Having been through the Green Deal Assessor training, there are a few issues that I wanted highlight about the assessment process. There were some problems during the training mainly centred around the fact that the Green Deal/ECO is not completely finalised, so there are some gaps in the structure and process that will need to be filled as soon as possible if we are to have even a ‘soft’ launch in October. For full details of the scheme see the DECC website or the Energy Savings Trust. This is a summary of the process, not a complete description.
What was interesting to me about the course was that most of it was spent on how to communicate the Green Deal to householders, not on the technical impact of the Green Deal works themselves. Most current Domestic Energy Assessors don’t really have to communicate with residents of the homes they are assessing, other than to ask them for confirmation of works carried out, so the Green Deal is a massive change in direction for them. It is important that good communication gets across to householders how the Green Deal works and whose job is what in the process. I am unconvinced that most DEA’s are in a position to understand and advice householders on the type of works that are appropriate to their dwelling. The list of potential works is a long one and each one has its own technical challenges. I still feel that a background in surveying/construction/architecture is essential for a full understanding of the technical implications of refurbishment.
The process will work something like this:
A householder contacts a Green Deal Assessor either directly, or through a Green Deal Provider,
a Green Deal provider contacts a householder and proposes an assessment and the householder agrees
a landlord/local authority/3rd party contacts a householder and proposes an assessment
arranges a Green Deal Assessment Visit.
A document is then sent to the householder setting out the purpose of the visit, with an explanation of the Green Deal and how it works, and setting out the information required from the householder during the visit, fuel bills, evidence of any changes since the last EPC was carried out, and a description of their occupancy and lifestyle
Then the Green Deal Assessor(GDA) turns up to do the assessment. The bill payer must be present during the assessment and have agreed to the visit. If there is a landlord, then the landlord must have agreed to the visit, (in writing).
If there is no Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) then the Assessor must produce one using the latest RDSAP to baseline the property. The Green Deal measures are then assessed as improvements on the up-to-date EPC. The first hour of the visit may be taken up with producing the EPC.
Then the Occupancy Assessment is carried out, which is an analysis of how the current householders are living in the home. This assesses the number of people living there, how many baths/showers per week, how they wash/dry clothes, number of fridge/freezers and type of cooking facilities. The recent fuel bills are assessed and this information helps to guide the assessor and householder towards Green Deal measures that will save the occupant money and energy. What is going to be interesting here is how householders react to being asked a number of fairly personal questions by a stranger. How often do you wash! This section may take up to another hour.
Finally the Green Deal measures are evaluated using the Green Deal SAP (GDSAP) software and some scenarios are discussed between the assessor and the householder. These can include fabric measures, such as insulation, replacement windows and draughtproofing, or services changes such as a new boiler. There is a list of measures on the DECC website which has changed many times so far, and will almost certainly change during the life of the Green Deal. A full discussion of any one measure, such as solid wall insulation could take a half-hour easily, and there are 37 measures!
Unhelpfully, the ECO measures are not yet included in this evaluation, not was ther any information about how this will work. It is likely that the ECO measures will be discussed with the householder during the assessment but it is not clear yet how this element will be built into the final report. Clearly it is important that this is finalised soon.
Once the assessor and householder are in agreement on the scenario or scenarios to be evaluated a Green Deal Advice report is produced. This contains the EPC, the Occupancy Assessment, and the Green Deal scenarios discussed, and this can then be passed on to the Green Deal Provider for costing. If the approximate value of the works is over £10,000 then three different quotations must be provided.
It is the Green Deal Providers job to advise on costs and consents for implementation, not the Green Deal Assessors. So if planning permission is required, or if specialist investigations need to be made then those are for the Green Deal Provider to do.
Given the amount of potential discussion and the difficulty of reaching agreement with the householder, there was some discussion whether a second visit would be needed, and in many cases I think that it will. There are simply too many things to discuss. Consider how long it will take the average household to decide what kitchen to buy to replace their current one. Now consider that what the Green Deal may propose is to change the boiler, windows, and to change the external appearance of the property. These are not decisions that any householder will take quickly or lightly, and there is no reason why they should.
The big question that was on everyones minds after the course, is how much should this cost? The answer was mainly between £200-300. If a DEA can carry out four EPC’s at approximately £70 each within the time it takes to do single Green Deal Assessment, then the market should value them accordingly. But will it?
If we get the pricing wrong, and assessors don’t spend the right amount of time with householders, then we won’t get agreement from them and there will be no work for Green Deal providers. A well-paid and competent assessment workforce will be necessary to get the Green Deal working.