The eagerly anticipated independent review – Each Home Counts, conducted by Dr Peter Bonfield, OBE, FREng was published in December 2016.
At Ellipse Energy, we strongly believe the review is really something to celebrate. Not just the fact that it has finally got over the line, but that it recommends some things that need to be delivered.
The scope of the review covered many important issues, including:
- Consumer advice and protection: what supports consumers’ decisions ahead of an installation and what assistance is available when things go wrong?
- Standards framework: what ensures that the right products are fitted to the right properties in the right way during the installation?
- Monitoring and enforcement: what ensures that poor quality work is dealt with effectively, and do the arrangements for audit, compliance-checking and sanctions provide sufficient assurance of this?
We have always understood that when choosing to install energy efficiency or renewable energy measures in their homes, consumers rely on a framework of standards to ensure that they are protected and get a good quality outcome.
The review covers a total of 27 recommendations, but for us the most important five are:
- Quality Mark – the establishment of a single quality mark for all energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, in conjunction with proper oversight of this.
- Development of an Information Hub and Data Warehouse – an information hub for both consumers and industry to be developed for access to best practice on standards and guidance supported by a data warehouse allowing consumers to access better data relating to their homes, thereby leading to better advice.
- New approaches to engaging with consumers – engaging the consumer base on renewables and energy efficiency through awareness raising at local and national levels.
- Embedding core knowledge into the industry – including building physics, design stage and consumer interaction connected with the assessment of competence of businesses.
- Compliance and enforcement regime – robust and joined-up industrywide compliance and enforcement regime coordinated nationally to include on site monitoring or on site audits.
The Quality Mark is a good thing for the industry, but it must have weight. If properly backed by enforcement, then it will work.
The recommendations put a lot of onus on engagement. The previous versions of ECO, RHI and Green Deal were too complex. What engages consumers is simplicity and incentives – this needs to be kept in mind for any Quality Mark, standards or enforcement regime.
As a Technical Director, I fully support the view that standards are central to any energy efficiency scheme and that these standards are nothing without enforcement. The combination of monitoring and enforcement are both welcome, and together with proper training should be the difference. We already provide recognised and robust qualifications for all our staff. Over time better qualifications will mean that enforcement doesn’t become a burden, and consistently high standards are simply accepted as the norm.
These are all part of the same interconnected web of quality, standards, skills, training, delivery, impact and evidence which will, if linked, lead back to quality.
This is what everyone wants – the industry, consumers and policy makers, because this will breed trust in energy efficiency measures.
We are backing the recommendations in the Bonfield Review and the start of a more focused approach to the enormous challenge of retrofitting our built environment.
You can download a full copy of the Bonfield Review here.