ACE Research presented two papers at the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy‘s biennial Summer Study a fortnight ago. One investigates the energy efficiency implications of an ageing population in the context of constricted housing supply. The other examines the history of the Green Deal’s development to date. Continue reading to find the abstracts, along with links to the full papers and their presentations.
Somewhere between a ‘Comedy of errors’ and ‘As you like it’? A brief history of Britain’s ‘Green Deal’ so far (paper; presentation)
The Green Deal finance mechanism is designed to enable households and small businesses to install energy efficiency improvements at no up-front cost. The capital is granted so long as the repayments (for which the utility bill payer, not the building owner, is liable) do not exceed the value of the predicted energy savings. Completely new to any European country, it has been described as a “no-brainer”, a “game-changer”, a “massive economic and job opportunity which could help Britain’s economy turn the corner” and “the biggest home energy efficiency drive since the Second World War” (Secretary of State Chris Huhne, 2010–2011; Minister of State Greg Barker, 2011).
The Green Deal was launched on October 1, 2012 – and despite it being the Government’s flagship green policy, the responsible Department of Energy and Climate Change did not even issue a press release on that day. What happened? This small incident is just the tip of an iceberg of a sometimes tumultuous but always fascinating process of policy development. From its inception as a political manifesto commitment in early 2010, the Green Deal’s evolution has seen ministers announcing very high ambitions, contrasted with official predictions of very low take-up; press coverage ranging from good to bad to ugly; and stakeholders (often simultaneously) alienated and more heavily engaged than ever before: all framed by the still considerable uncertainty about this new policy mechanism.
The dichotomies alluded to above provide the focal point and aim for this paper: to convey a multi-faceted history of the still young Green Deal. This paper reviews its intellectual, political, cultural (media), and stakeholder (involvement) history – by drawing on policy papers, speeches, press articles, meeting notes and stakeholders themselves – to paint a vivid picture of policy development in practice and draw out conclusions for policy-makers and others who might consider embarking into similarly uncharted policy waters.
Housing crisis: efficiency opportunity (paper; presentation)
This paper explores the housing crisis currently faced by the UK; housing space has become increasingly unaffordable for many households, with the shortage of supply being exacerbated by a recent decline in the number of new properties being built. The paper looks in detail at the potential to increase housing space in the market by encouraging downsizing amongst retired households. Firstly the current housing situation in the UK is considered and the trends in demographics and the housing choices of older people are considered to determine the influence this has had on the current situation. The paper looks at current trends in downsizing and assesses the potential for older people to move to a smaller property dependent on age and economic grouping.
By moving different occupants from one property to another, overall energy consumption across the housing stock may be influenced as well as the rate of energy efficiency retrofit. Downsizing will also release housing space into the market, reducing the amount of new housing space that needs to be built. A broad analysis of these effects is conducted to assess the energy efficiency implication downsizing may have.
Finally the paper reviews the policies that currently exist in the UK to improve housing conditions for our ageing population and sensitively encourage more households to downsize. Additional policy options are considered and opportunities for energy efficiency policy to work alongside social and housing policy are identified.