The new DECC framework is set to open up Green Deal opportunities for contractors and installers, according to David Dunn
The Green Deal is the coalition Government's flagship policy for reducing energy use and cutting carbon emissions from the UK's buildings.
Contained within the Energy Act 2011 and set for implementation in Autumn this year, it represents one of the biggest opportunities in a generation to reduce carbon emissions.
Estimates vary, but according to government predictions it is expected to generate some £15bn of new business, covering sales of equipment and installation services. It is also expected to generate and support an additional 100,000 jobs.
The scheme covers both domestic and commercial properties, enabling smaller businesses to obtain funding for energy efficiency improvements, and larger businesses to obtain finance to meet their obligations under existing schemes - such as Climate Change Agreements or the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme - at lower cost.
For hvac contractors, many of whom are facing tough market conditions, it offers an opportunity to tap into a new source of business that is predicted to expand significantly into the future.
The Green Deal is based on a foundation principle known as the Golden Rule. This requires that, in order to qualify for financial support, the energy savings anticipated from an initiative must be at least equal to or greater than the cost of installing it.
For forward-thinking contractors and installers, it opens up possibilities for a more creative, consultative-style approach, working with clients and suppliers to identify opportunities for saving energy and carbon.
There has been a lot of talk about the Green Deal programme, its potential and how it will operate in practice. One of the big question marks has been over the competence standards that will be used to accredit installers and contractors to deliver Green Deal projects.
This is important as the programme requires all those contributing to Green Deal schemes, whether in an advisory capacity or as installers, to be specifically accredited.
The government, in consultation with the British Standards Institute and industry bodies, has now set out its detailed thinking on this in the recently published PAS 2030:2012 Green Deal: Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Specification for installation process, process management and service provision.
This sets out the framework of competence standards against which those seeking accreditation under the Green Deal will be assessed.
It covers detailed requirements for installation and management procedures, and specifies quality standards for the overall service provided to the customer before, during and after the installation.
The aim, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), is to 'establish a robust, uniformly applicable specification that will assist installers that comply with its requirements in full to demonstrate that their installation processes are capable of providing installation of energy efficiency improvement measures to specification and in accordance with the customer's expectations.'
When PAS2030 was published, there were 26 Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) under the scheme, with detailed requirements given for each in a technical appendix. For any given installation, the installer must meet all the principle requirements of PAS 2030, together with the technical requirements relevant to the EEM.
Specific technologies and measures include ground and air-source heat pumps, heating controls, solar thermal and solar pv systems, combined heat and power plant and insulation in its various forms. It is expected that the list of measures will evolve over time, and a procedure has been agreed to enable periodic updating of PAS2030 to accommodate amendments, additions and deletions.
After all the fanfare and publicity, the publication of PAS2030 sets out a practical and workable framework that installers can use to ensure they have the necessary skills and approach to take advantage of the Green Deal opportunity.
The level of detail across the areas covered is striking, reflecting significant input to the technical thinking by industry and BSI. The requirements not only cover installation processes and management, but set out criteria for installation methods, equipment, tools and material suitability.
There is also a framework for commissioning and requirements for training people carrying out installations.
Armed with this, installers and contractors can now begin to take the practical steps necessary to become Green Deal service providers. PAS2030 enables companies to check where they are already equipped and where there may be gaps in the skills mix.
Accreditation for installers under the scheme will be carried out by the Green Deal Skills Alliance (GDSA), a new body made up of three Sector Skills Councils - AssetSkills, ConstructionSkills and SummitSkills.
We will be hearing a lot more from the GDSA in the near future. It is not only responsible for accreditation, but for ensuring delivery of the right training courses to equip people to carry out Green Deal projects.
For companies keen to get involved with the Green Deal, it will provide a vital springboard.
// The author is commercial director of Toshiba Air Conditioning