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Tag Archives: insulation
March 2016: …and so after eight years, we come to Boris’s last question time as London Mayor! And it’s good to see that energy and climate issues featured significantly yet again – a full list of which are posted here. In addition, a video has been posted online by London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones of her questions to the Mayor about a shortfall in his domestic energy efficiency programme RE:NEW.
And on that shortfall – Jenny Jones states that 95 per cent off the Mayor’s 1.7m home retrofit target has been missed with only 80,000 cavity and loft installations achieved out of a target set by the Mayor of 1.7 million. In response, the Mayor states:
- CO2 has reduced 14% since the programme began – in spite of London economic growth of 20%;
- London has significant challenges on insulation due to the low incidence of cavity wall homes and conservation areas;
- The Green Deal “wasn’t working well”
- To compensate he has recently introduced a London boiler scrappage scheme;
- After being called a “minnow” on London climate change action by Jenny Jones, when compared to other city leaders such as former New York Mayor Bloomberg and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Mayor responded that ‘he hasn’t been swanning off around the world on climate change junkets … to give good green sermons”
The Mayor’s 2011 Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy actually states a 2015 target of retrofitting 1.2 million homes. And the June 2015 update to the Strategy sets out that “By the end of the 2013-14 financial year, over 100,000 homes were visited through the Mayor’s retrofit programmes. Coupled with wider market delivery, 500,000 home have been retrofitted across the capital”, this wider market delivery referring to the number of homes delivered through the Government’s ECO programme.
The disastrous cuts to ECO and failure of the Green Deal have dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the Mayor’s energy efficiency programme RE:NEW, a recent MQ stating that in “the 12 months from October 2014 RE:NEW supported the retrofit of over 4,500 homes.”
A lot depends on what is meant by retrofit: the initial phases of the RE:NEW programme visited homes on a specifically identified area basis, providing households with a number of free “easy measures”. These visits where meant to unlock additional, more significant, retrofit action in the visited households, such as the installation of loft, cavity or solid wall insulation. Follow up action by households was however fairly limited (only a few per cent) – as has been set out in the following research paper.
It’s clear from a recent MQ that the RE:NEW programme has been adversely impacted by the Government’s disastrous changes to its ECO programme, and the flawed nature of the Green Deal. The latest Government data shows that, despite the RE:NEW programme being in place to stimulate the uptake of energy efficiency in the capital, London still has the second lowest number of ECO measures installed (per 1,000 households) across UK regions.
Provisional number of households in receipt of ECO measures by region, up to 30th June 2015 (DECC spreadsheet)
25 December 2014: Hackney Gazette story on abseiling engineers providing insulation to a number of tower blocks in Tower Hamlets. Energy supplier EDF Energy is funding the work as part of their Energy Company Obligation (ECO) targets.
EDF state that this is one of the largest ECO projects they have worked on with a London borough with some 500 homes included in the scheme on the Bancroft, Avebury, St Stephen’s and Chicksand estates. Work is expected to be complete by March, 2016.
Tower Hamlets has set out its ambition to access ECO funding in its recent 2014/15 Sustainability Action Plan. This work has been planned for sometime now – details of which are set out in a 2013 approval paper from Tower Hamlets council here. Delays have been most likely been caused through the Government’s changes to the ECO programme which the Prime Minister ordered in December 2013 (to which many concerns were raised by practioners to a DECC blog on the ECO changes earlier this year (search for words ‘Brent’ and ‘London’ in blog)).
November 2014: A news report highlighting a new ‘Smart Homes’ retrofit Project which provides “homeowners in six North London boroughs access to upgrades that can help to significantly boost the sustainability of their properties…The year-long scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK, and aims to make it simpler and more affordable for residents to install insulation that will help to reduce their energy costs.”
