‘Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England’, was announced by government this week. It includes a variety of proposals to address current problems facing the housing sector. This article provides an overview of the Strategy with a summary of Chapter 7 ‘Quality, sustainability and designs’ which covers the Green Deal.
The Strategy announces the following:
* delivering a £400million ‘Get Britain Building’ fund to kick-start development on sites where building has been approved but stalled
* supporting a mortgage guarantee scheme to underwrite mortgages on new-build homes for first time buyers; this could mean that first-time buyers will be able to borrow up to 95 per cent of the property value – with the government underwriting part of the risk
* offering social housing tenants the opportunity to buy their properties for as little as half the market value, by extending discounts available on the ‘right-to-buy’ scheme
* refurbishing empty homes, particularly in deprived areas
* making more public sector land available for building
* holding an independent review to look at increasing investment into private rented homes
* consulting on plans to make higher earning tenants ‘pay to stay’ in social housing.
Chapter 7 Quality, sustainability and design
This chapter recognises that new and existing homes need to be well designed, of highest quality and environmentally sustainable. It is about energy efficient and reducing the UK’s carbon emissions. The chapter covers:
• providing strong leadership on design
• creating opportunities for communities to shape the design of their areas
• strengthening design support for communities
• supporting industry to encourage innovation
• committed to delivering Zero Carbon Homes from 2016
• reviewing Building Regulations to improve energy efficiency and carbon emissions standards
• launching Green Deal in 2012 to revolutionise the energy efficiency of British properties
• the National Adaptation Programme to address a changing climate
The Green Deal
The following sections are excerpts from the Strategy:
Improving the energy performance and sustainability of new homes is only one part of the story. Britain has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe and around three quarters of the homes that will be standing in 2050 have already been built. Improving existing homes to improve their environmental performance is vital to achieving the emissions reductions we need, reducing the cost of running our homes and protecting our natural environment.
Through the Green Deal, due to launch in late 2012, companies will offer energy efficiency investments to householders and then recoup payments through their energy bills. This will mean that consumers face no upfront installation costs, enjoy the benefits of warmer homes and cheaper fuel bills, and only make the payments while they stay at the property. As the charge is attached to the energy meter, it stays with the property and is taken on by the new resident.
Households who are interested in a Green Deal will receive a ‘Green Deal assessment’ of the energy performance of the building, for which an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will be issued, plus a new occupancy assessment of the actual energy use of the household to show the saving that they are likely to make from installing measures. This will be the basis for determining a tailored package of energy efficiency measures and the financial offer. To ensure that the EPC is both informative and engaging, and supports the Green Deal, government has improved its content and format and has developed a free online tool – the EPC Adviser – which enables households to model packages of energy efficiency improvements based on their EPC and then see the effect on their carbon emissions and fuel bills.
The Green Deal assessment will be carried out by Green Deal Advisors, who must be active members of an EU Energy Performance or Building Directive Accreditation Scheme in order to produce EPCs, as well as meet new standards of competence and certification to deliver the additional requirements of the Green Deal assessment.
The Green Deal assessment will be portable – the household will be able to take it to any Green Deal provider to arrange installation and finance.
EPCs will also serve as the vehicle for making sure that people considering buying or renting a property are aware of the new Green Deal charge at an early stage.
The Green Deal will be complemented by a new Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which will set targets to be met by energy companies by delivering energy efficiency measures, in particular for hard to treat homes and to households at risk of fuel poverty.
The consultation on changes to Part L of the Building Regulations in 2013 will also look at ways of generating take-up of greater levels of energy efficiency measures in existing buildings in order to help support demand for the Green Deal.
Preparing for the Green Deal
Supporting landlords across all sectors to improve the energy efficiency of homes through the Green Deal will not only help to protect the environment but will also support affordability by reducing household energy bills.
Local authorities already have a significant track record of partnership with energy companies and others to deliver energy efficiency improvements, and we expect that they will build on this under the Green Deal. Many local authorities and other social landlords are actively looking to become Green Deal providers themselves, and a number are already undertaking trailblazer retrofit projects. We are working with local government and other bodies to draw together information and advice that could assist local authorities on ways to achieve their ambitions for cutting local carbon emissions.
Adapting to future climate change
The impact of future climate change is important for the housing sector, given the life expectancy of buildings. We may, therefore, need to adapt our existing homes to deal with a climate that may be significantly different from that in which they were originally built. In future, we are likely to see more frequent water shortages, greater risks of floods and droughts, and warmer homes in hot summers. The National Adaptation Programme will set out how we plan to address the key impacts that climate change will have on our homes and other buildings.
Through its Design for Future Climate competition, the Technology Strategy Board has funded a number of design teams to develop climate change adaptation strategies for current housing projects, including both commercial developers and social housing projects. This funding will help to improve the projects’ resilience to climate change by identifying key climate risks, favourable adaptation measures and will encourage appropriate investment by clients through evidence of costs and value.
PB Energy Solutions provides Green Deal consultancy services which will support companies through the stages required to get Green Deal accreditation. This will enable them to join the list of Green Deal registered installers which will ensure opportunities that Green Deal and energy efficiency refurbishments will bring.
For affordable rates tailored to your business, contact us: http://www.greendealnationwide.co.uk/contact-us/