The Green Deal accreditation scheme was revealed by energy secretary Chris Huhne yesterday when he published his Energy Bill.
A key plank of the bill is the Green Deal scheme, due to start in 2012, which government intends will enable private companies to make energy efficiency available to all at no upfront cost. Work to improve insulation on the property will be paid back from saving on energy bills, government says. It will be available to householders and business premises.
According to the department of energy and climate change, the number of people employed in insulation alone could soar from the present 27,000 to 100,000 by 2015, eventually rising to a peak of 250,000 in the next decade.
Huhne said: “I’m confident the Green Deal will catch on with the public. It’ll make upgrading our nation’s draughty homes a no brainer. But I don’t want people to be hoodwinked by rogue traders or receive dodgy advice. Trust is important when it comes to having work done in our homes. Consumer protection will be built into the Green Deal from the word go. Accreditation, a quality mark, insurance-backed warranties – there’ll be no place for cowboys to get a foothold in the Green Deal.”
The Federation of Master Builders acknowledged that an accreditation scheme would help ensure the success of Green Deal, but it would not solve the problem of consumer demand. FMB director general Richard Diment said: "The government is completely right to recognise the fact that accreditation is vital to the success of the Green Deal. The opportunity to transform our existing homes is too big an opportunity for legitimate builders seeking new work to be to be undermined by the cowboy builders who need to be stamped out from the construction industry once and for all. It is important that those charged with carrying out the energy efficiency improvement work are recognised as competent in order to safeguard householders as well as reputable builders.”
He continued: “Unlike other countries, there is no formal registration system for builders in this country with the result that every year over £170m is stolen by unscrupulous builders from homeowners across the UK. The Green Deal gives us an opportunity to tackle this problem and the Government and the building trade must not be found to be wanting; the Green Deal 'quality mark' must stand up to the test.”
Diment concluded: “Sadly it seems thus far that the government has failed to take proper account of the need for sufficient incentives for homeowners to upgrade their properties. Housing is responsible for more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions, As new build adds only 0.75% to the total housing stock in any one year, it is essential that a market is created to drive the retrofitting of our existing stock. Therefore, financial incentives, such as a reduction in VAT, are desperately needed to help cover the upfront costs and kick-start the retrofit market.”
Key highlights of the promised protection measures include:
- All customers will receive accredited advice on how to make their property more energy efficient
- The Green Deal measures must be installed by an accredited installer working for a reputable company
- Rules will prevent customers being subjected to unfair or misleading selling practices
- A ‘Green Deal’ quality mark to ensure trust in the scheme
- Insurance-backed warranties to cover the work so consumers are covered if there are faults with the advice or installation of measures
- A competitive market for Green Deal delivery which enables new market entrants, like high street retailers, builders’ merchants or local authorities, to be advisers, providers and accredited installers.
The Energy Bill also includes measures to:
- encourage investment in low carbon electricity generation include enabling implementation of the enduring offshore electricity transmission regime beyond 2010 to ensure that wind farms can connect to the grid and giving investors in new nuclear increased certainty over their obligations.
- improve energy security,including stronger arrangements to monitor future electricity security; and strengthening market incentive mechanisms for ensuring sufficient gas is available during a gas supply emergency.
- give companies improved access to upstream oil and gas infrastructure.