Haringey Council’s website reveals that the project is one that was successfully awarded funding earlier this year under government’s Green Deal Communities Fund, details of which can be found in an earlier post here. The project focuses on solid wall insulation and on Victorian and Edwardian terraces where simple, cheap energy upgrades can be difficult because of the design of the older buildings. Residents in Haringey, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest are eligible for the scheme, which is designed see more than three quarters of work carried out by local traders. The scheme is open to both owner occupiers and landlords (or tenants with landlord consent) from the boroughs and is available up to 31st March 2015.
August 2014: Lewisham Council is looking for “a home we can use to showcase energy efficiency measures. We will install improvements worth up to £10,000 free of charge to make your home less energy hungry. This might be insulation for your walls, roof, doors or windows; more efficient lighting or heating or even renewable energy installed so you can generate your own energy. You’ll get a free assessment of your home to help you decide which measures you want installed.”
The deadline for entries is 31 August 2014.
June 2014: An independent evaluation of the first year (2013) of the operation of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), undertaken by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) for industry trade association Energy UK, has recently been published and highlights the low levels of funding directed to the capital.
The study ‘The ECO: An Evaluation of Year 1‘ includes a comparison of regional distribution of ECO spend and previous energy supplier obligations and reports – that across these major energy efficiency programmes:
“London has fared the worst, because although it has the second highest population, it obtained the second lowest number of EEC-2 cavity wall insulation installations (after Scotland), the third lowest number of CERT measures (after Scotland and the North East, which have lower populations), and the third lowest number of HHCRO households (after the East of England and the South West). London has a higher number of CERO households, but relative to its population this is still low.”
The following graph from the CSE report provides an illustration of this:
Government has previously stated that the ECO would support the uptake of ‘hard to treat’ measures, which would work better for London, and hence a regional target would not be needed (see para 53 onwards from November 2011 DECC ‘Green Deal & ECO consultation document‘). It may be that DECC now needs to look at this issue again under the current ECO consultation.
October 2013: Solid Wall Insulation (SWI) is critical in helping improve the energy efficiency of a large proportion of London’s homes and hence helpful that the GLA’s RE:NEW team have produced a short FAQ document on planning issues around the retrofit of External Wall Insulation (EWI).
The note highlights that a General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) was “clarified in regard to external wall insulation for single houses in technical guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in January 2013. It is stated that for the purposes of planning, external wall insulation is considered to be an ‘improvement’ rather than ‘development’, and, hence, does not require an applicant to make a planning application first to the local planning authority.”
Further information on the CLG planning order referenced above can be seen in an earlier post here. Further information on planning issues related to the roll-out of SWI in London can also be seen in this really helpful Future of London briefing note here.
May 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
whether the Mayor had signed up to the London Big Energy Switch; whether the Mayor had signed up to the Green Deal; making Greenwich Power station a low-carbon generator; the London Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory (LEGGI); discussions with DECC over increasing levels of fuel poverty in London; the Mayor’s response to the Government’s consultation on a new definition for fuel poverty – (link to actual response document here); the growth of fuel poverty in London’s private rented sector; a new power station for London; energy and climate issues in Transport for London’s business plan; decentralised energy and the London Infrastructure Group; meetings with energy supplier companies on the ECO in London; the impact of rising energy prices on London’s economy; the poor uptake of photovoltaics in London; renewable energy supply to London Underground; the use of recycled cooking oil in London’s bus fleet; the number of job losses in the insulation industry in London; how the London Enterprise Panel’s Skills & Employment Working Group will promote green jobs; the number of ‘green’ double decker buses in London; the number ‘green’ single decker buses in London’; emissions related to the ‘New bus for London’; the Shoreditch Heat Network; the Citigen CHP scheme; Guidance on Low Carbon Cooling systems; zero carbon heating at the Tate modern; minutes of the High Level Electricity Working Group; future changes in London’s weather; climate change in the national curriculum; petition to remove climate change from the national curriculum; carbon emissions and projects supported under the Growing Places Fund the RE:NEW evaluation report and an update on the Mayor’s electricity ‘license lite’ application.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
January 2013: Solid Wall Insulation’s (SWI) time has finally come and it is now the key technology to be supported in the Government’s annual £1.3 billion ECO domestic energy efficiency programme (which came into operation at the beginning of this year). However, a significant barrier to the roll out of SWI was potential planning difficulties householders could face when wishing to retrofit their homes with SWI.
