The Green Deal’s launch at the start of 2013 raised little fanfare, as the government’s flagship sustainability policy stumbled its way through the year without fully finding its feet. It missed government targets by a significant margin, yet is far from dead in the water.
Pressure will build on the government to incentivise take-up for its often-belittled flagship energy-efficiency scheme so that it starts to prove lucrative for an industry looking for work to provide wide-scale local employment.
“An improvement in communication from the government will be needed to make the Green Deal a success”
With an election looming and the government’s commitment to carbon reduction under the microscope, the Green Deal is a scheme that needs to start generating positive change in lowering carbon across the nation’s housing stock.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change last year announced some proposed changes to the scheme to make it more attractive, including a stamp duty rebate and incentives for landlords.
We will hear more detail about this in 2014, as well as finding out how it works in practice. Some think the problems with the Green Deal stem from the way it is perceived by the public – an improvement in communication from the government will be needed to make it a success this year.
“Financing sustainability is still an issue, so proving the business case for commercial buildings is important”
The government’s consultation on Allowable Solutions ran from April to August last year, during which it recognised it will not always be cost-effective or technically feasible to build zero-carbon homes through onsite measures.
Allowable Solutions allows builders to use offsite projects or measures to achieve the zero-carbon standard, and the government will respond to the consultation this year, providing more clarity on the guidelines for industry.
Stronger commercial case
In the commercial sector, post-occupancy monitoring will continue to increase in importance as the energy prices continue to rise, and much of the focus this year will be on strengthening the business case for health benefits associated with green buildings.
Financing sustainability is still an issue, so proving the business case is important.
There will also be a consultation on Minimum Energy Performance Standards for both residential and non-domestic buildings in 2014.
Further clarity will be provided on sustainable solutions for major infrastructure projects such as High Speed 2, new nuclear schemes and the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Questions remain about the construction and legacy impacts from these schemes on the local communities they sit within.
A number of other major infrastructure projects will reach completion both here and overseas, including the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the World Cup in Brazil, with similar questions of sustainability at the forefront.
The legacy and work of UK contractors on these projects will be closely scrutinised, while at home the legacy from London 2012 continues to take shape, with the Olympic Park renovations continuing.