Several of us from Transition Tooting attended this months’ excellent WEF Open Meeting and WEF Co-Chair Jon Irwin has very kindly written up the details of the meeting for those who were not able to attend.

Green Deal – Notes from the Open Meeting 3rd November 2011
John Alker, Policy Director of the Green Building Council (GBC) introduced the Green Deal, as Justine Greening MP was delayed in arriving.

Background to the GBC:
It is a charity funded by it’s members (building organisations, local authorities number amongst them). They are apolitical and can be viewed as part trade association part NGO. They form part of an international network of other green building council’s with a presence in 80 countries.
25% of UK energy use is by UK housing stock. On average there are between 25-30k deaths each winter that are attributable to the cold.

Green Deal:
GBC has been involved in 2009 proposing a “pay as you save” scheme. The ideas from this have been taken up in the Green Deal. The charge for work done under the green deal is attached the the property over a 25 year period. Key element to the Green Deal is the Golden rule. Only measures that result in cost savings through energy efficiency over the lifetime of the deal can be included in it.

Energy efficiency should be part of market valuation of properties, to provide greater incentives for home owners to invest, and for buyers to take into account the energy efficiency of their potential future home.

There is the possibility for the green deal to include much more than insulation / double glazing. Boilers / lighting could also be included in time, providing that they satisfy the golden rule.

Key challenges:
1 Uptake
2 Assessment – needs to be robust
3 Industry capacity and skills to do the work
4 Interest rates & Golden rule
5 Access for SME’s

Needs to be strong uptake for it to work. Assessment of homes needs to be good so that the improvements work. There need to be skilled people who can do the work. Interest rates are key, because of the financing nature of the deal. If interest rates soar, then that could limit what could be done. Access for SME’s, a lot of people in the building trade are working in SME’s, they need to have access to it as they do the majority of refurbishment work in people’s homes.

By 2018 rental properties need to meet level E of energy efficiency. By 2016, tenants will be able to ask their landlords to make improvements to meet that energy rating, and the landlords will need to make the necessary improvements.

Possible incentives:
In x number of years time all properties need to meet a certain energy efficiency level.
Stamp duty rebate – if people improve their properties within a certain time frame after buying the property a rebate could be offered on the stamp duty.
Change VAT on services to make buildings more energy efficient match levels on goods which result in increased energy efficiency.
Green Investment Bank could help provide the finance behind the deal.

Justine Greening MP
Commented that the Green Deal won’t be good for everyone, as it will depend on each individual’s circumstances and needs. Local provision of services is key, as is affordability. An accredited surveyor would put together a package for that building. Accredited people do the work, they invoice the energy supplier. The “debt” is attached to the property, and would be paid off through the energy bills. The principal is that, from the month after a person has Green Deal work done in their homes, their energy bills will be less, and will continue to decrease. By next Autumn, the Green Deal should have started.

Comments raised by audience:
Hassle particularly for older people having other people coming into their homes – The assessor would work with the individual to create a personalised green deal for them and their property.

Cllr Jonathan Cook mentioned that Wandsworth Council is doing a trial with 1500 houses in Furzedown / Graveney, with work to improve those properties in partnership with local suppliers.

Consumer protection is key – accreditation of suppliers as well as product warranties.

Clean Air Act – radical changes to homes has happened before. In 1950’s over a 10 year period some 100,000 homes were converted in Wandsworth to stop burning coal.

Switching energy suppliers – that would still be possible. The “debt” would be attached the the property, and the “repayments” would be taken as part of your energy bill from your new supplier.