So it was good to see a tweet from DECC Minister Greg Barker last week announcing that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – which sets the policy for planning – had issued new guidance which allows SWI to be fitted without planning approval.
No DECC or DCLG news release was issued, and it was left to BusinessGreen to explain the change. “The formal clarification confirms solid wall insulation – which is commonly fitted to the exterior of a building, potentially changing the look of a property – is classified as a “permitted development”, meaning property owners can undertake the work without specific planning permission.
“Listed buildings and properties in conservation areas will remain an exception to the rule and would require specific planning permission, but Barker predicted that planning issues would “not present a problem for the vast majority of people intending to put solid wall insulation on their houses”.
The clarification is made in the following Technical Guidance issued on the government’s planning portal website ‘Permitted development for householders‘ and the wording in the document which marks such a major change for the insulation industry is remarkably succinct:
“The installation of solid wall insulation constitutes an improvement rather than an enlargement or extension to the dwellinghouse [sic] and is not caught by the provisions of d(i) and d(ii).” [p13]
where d(i) to d(ii) set out limits and conditions to permitted development rights to the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a house.
There is now a lot of activity around rolling out SWI in London including:
- a recently commissioned project by the GLA on the Green Deal which, along with other key issues, will also be looking at barriers to the uptake of SWI in London.
- Camden issued specific energy efficiency planning guidance for Dartmouth Park which specifically considers SWI – this is the first such suplementary planning guidance issued on SWI anywhere in the country
- Think tank Future of London issued a useful report earlier this year on planning issues related to the Green Deal in London, including SWI
- And a technology assessment paper by DECC on SWI has also been recently published, which mentioned the following issue in relation to London:
“A leading SWI installer recognised that in London there was no supplier stocking the full range of SWI materials required for jobs. Consequently, firms involved in one-off SWI jobs found it virtually impossible to source products at competitive rates. As a large contractor, the firm has worked hard to bulk purchase equipment for itself. Needing a warehouse for its own operations, it decided that it could help supply the sector at the same time.”
There’s still some way to go for SWI to make its impact in London. Even with permitted development rights, planning permission will be required in conservation areas and, as the Future of London report points out – there are around 600,000 homes in conservation areas in London, roughly half the national total and around 60 per cent of all homes in the capital are solid wall.
November 2012: Government introduced a new affordable warmth element share to the £1.3bn a year Energy Company Obligation (ECO) earlier this year. The Carbon Saving Company Obligation (CSCo) is designed to target insulation measures in low-income communities defined using the bottom 15% of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA) from the Index of Multiple Deprivation. A wider range of energy saving measures will be eligible for funding under the CSCo, including cavity wall, loft and solid wall insulation. Additionally, in contrast to the bulk of the ECO funds, the CSCo will be open to applications from social housing providers.
Government have set the level of the CSCo at 20% of the overall Carbon Saving Obligation element of the ECO, representing around £190m per year. DECC have stated that London has proportionally a higher number of these low income areas and hence should – in theory – fare better under the CSCo element of ECO than other regions.
A full list of LSOA qualifying for the CSCo is available in the a July 2012 DECC guidance document available here. The data provided by DECC is not in the most usable format so it’s helpful that the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has produced an Excel version of the LSOA data – download here. The CSE dataset also adds ward name, ward code and region to the original DECC dataset – to give the data extra value. The CSE dataset show that London LSOA make up 815 out of the total 5159 areas selected – just under 16 per cent. Hence, this should mean that if energy suppliers deliver their Carbon Saving Communities Obligation to the same ratio as the number of low income areas identified through the LSOA data, £30m of insulation (ie 16% of £190m) should be directed to some of the poorest homes in London, free of charge, every year, from 2013.
