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Independent investigation reveals communities’ thoughts on Government’s Green Deal

Implications and challenges surrounding the Governments energy-efficiency flagship programme the Green Deal have been raised by University of Sheffield researchers following an investigation into what low income communities in the Yorkshire and Humberside region think of the scheme.

Insulation in a home ©iStockphoto.com/LianeM

Experts from the University of Sheffield, as part of wider research into the BIG Energy Upgrade Programme, held focus groups in six towns and cities across the region to assess initial awareness of the Green Deal by residents in deprived communities.

The Green Deal is one of the flagship policies of the current Coalition Government stimulating economic growth and aiming for carbon emissions reduction, fuel poverty reduction and improved homes.

Initial costs of any improvements are paid for by residents who take out a loan from the Green Deal Finance Company then pay it off through savings to their fuel bills.

The researchers interviewed residents in Leeds, Barnsley, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Dewsbury and Grimsby in community centres, church halls and cafes.

Although more findings are expected following a thorough analysis of their data, the researchers were able to draw out some feedback including:

  • Many residents who do not own their own homes perceive a financial investment in someone else’s property as unfair and illogical.
  • The Green Deal is good for the local supply chains and the economy.
  • Residents are dubious of the role that banks might play in financing the Green Deal.
  • It will boost the energy efficiency market and creates a low carbon future for our building stocks.
  • Confusion between the Green Deal and other Government initiatives, such as solar panels and the feed-in tariff
  • Residents concluded that it is only a matter of time before their Local Authority or Housing Association will fund interventions across all homes under one scheme or another
  • While the financial savings may be significant in time, increased warmth and comfort are immediate and tangible.

Professor Lenny Koh, who led the project, said: “Green Deal is a strategic and important financial scheme to help people to keep their home warm and afford access to energy. Hence, Green Deal will improve quality of life of individuals.

“It is important that the housing stock is made more energy-efficient and the Green Deal is the right scheme to do that. It has a customised element for the assessment and installation process which makes it tailored to the needs of the user.

“People are dealing with Green Deal approved companies so should get an expected high standard of work. It is also sustainable and should only be implemented when it will definitely benefit residents.”

This work was undertaken as part of the BIG Energy Upgrade Programme, a project part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the Yorkshire and Humber Programme 2007 – 2013 and utilised additional funding from the University of Sheffield.

For more information on the Big Energy Upgrade please visit: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/bigenergyupgrade

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