Tradesman are being urged to start the process of becoming Green Deal accredited, as industry experts describe the government scheme as a long term solution that will take off in the autumn.
In the six months since its launch, almost 40,000 energy assessments have been carried out under Green Deal, yet it has received continued criticism that awareness and demand are too low.
This is partly due to what many felt were disappointing statistics for the first six months, published by the Department for Energy & Climate Change, which showed only four approved schemes have been put in place.
Paul Joyner, director of Sustainable Building Solutions, part of the Travis Perkins Group, disagrees with these claims and has appealed to industry for some perspective.
“There are issues with the Green Deal, but they are at a much deeper level than 'the consumer just doesn’t understand how it works'. That is condescending and downright wrong – 38,000 evaluations testify to the fact that this is not a demand issue,” he said.
“The big challenge we face is the sniping and unwarranted criticism which could de-rail the whole scheme.”
Thomas Farquhar, marketing manager of Easy Green Deal, agreed, saying that if the scheme’s success were being measured by usual business standards, dealing with 40,000 customers in just a half year of trading was a tremendous start.
Joyner identified access to finance as the key problem, but was sympathetic to the problems faced by Green Deal finance companies, both in terms of the technology being used and the need for consumer protection.
“I am confident that, once the finance is in place, the Green Deal will really take-off,” he said.
Easy Green Deal, which helps businesses to become accredited to carry out energy saving works and initial assessments under the scheme, also expects an increase in uptake and is advising tradesmen that now is the time to get Green Deal Certified. The company pointed out that the scheme is a long-term approach to the energy crisis, never intended as a quick and immediate means of making the country’s homes and businesses more energy friendly.
“We also need to remember that this is a big education programme for the consumer,” Farquhar said. “Up until now the industry has focused on just one or two energy saving measures such as solar panels. Now we are presenting the consumer with up to 45 different options. As more people begin to understand this we will see a big uptake in signups.”
Easy Green Deal expects that rising energy costs will make going green an attractive prospect for cash-strapped homeowners, leading the site to predict an imminent surge in demand for eco-friendly installations.
"We will see an exponential growth in signups for the Green Deal scheme from the consumer as we see more Green Deal Assessors and installers become certified. They are an important part of the scheme and intrinsic to its success,” Farquhar added.
“Before incredible numbers of assessments and installations can be completed there has to be a corresponding number of Green Deal certified assessors and installers in place. For those who have not yet started the process to become Green Deal certified there really isn’t a better time. The scheme is at its grass roots level and if an objective study of the first six months’ numbers is anything to go by, it’s only going to grow from here. That makes the business potential of Green Deal certification incredibly lucrative.”