The Green Deal is being promoted as the big opportunity for construction over the next 10 years with the potential to create 100,000 jobs and upgrade 500,000 homes a year.
But will it happen? And more importantly will it make the difference to our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions?
This week the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) published a survey that causes me concern that despite all the funding and good intention by regulation we will fail to meet the challenge.
The FMB has surveyed its members and found that almost 44 per cent thought homeowners were unlikely to take advantage of the Green Deal when it launches in autumn 2012. The FMB is further concerned that its members will be squeezed out of this opportunity by larger ‘one-stop shop’ companies who will provide a full range of installation and energy management services.
Worried they should be, as most if not all of the major energy utilities are gearing up installation teams for insulation and renewable energy measures for retrofit applications.
The FMB goes further and calls for cuts in VAT and council tax bills to encourage the consumer to take up the Green Deal and create consumer demand.
This reminds me of the conclusions drawn from the 2010 CIMCIG report, which addressed the market opportunities of low-carbon buildings. The report drew the conclusion that the market has plenty of incentive and regulation to act as market stimulation, but the consumer take-up and market viability is still pretty poor.
Markets work where there is demand. Ultimately the ‘green construction market’ is driven by consumers - building occupiers as well as owners - both in terms of wanting the products and being able to make them work. I think that most people get the idea that we need to do more to save the planet, but very few of them see it as a way of life or willingly embrace the challenge.
Some do. I consider myself as one of them as I have a draft excluded, loft and cavity wall-insulated house and new energy efficient boiler. But whenever I talk to friends and family about this they look at me as some sort of eco freak rather than ‘normal’. They don’t get the message that all of these actions add to my family’s quality of life as well as cut carbon emissions and save me money.
And that’s the bit that is missing from all of the talk of the Green Deal, Act on CO2, etc. It’s all stick and very little seasoned and flavoured carrot. The consumer will only act with enthusiasm when they see the tangible benefit and that’s not just about ‘doing their bit’.
If your company manufacturers, supplies or installs sustainable materials that could be used in the Green Deal, you should be preparing to take advantage of this opportunity.
To help you, CIMCIG and CAPSIG have organised an evening seminar where you can learn what you can and cannot say in your promotional material, approaches the government are considering to encourage take-up by homeowners, and social marketing techniques that can be used to influence decisions.
The seminar will take place on 12 May at The Building Centre, Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT. Visit the CIMCIG website for further details.