Deal Or No (Green) Deal

With the previous article in mind it is worth pondering at what point the government will ditch its poorly conceived, and ill-fated, Green Deal energy conservation scheme. With emission targets being met as much by falling economic activity as government schemes, one of the major incentives for pushing forward with the program has all but disappeared. Global markets are awash with oil, forcing down prices of carbon-based fuels, and there are enough carbon credits swilling around within the European Emission Trading Scheme to meet the UK’s electricity needs with coal fired power stations.

The Green Deal is increasingly seen as a relatively pointless tax on household energy prices - and energy companies ensure their financially strapped customers continue to see it this way. While DECC would find it embarrassing to drop the scheme before the Autumn it will be under a lot of pressure to scrap the Green Deal before the weather gets cold again and householders are forced to turn their central heating on. The government will certainly want the scheme dead and well buried before they start campaigning for the next election in 2015 – regardless of the egg on faces and blood on the carpet at DECC. So basically, pick a date for the Green Deal’s assisted suicide sometime between October 2013 and September 2014.

Who will mourn the loss of the UK’s key environmental home improvement program? Some companies that have invested heavily in the Green Deal; at least one magazine is mostly relient on content generated by the scheme and a number of installers have shelled out for accreditation and training. There will be a lot of companies in the secondary construction industry who feel they have been helped up off their knees just to have the rug pulled out from under their feet. For them the question must be: what next? What, if anything, will replace the Green Deal?

Here I come back to the argument I’ve made on numerous occasions: to make the sustainable building and sustainable energy industries sustainable they have got to be economically sustainable. It is pointless telling the few people living in energy efficient houses they are saving money if they, and everyone else, perceive sustainability as a tax on their fuel bill. There are many ways to improve the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock. One example is a simple low cost piece of engineering applied to something many householders have already added to their home – a conservatory. While the result falls short of providing all the heat energy required during the year it does reduce heating bills for minimal cost: without the need for a grant or pushing other householders into fuel poverty. This is the type of initiative that the UK construction and energy industry needs to consider in a post Green Deal era.

Further details on the passive solar and heat energy storage technology on this site.