message to government to reaffirm and re-energise its commitment to the delivery of the sustainable agenda in construction and the built environment and in doing so, provide clarity and certainty to help industry play its part in turning policies into success stories. The potential to create jobs at home and export our new skills and expertise in this field abroad is a prize in itself.”

The full report can be read here at www.cic.org.uk

Via The Construction Index

Following Ed Miliband's promises to freeze energy bills for 20 months, limit the power yielded by the "big six" energy providers and replace energy regulator Ofgem, the Labour Party has also vowed to do something about the Green Deal at their annual party conference in Brighton earlier this week.

In a policy review published on the 24th September, the party promised to address the shortcomings of the Green Deal and create an alternative that would encourage people to sign up and make the changes to their homes. The review read: "The Green Deal is failing to deliver. Since its launch, only 384 deals have been signed up to and just twelve have gone live. This is woefully inadequate so we will overhaul the Green Deal and replace it with a new energy save scheme."

The Labour Party has also called the coalition government's flagship energy scheme "woefully inadequate" and is failing to provide any sort of long-term solution to reducing the country's carbon footprint. Energy secretary Caroline Flint said: "It was meant to be the biggest home improvement programme since World War Two and ministers said they would be having sleepless nights if 10,000 people had not signed up by Christmas 2013. They won’t be getting much shut eye."

Despite constant reports of growing interest in the Green Deal and the government's insistence that those who have had Green Deal assessments were happy and recommended them to friends and family, there have only been a total of 12 homes with completed projects since the scheme's launch earlier this year.

Of course, these changes they propose will only potentially happen should the Labour Party gain power in the next general election in 2015. With that still quite a way off, it'll be interesting to hear what exactly they propose as an alternative in the meantime.

Via uSwitch

Temperatures could soar to dangerously high levels in some homes insulated under the government's flagship Green Deal scheme, experts have warned. Energy-saving measures designed to save on winter fuel bills and protect the environment could pose a risk to health during summer heatwaves, they add. Homes in densely populated urban areas such as London are most at risk. The government says it is aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent overheating in Green Deal properties.

Heat can build up during the day and has nowhere to escape at night leading to poor air quality and a greater risk of heat stress for the occupants which, in extreme cases, can kill. It is vital that homes in the UK are better insulated to help meet carbon emission targets and save on winter fuel bills. But the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the "big rush to insulate and make homes airtight", particularly as more extreme weather events, including heatwaves, are being predicted for the UK by meteorologists.

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand. It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big," he told the BBC News website. Very effective measures are being taken to protect against winter temperatures but by doing that they increase the risk of overheating during summer.

Research by Leicester De Montfort University, suggests top floor flats in 1960s tower blocks, and modern detached houses were most at risk, particularly if they were south facing. Heat was likely to have the biggest impact on elderly or infirm people who remained at home all day, the research suggests. The elderly are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating.

Under the Green Deal, householders take out loans to finance improvements such as double-glazing, loft insulation or more efficient boilers. The idea is that the energy savings they make should more than compensate for the repayments. In total it said there had been 38,259 Green Deal assessments, where customers are given initial advice about what energy improvements they might be eligible for. Of those, 241 households have confirmed they would like to proceed with work.

According to research by a group of leading engineering and climate change experts, published last year, "Green Deal measures could create new problems in the future, with inappropriately insulated properties experiencing poor indoor air quality and significant summer overheating. It said the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves could lead to rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 "if action was not taken".

The Department for Energy and Climate Change says it has now issued fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce potential risk from installing energy efficiency measures.

He said there were simple measures anyone could take - whether living in a well-insulated home or not - to keep heat levels down, such as keeping windows closed during the day to trap cool air and opening them at night. Fitting shutters to windows and painting exterior walls white - both common sights in Mediterranean countries - would also help, but were unlikely to be widely adopted in the UK due to the relative rarity of heatwaves.

Here is the link to the full BBC report.

10 ways the UK is ill-prepared for a heatwave

- Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

It's been a long time coming, but at the end of last week the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) finally announced the details for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, with the figures expected to provide a much needed boost to the UK's renewable energy industry.

The RHI will allow householders to be paid hundreds of pounds a year for any energy generated by renewable sources such as solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps. By persuading people to install and switch over to these methods, it is believed Britain will successfully be able to meet renewable targets and cut down the country's carbon footprint, as well as save householders money on energy bills.

The tariff levels have been set at:

  • 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps
  • 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers
  • 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps 
  • At least 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal

Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: "The Coalition is committed to helping hardworking families with the cost of living. Investing for the long term in new renewable heat technologies will mean cleaner energy and cheaper bills. So this package of measures is a big step forward in our drive to get innovative renewable heating kit in our homes.

"Householders can now invest in a range of exciting heating technologies knowing how much the tariff will be for different renewable heat technologies and benefit from the clean green heat produced. We are also sending a clear signal to industry that the Coalition is 110% committed to boosting and sustaining growth in this sector"

The scheme will be made available to homeowners, private and social landlords, third party owners of heating systems, people who build their own homes and anyone who has installed a renewable heat system since 15th July 2009. It currently supports air to water heat pumps, biomass only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers, ground and water source heat pumps, flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal panels.

Applicants must complete a Green Deal Assessment before submitting their application and ensure they have met minimum loft (250mm) and cavity wall insulation requirements, where appropriate. All installations and installers must be MCS certified (or certified by an equivalent scheme). MCS certified installers are currently required to be members of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, which is backed by the Trading Standards Institute.

The DECC is currently finalising the details  of the expansion of the non-domestic RHI scheme and will confirm what comes next in Autumn alongside the outcome of the tariff review. The DECC's aim to introduce these changes from Spring 2014 onwards remains unchanged.

Full story/more information:

Heating, Ventilation & Plumbing Magazine

With the weather constantly on the up at the moment it seems like Britain may be able to enjoy a proper summer for once. However industry experts have warned that homes insulated under the Green Deal scheme could be facing dangerously high temperatures both over the coming months and future summer times. 

Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, told the BBC that the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the “big rush to insulate and make homes airtight”. He cited homes in urban areas are most at risk from problems during summer heatwaves. 

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand," he said. "It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big."

"If you are in the wrong type of house, facing the wrong way, in the wrong street and you don’t deal with heat in the right way, it is a problem. Particularly for the elderly. They are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating."

His team's report suggested that with the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves in the future, there could be a rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 if action was not taken. To combat this, the DECC are now issuing fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce this risk while continuing to install energy efficient measures.

In a statement they said: "If energy efficiency measures are installed appropriately, overheating should not be a common problem and there’s guidance available for those involved in the Green Deal."

“The DECC is working with experts and other government departments to understand the potential risk of overheating in retrofitted homes and ensure that the energy efficiency supply chain, including those working within the Green Deal, are aware and guidance is provided on homes which are most likely to be vulnerable and what steps could be taken to minimise any risk of overheating."

Via Construction Enquirer

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