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

Following the mixed response to the first official Green Deal figures, renewable energy measures have taken another hit as the frequently delayed domestic Renewable Heat Incentive hits another snag.

Last week Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne released his Comprehensive Spending Review, which featured the new budget for the RHI in the 2015-16 period. The figure is £430 million, which is only £6 million more than the 2014-15 figure.

Neil Schofield, head of government and external affairs at Worchester, Bosch Group, has suggested that this will effectively kill the measure, which is still yet to be introduced properly. After a number of delays, its proper introduction is currently scheduled for Spring 2014.

He went on to say: "The Chancellor is sending a clear message that the future is not renewable energy. The constant delays to the introduction of domestic RHI have led many in the heating industry to believe that there is no real commitment from the Coalition Government towards domestic renewables. The new policy of starving domestic RHI of vital cash effectively sounds the death knell for the scheme."

The domestic RHI is a scheme set to offer home owners significant financial rewards for installing renewable heat technologies such as biomass boilers, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and more. These rewards come on top of the considerable fuel savings that come from switching over to renewable heat products.

Via Installer Online

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the first quarterly Green Deal statistics, which have been met to mixed response by leading industry professionals. These statistics show that almost 40,000 people so far have had an assessment carried out.

The key figures for up to the 16th June are:

  • 38,259 homes have had a Green Deal assessment
  • A rise in assessments every month: 7,491 in March, 9,522 in April, 12,146 in May
  • 241 customers have obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and have confirmed they wish to make energy efficient improvements to their home
  • Four customers have signed up to a Green Deal Plan and progress is being made to install energy efficient measures
  • 961 people have claimed cashback for a new boiler installation – 902 gas and 59 oil boilers
  • 1,254 installer organisations are accredited and qualified to work within the Green Deal.
Plumb Center's Head of Sustainability Tim Polland has praised these figures, remarking that "40,000 assessments is a significant marketplace and installers will know that represents more than a fad – I can’t imagine any installer not thinking it’s a good thing." He expressed optimism that the scheme would continue to grow past "those who are passionate about the scheme" and that stressed:"...the people at the heart of Green Deal knew it wasn’t going to produce a tsunami of demand at the start, it was going to be a scheme of longevity and the time to judge is at its end, not its beginning."

On the other side of the argument, HHIC (Heating & Hotwater Industry Council) Director Roger Webb considered the figures "very disappointing". He went on to say: "However, on a positive note, they will be a wake-up call for the government to simplify the scheme and to really engage with the small installer. It is not too late for the Green Deal as the scheme has hardly got off the ground and further action will be required to reform the scheme. The heating industry from the success of the cashback incentive want to stress that figures prove that changing a boiler is one of the key routes to gain consumer interest in the Green Deal and enabling further measures to be taken up."

Meanwhile, earlier last week it was revealed that a cross-section of industry leaders had written to all three main political parties in an attempt to persuade them to come together to ensure that the Green Deal doesn't fail. The letter was addressed to energy secretary Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat), minister Greg Barker (Conservative) and shadow energy minister Luciana Berger (Labour) can be viewed in its entirety below;

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We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require government – either this one, or indeed any future one – to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates: The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent government intervention to support new build homes, government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives: Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council tax or stamp duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement: There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus: There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul King - Chief executive, UK Green Building Council
  • James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital
  • Mark Clare - Group chief executive of Barratt Developments Plc
  • John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • Peter Hindle - general delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain
  • Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc
  • Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc
  • John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation
  • Russell Smith - Managing director, Parity Projects & acting chairman of RetrofitWorks
  • Nigel Taylor - Chief operating officer, Services, Carillion Plc
  • Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

NO! It’s not, is the simple answer.

The number of homes installing cavity wall insulation has crashed by 97% since the government's flagship energy–efficiency scheme was introduced, new figures have revealed. Previous energy-efficiency schemes meant cavity wall insulation – one of the cheapest ways of cutting energy bills and climate-warming carbon emissions, was heavily subsidised or free. But under the Green Deal, which aims to upgrade the efficiency of 14m homes, households have to take out a loan to pay for the measure.

Figures from the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which monitors the issue of installations and guarantees, show that only 1,138 installations were completed in April 2013, down from 49,650 in April 2012. The government's own impact assessment predicted in January 2012 that cavity wall insulations would collapse by 67%, but the reality has far outstripped this estimate. Government data shows that 1.4m cavity wall insulations are needed to meet its carbon targets.

This crash shows a "desperate need for financial stimuli for the Green Deal".

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The Green Deal is an ambitious, long-term programme designed to deliver home improvement in Great Britain on an unprecedented scale." He noted that a cashback scheme currently offers £250 for cavity wall insulation, although this will not cover the total cost. "Additional help for this type of work may also be available for people in hard to treat properties, and those on benefits or low income," he added.

Luciana Berger, the shadow minister for climate change, said: "This staggering collapse in the number of energy-efficiency installations is a disaster for our economy and a body blow for hundreds of small businesses across the country. This is all the more damaging when there are at least 5.8m homes in the UK that still need cavity wall insulation, according to the government's own estimates."

The government's impact assessment also predicted a drop of 93% in loft insulations, the most cost effective energy-efficiency measure of all!

- Mark Jenkins

The BPEC Charity is once again taking nominations for its Life Award programme, which offers a grant of up to £15,000 to those with plans of improving others' lives using their plumbing skills.

Last year £30,000 was given to four projects which ranged from developing a safe water system to a health clinic in Mozambique, apprentice plumbers working alongside a village community in Uganda to build drinking water wells and similar safe drinking water work in Nicaragua. A little closer to home, the charity also gave money toward the development of a virtual plumbing college online to support students and teachers alike. Regular updates on these projects can be found on the Life Award's progress blog

There are three separate opportunities for financial support over each year which are open to ALL who are working in the UK plumbing industry, whether you are self-employed, a tutor or even an apprentice. These are the BPEC Life Award, the BPEC Support Fund and the BPEC Sport Awards.

The BPEC Charity, also known as BPEC (Training) Ltd, was re launched in 2012 with the strapline of "re-investing in our industry". The charity's focus is to raise the knowledge and skills of those working in the UK Plumbing and Heating industry. It also provides the opportunity to offer support to those who would like to pursue a career in the industry, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. More about its vision, mission and values can be seen HERE.

You can register to find out more about the Life Award. The deadline for entries is the 31st July.

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Access Training's bespoke plumbing courses are BPEC accredited, a sure sign of the quality of learning we offer students. If you are interested in gaining the necessery qualifications to become a plumber, our experienced teaching staff are ready and waiting to help you. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

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