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Is the glass half full or half empty?

When I was in my late teens, one of our drinks was crème de menthe and lager, mainly because it was eye-catching – I’d certainly not want to try it today! Instead I have a different green glass. It’s called the Green Deal and we have to ask whether it’s half full or half empty.

Last week, the government published a lot of details about how they plan to operate the Green Deal. This was followed by much moaning about its failure to meet the industry’s expectations.

Yes there are missed opportunities, things have been watered down and the launch will now be soft and expected to take 18 months – but it is happening.

My glass is half full. I see the fact that there is a payment mechanism in place, training and accreditation bodies appointed and an expanded list of approved products as a positive sign.

The Construction Products Association has published a very useful guide on the opportunities for industry which is free to download. This explains what a contractor needs to do to become an approved installer.

It also highlights some of the opportunities; additional energy efficiency measures being installed alongside other residential work, whole-house approach, local area initiatives and much more.

This might not be the promised land we were first told about, but it is an opportunity at a time when activity in most of the construction market is falling.

Homeowners will be encouraged to improve their energy-efficiency measures, and providers will be working with contractors to upgrade homes using a financing method that will allow for the cost of installation to be funded from savings in energy bills.

There is also a commitment from the government to support SMEs as part of this programme.

Like every new initiative, while it is seen as an opportunity by those who will take advantage of it, those that ignore it will find it is a threat.

New supply relationships will be established and you can be certain that over time these will evolve into the installation of more than just energy-efficiency measures.

The Green Deal is also about cutting out the cowboy builder from the supply chain by insisting on accredited installers. Expect this to become the norm for all work in the future, regardless of its nature of funding.

Or to put it another way, make sure your team is accredited, preferably while there is funding available.

You might be taking the view that you don’t do residential work: well be aware that in the future, perhaps in 18 months’ time, upgrading of commercial properties will become a target for the Green Deal, providing a new opportunity – or threat.

In marketing, a key activity is watching the market and identifying opportunities to allow the business to develop and differentiate itself, improving profitability. There could not have been a bigger signpost for this opportunity, so make sure you don’t miss it.

Chris Ashworth is the founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy, which provides strategic marketing services to the construction industry. He is a member of the organising committee for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group, and wrote the CIMCIG Report about the Green Deal ‘Taking Sustainability to the Consumer


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