The report on the Bonfield Review – formally titled ‘Each Home Counts’ – was finally published on 16th December 2016. It includes 27 recommendations on how industry and government can collaborate to support the establishment of a new ‘quality mark’ for domestic energy efficiency retrofit.
It appears to be based around two key strategic objectives:
- To boost demand for energy efficiency measures from consumers by improving trust in the industry
- To reduce risks for private finance to encourage them to offer finance packages (based on the belief that there are large private investors looking to increase lending to the sector)
Thus it proposes the development of a framework to support the market that will be led (and presumably largely funded) by industry, with government intervention only where necessary to create the conditions that will enable the market to flourish.
Despite a range of new acronyms, many of the components sound similar to those that were established for the Green Deal, including:
- A Consumer Charter to protect customers, a Code of Conduct for companies and Codes of Practice for each measure
- The requirement for all companies operating in the sector (installers, designers and assessors) to be certified by an approved certification body
- Implementation overseen by an Implementation Board (already established) and a Strategic Governance Board, with a Service Organisation to carry out day-to-day activities, including the Framework Operating Requirements.
However, it is encouraging that there is more emphasis on a number of aspects that should support best practice, including:
- The inclusion of an appropriate design stage process
- An holistic approach to the identification of suitable measures that considers the home, its local environment, heritage, occupancy, and the householders’ improvement objectives
- A ‘Single Promise Guarantee’ to cover product, design and installation
- A quality assurance framework that includes unannounced site checks
- A consistent and fair redress process, with a single point of contact for consumers
There is also recognition for the importance of impartial advice and the report proposes that this should be supported by an ‘Information Hub’ (for general information and guidance) and a ‘Data Warehouse’ (for property-specific information, e.g. EPC data).
It is expected that it will take two years to establish the framework but it is hoped that the new ECO scheme from April 2018 will be aligned with this. The next stage is to prepare implementation plans (Jan-Apr 2017) and feedback on the report is sought (by 31/01/17).
Much detail remains to be defined, including many of the aspects that will be of particular interest to energy assessors and former Green Deal Advisors (such as the advice processes, qualifications required, changes needed to the EPC, etc.).