Training tradespeople and homeowner education are both vital to the success of the Green Deal, says Energy Saving Trust housing expert Stephen Passmore.
Experts from the Energy Saving Trust have used pioneering EU research into low-carbon refurbishment to provide recommendations to boost business opportunities in energy efficiency for the UK construction industry.
The REQUEST Project – which took place over three years from 2010 to 2012 – looked at how training tradespeople, in conjunction with homeowner education, could enhance the benefits associated with upselling ‘green’ measures before and during refurbishment projects.
The November 2012 report from the project highlighted that the industry will be a key driver for energy efficiency improvements in UK homes.
This is especially relevant with the launch of the Green Deal – a new financing mechanism designed to help householders and businesses increase the energy efficiency of UK properties.
Research prompts recommendations
Now the EST is acting on this research to open up opportunities around energy efficiency using education and training as levers to allow tradespeople to crack the low-carbon market.
The EST’s recommendations following the REQUEST project recognises the need for tradespeople to:
- Train and acquire the right knowledge to explain energy efficiency to their customers;
- Target customers with the right energy efficiency upgrade;
- Explain that measure at the right time – a key conclusion of the REQUEST report.
The UK has some of the ‘energy leakiest’ housing in Europe, and opportunities exist as those leaks are plugged. The REQUEST project provided builders and tradesmen from the Federation of Master Builders with knowledge and guidance around energy efficiency, along with a printed guide on energy efficiency improvements for their customers.
“The industry will be a key driver for energy efficiency improvements in UK homes”
That guide, it was found, had a more meaningful impact when combined with the additional knowledge and advice from the trusted builders and tradesmen. In addition, not having this knowledge or expertise was found to be a major barrier for homeowners considering energy efficiency measures.
Following training from the EST during the REQUEST pilot study, 75 per cent of tradespeople improved their knowledge of energy efficiency.
Knowledge can boost customer engagement
This can have a positive effect on the businesses of builders and tradespeople, as customers were more likely to take up these improvements in the home if they were more engaged with energy efficiency.
The REQUEST project also reaffirmed the EST’s ‘Trigger Point’ research, which highlights the importance of reaching the right households with the right measure at the right time.
The report concluded that information about energy efficiency needed to be communicated to homeowners at the earliest possible moment of a retrofit or refurbishment project, giving homeowners extra time to save money for the extra budget required.
With the Green Deal launch in January, the project has gone a long way in reaffirming the vital role that the building industry has in driving consumer demand for this initiative.
Visit the EST website for more information on the Trigger Point research and how advice from the Energy Saving Trust can boost your business, or find out more about the REQUEST report.