Architects have expressed concerns over the viability of the Green Deal, part of the government’s Energy Bill which will receive its second reading in the House of Lords on 22 December.
The Green Deal will see homes and businesses retrofitted to increase energy efficiency, potentially creating huge opportunities for the construction industry, but many feel the scheme is not being properly funded.
Bill Gething of Architecture + Sustainability said: ‘There is a vast amount of work, it would be stupid for the industry to ignore it.’ However, he added that although large-scale developments might attract architects, work on residential properties would not be viable. He said: ‘It will be difficult to make domestic retrofitting stack up financially.’
The viability of retrofitting residential properties was also questioned by Rory Bergin, Head of Sustainability and Innovation at HTA Architects. He said: ‘It will only work on a large scale – hundreds of residents in an area working in agreement [to retrofit their homes].’ He added: ‘The success of the scheme depends on the government bringing together both groups: contractors and residents.’
With a lack of funding to entice professional architects and builders into the scheme, there are fears that a lot of the domestic retrofitting could end up in the hands of ‘cowboy builders’. Richard Diment, Director General of the Federation of Master Builders said: ‘There is evidence in the country of rogue traders, basically criminals in many cases, capitalizing [on the Green Deal] before the scheme even exists.’
The government has announced a system of accreditation that will ensure that work only goes to trained and competent industry workers. But this brings its own difficulties. ‘The government needs to define core competencies, and how these competencies are assessed,’ said Mr Diment. ‘There is a lot of work to be done in the next fifteen months before the scheme can go live.’