Grant funding will be also directed to low income households through other elements of the ECO (the affordable warmth and carbon saving obligations) but in contrast to the CSCo this will be directed to i. the non-social housing sector and will also be predominantly directed to ii. harder to treat housing through the installation of Solid Wall Insulation (SWI).
23 November 2012: A number of concerns around the the delivery of energy efficiency measures in London are raised in a paper presented earlier this month to the Greater London Authority’s Housing Investment Group. The paper sets out that:
“3.2 Due to delays in clarifying and implementing the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal, additional work is now needed to ensure a smooth transition from the end of the previous CESP /CERT funding scheme in December until the Green Deal goes live in April.
“3.3 In particular we need to ensure there is no slow down in environmental domestic retrofit in London from January to April 2013.
Critically for the insulation industry the paper goes on to say:
“We have met several suppliers who are concerned they will not be able to continue in business due to the potential drop in delivery from Jan-April.”
As a consequence, the Mayor’s RE:NEW domestic energy efficiency programme has decided to continue to contract the EST who “will help manage the transition period and maintain the supply chain framework until the implementation of Green Deal and ECO in April.”
It’s becoming clear that the insulation industry’s concerns – arising out of the Government’s decision not to implement a transition plan from CERT, which is heavily focused on the installation of cavity wall and loft insulation, to the Green Deal and ECO, which is not – are now being realised. An estimate of job losses to the insulation industry in London was also released last week (see earlier post ‘’625 jobs under threat in the Insulation Industry in London’)
19 November 2012: The Insulation Industry Forum have issued a news release stating that “a coalition representing over 70% of the UK’s £700m insulation industry has warned that 625 jobs in the insulation industry are under threat in London in 2013, with job losses starting this Winter.”
This situation arises as a result of changes being made to the Government’s home energy efficiency programme, moving from the existing CERT scheme, to the new Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal from the beginning of 2013. The IIF state that:
“The losses come from the gap between the ending of the existing subsidy schemes for cavity wall solid wall and loft insulation, and the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) becoming fully functional. This will seriously impact on the continuity of work and number of cavity wall, loft insulation and solid wall jobs undertaken from the 1 January 2013. As a result of the gap, 625 jobs will go in London in 2013.”
As detailed in a number of previous posts, London has missed out from energy supplier CERT funds (and its predecessor programmes) over the last decade (clearly shown in slide 2 of a recent GLA presentation on the ‘History of Attracting CERT’ here). There are still significant numbers of lofts and cavity walls to be insulated in the capital. However, the new ECO and Green Deal programmes will remove the market stimulation programmes for loft and cavity insulation – apart from those households who fall within a subset of ECO – the Carbon Saving Communities Obligation (CSCO) areas.
At the Local Government Association’s Green Deal conference held in London last Friday, a presentation from East London based organisation Otesha highlighted that programmes they had initiated to help get young unemployed people trained in the insulation sector, as part of their ‘green jobs’ initiative, where stalling as a result of insulation companies losing contracts because of the change in Government programmes.
October 2012: Just posted on the GLA website is a Mayoral approval form for the current round of RE:NEW 2012/13 (also called RE:NEW II). The approval form is signed and dated by the Mayor back in April (pre-election) but has only been posted on the GLA website on 16 October. It provides for £3m to be allocated to retrofit a further 24,000 homes (on top of the 64,000 homes treated under RE:NEW I) by the end of this calendar year. An additional £300,000 is being spent on stimulating early Green Deal uptake with a delivery agent procured (using the RE:NEW framework) to deliver RE:NEW Green Deal to residents in selected areas.
The approval form sets out that “The focus of the RE:NEW Green Deal delivery would be to generate early leads for Green Deal assessments once it becomes available, test different methods for generating this take up (including the creation of local champions and referral fees) and other engagement and education tools.”
“It is expected that through this work stream, 3,500 homes would have signed up for a Green Deal visit by March 2013. As part of the wider engagement, there would also be an element of education and promotion of Green Deal across London as a whole. This would enable any Londoner to sign up to receive a Green Deal survey as soon as available.”
Further information on RE:NEW targets is available in the following post.