Green Deal must gain 'credible reputation early'
Encouraging take-up of the Green Deal is going to be a "hell of a challenge" for green deal providers (GDP), but could provide a "niche" for SMEs looking for business opportunities.
That's the collective view of a panel of Green Deal experts taking part in a discussion on the role of GDP's and the opportunities the Green Deal could offer businesses - although warned it must gain a "credible reputation early" if it is to succeed.
Taking place in London today (May 30), delegates to the Flash conference heard from Technology Strategy Board (TSB) consultant Paul Ruyssevelt, who admitted that the Green Deal is a "bit of a leap into the dark" for both GDP's and consumers looking to take up the programme.
However, he said that he believed the Green Deal that would play an important role in helping the UK cut emissions by 80% in social housing by 2050, against a 1990 baseline - although warned some technologies might not yet be appropriate for domestic properties.
As a result, he said that the Green Deal will need to "focus on integration of products, technologies and activities to deliver a credible service and establish a good early reputation".
Meanwhile, David Hall of the Behaviour Change and Green Deal Network said that motivating consumers to take-up the Deal would pose a challenge, and that a "complete transformation is required".
He continued by outlining research carried out by the Network which revealed that many consumers are sceptical of the Deal because of the number of retrofitting deals available.
He said: "A real challenge for the Green Deal is that it needs to feel new and different as there are a lot of insulation deals out there.
"It's very important it doesn't feel as a rebranding of existing schemes and that people understand why this is happening."
As a result, he said that the Green Deal needs to offer consumers a "compelling" reason to take-up the programme and that for most people "green is not a prime motivator" as in the current climate most are interested in saving on energy bills and creating a warmer, more comfortable home.
While "green is not a way in" for GDP's hoping to attract customers, he said that it will play a role in helping to reduce carbon emissions and meet the UK's long-term environmental targets.
In conclusion, Mr Hall said that the Green Deal must offer consumers transparency, honesty and consistency.
Commenting on the prospects the Green Deal could offer SMEs, Rickaby Thompson Associates director Peter Rickaby said that there are many Green Deal "niches" for small companies, including work in inspection, maintenance and project management.
He said that it is likely that many GDPs will form partnerships between retailers, Housing Authorities, Local Authorities and contractors to deliver the deal and that SMEs will fill any gaps.
Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund the Flash programme aims to provide businesses with information to take advantage of low carbon business opportunities, such as the Green Deal.