As someone working in the UK solar industry you will be aware that Government’s flagship energy policy, the Green Deal, will be encroaching on your territory soon. And, since this is yet another new area of business many are, understandably, concerned about the impact this mechanism will have on their current work – but fear not. If you’re a qualified energy assessor or home inspector, or if you know someone who is, you could easily add a Green Deal string to your bow.

What is the Green Deal?

Due to be launched in October this year, the Green Deal has been designed as an incentive to give UK home and business owners the prompt they need to reduce their carbon emissions. The policy enables the installation of a range of Green Deal measures, which are implemented at no upfront cost. Payments are then taken directly from savings on the energy bill over the chosen technology’s lifetime. A more detailed description of how this works can be read here.

But, before anyone enters into a Green Deal plan, their building must first be reviewed for suitability by a Green Deal assessor.

What is a Green Deal assessor?

The Green Deal assessor holds the key to the gateway of the Green Deal. No one will have access to this scheme without a qualifying assessment of the building and recommendations for measures that could improve the energy efficiency of their home, so the assessor’s role is of vital importance.

The job is two-fold: trained Green Deal assessors are also Green Deal advisors. The assessment and accompanying advice must be carried out by a qualified and authorised advisor, who will have a mixture of technical knowledge, practical competence and other relevant skills to provide households and businesses with the advice they need to make informed decisions when considering installing energy efficient measures.

Domestic buildings

When entering a consumer’s home, the Green Deal assessor will need to assess the fabric of the building in order to work out how they could improve the level of energy performance certificate (EPC). Their second job will be to make an occupancy assessment in order to analyse and advise how the property is used.

Non-domestic buildings

For non-domestic buildings, the process will be slightly different. Here, the assessment will build upon the existing SBEM methodology for producing an EPC: taking into account the way the existing occupants use the building as well as allowing the default EPC assumptions to be changed to better reflect actual building-use patterns. The non-domestic assessment will also look at energy management practices, fuel tariff information and historical energy consumption data.

How do I become accredited?

If you’re already a member of an accredited Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), Accreditation Scheme for either Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) or Non-Domestic Energy Assessors (NDEAs) then the Green Deal accreditation process will not be a difficult one.

Those thinking of working in Scotland will need to have obtained membership of an Approved Organisation which has been appointed by Scottish Ministers in the production of domestic or non-domestic EPCs.

There will be several certification bodies in charge of accrediting Green Deal assessors, and they need to work in line with a Green Deal Scheme Standard. The United Kingdom Accreditation service (UKAS), has been appointed to independently accredit these certification bodies.

The assessment of organisations on the roll-out programme will commence in May 2012.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is also working with Asset Skills to develop National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Green Deal Advisors and a publicly-available syllabus that will provide more detail on the role. The NOS will be used to develop qualifications and training to be launched later this year.

Getting started

Once you’ve decided that you want to be a Green Deal assessor, and have gained the necessary accreditation, you’ll need to do one of three things before you can get going:

  1. Get a job as a salaried employee or sub-contractor of an existing Green Deal provider or installer,
  2. Register as a self-employed assessor
  3. Work alongside a public sector official or representative of a civil society organisation, funded (or self-funded) to deliver Green Deal assessments

The choice you make at this stage will also determine how you are paid as a Green Deal assessor. Government has decided that the most flexible approach to payment of assessors and the price of the assessment is to let the market decide. We’re assuming this means that nothing is yet set in stone, and we expect more details on this later in the year.

What happens next?

With the Green Deal due to launch from October this year, many are beginning to ramp up their Green Deal plans. Government has recently published a list of 20 prospective Green Deal providers, and stands by its autumn launch and many are beginning to sign prospective assessors up for training this summer. In fact, Asset Skills is working with DECC to train 'go early' Green Deal Assessors by opening the channel for this qualification from July. Training will take between three and five months, and funding is available to assist those who need it. Asset Skills has received £1 million to ensure that there are at least 1,000 qualified Green Deal Assessors ready for the launch of Green Deal. This is part of a £3.5 million fund secured to raise awareness of the training needed to be sure advisors and installers are fully accredited to secure work under the new policy.

If you’re interested in the Green Deal and want to know more about how you can get involved make sure you keep an eye on the Solar Power UK 2012 event website for updates on the Green Deal seminar.

Solar Power UK 2012 will be held from October 2-4 at the NEC in Birmingham.