Delivering Energy Efficiency in London

31 May 2012: Think tank Future of London having been working with local authorities and other key energy efficiency delivery agents in London over the past few months considering how the Government’s Green Deal programme can be successfully implemented in the capital. The result of these discussions have been published today in a report entitled Delivering Energy Efficiency in London‘. The role of local authorities and other local partners is – as DECC states on its website“likely to be key in ensuring effective and intensive delivery of the ECO and Green Deal in particular areas.” Hence the findings by Future of London are of particular interest, and include:

  • The capital faces a big challenge to make the most of the Government’s new approach to improving energy efficiency through the Green Deal and ECO programmes
  • Contributing factors to the  installation of energy efficiency measures being more difficult and costly in London include:

-The increased cost of parking and the congestion charge in London

– The particular characteristics of the London housing stock with a high proportion of solid wall properties and large blocks of flats that are harder to insulate

-The lack of accredited suppliers and installers within the M25

– And the increased difficulty with planning processes in London owing to the high volume of properties in conservation areas, and the need for external wall insulation on solid wall properties.

Ways in which boroughs could encourage consumer demand for the Green Deal include:

  • Promoting the scheme through council media and public-facing staff such as social workers or housing officers;
  • Using data from tax records, planning information and previous energy efficiency schemes to identify properties that could benefit from the Green Deal;
  • Working with faith groups, tenants and residents associations and other community groups to promote the Green Deal and energy efficiency.

The research sets out some really interesting points which Government will need to ensure they take into account in their formulation of the Green Deal. These include:

  • London contains an estimated 600,000 homes within conservation areas – almost half the national total – where planning laws are tighter in order to protect the character of historic buildings. One of the most efficient ways of insulating solid walls is through external cladding – in a conservation area this procedure is likely to require planning consent. At the very least, this will increase the time and bureaucracy involved in treating London homes, making it more likely that the ECO money will be directed to other regions.
  • The number of high-rise buildings in London presents a similar problem that was frequently flagged up in interviews conducted with practitioners working across the Capital. 38 per cent of homes in London are in blocks of flats, nearly triple the amount in any other region. This can drive up costs in a variety of different ways.
  • Much of the research on the Green Deal to date has suggested that a lack of consumer demand is the principle barrier to the scheme’s success. For example, even the Government’s own figures project a 93 per cent fall in the number of lofts insulated annually and a 67 per cent drop in the number of cavity walls.
  • Boroughs have had difficulty giving away energy efficiency improvements for free, marketing the Green Deal will represent a considerable challenge.
  • A participant suggested that ‘[Green Deal] assessors will need to be in people’s homes for about three hours. It’s a long time, and some residents will be uncomfortable with that’.
  • It was also noted that, while some Boroughs had been interested in providing a loft clearance service as part of previous energy efficiency schemes, they had been advised against doing so by the Council’s insurance officers.
  • experience of staff from an affluent inner London Borough interviewed as part of our research suggests that, for very different reasons, wealthier households may decline to participate in the Green Deal. They told us that “we have had little success reducing emissions from richer households because saving a few hundred pounds a year isn’t worth the hassle to them.”

Download the report here.

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