Flawed planning, funding inefficiently delivered and poor communications, the damning verdict of the first eighteen months of the Green Deal.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s watching brief on the implementation of the Green Deal calls for radical change if the country is going to benefit from adopting energy efficiency measures.
Launched in 2013, the Green Deal is a market-led framework intended to allow individuals and businesses to make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings at little or no upfront cost. Implemented correctly it could play a crucial role in reducing the UK’s emissions, but to date it has alienated and confused potential customers and partners.
The committee says it’s imperative barriers are understood and addressed if the scheme is to move forward.
In its conclusions the committee cites a complicated process that has led to mistrust, confusion and uncertainty. The current offer is described as ‘burdensome and limiting’ and suggests other financial opportunities may be available. Financial incentives, such as stamp duty discounts and variable council tax rates, should be considered, it says.
The Green Deal is seen as burdensome to many
Communication, as in many cases, is key. Improving the engagement with consumers is essential, particularly to explain the benefits of energy efficiency improvements. The attachment of the loan to a property remains a novel concept and one that many people are unwilling to subscribe to, unsure of how it will affect their ability to sell their house in the future.
The recommended communications strategy isn’t rocket science – targeting different sectors, from individuals to communities, promoting measures in different areas to different types of consumers and ensuring a national campaign is complemented at a local level. This is basic stuff so why wasn’t it part of the original plan? All too often communications is considered as an after thought, something that can be tacked on at the end of the project. But to be truly effective communication professionals need to be involved at the start and aware of every stage of the process.
With six months to go on the current parliament I can’t see much change happening. Improving energy efficiency in households and businesses can play a role in reducing emissions and securing supply. But only if the message is fully understood. We’ve still some way to go on this one.