Green Deal: political opposition gathers, energy giants waver – but a Midlands business forms coalitions and goes ahead

In April the Telegraph reported that a group of ministers led by George Osborne, the Chancellor, includes Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, Grant Shapps, the housing minister and Chris Grayling, the employment minister, want the Government to abandon the Green Deal.

In June its political correspondent wrote that major energy companies had halted work on the Green Deal project.

In November, ten weeks before the project goes ‘live’, the Telegraph’s headline quotes  the shadow climate change minister  as saying the Green Deal is ‘in tatters’.

However, Midland Business News reports that Britain’s leading Green Deal Advisor company, Brierley Hill-based Green Deal Consulting, has teamed up with two other organisations to spearhead the Government’s huge household energy savings scheme being launched nationwide in the New Year.

To meet demand, the company says it has set up a new training centre in Brierley Hill, providing top-up training for current green deal advisors and four trainee administrators are being taken on for the training centre, under the Government’s apprenticeship scheme. Other staff will be recruited as the organisation expands.

The organisation has signed deals with training organisation PPL, Green Deal Consortia, an association of small businesses, green deal providers, utility companies, other funders and investors, in order to deliver the UK’s Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.

Green Deal Consulting is ready to handle over 1000 energy performance and Green Deal assessments a week and control over 150 specially trained advisors. Managing director, Andy Wynter, said the three-way deal demonstrates commitment to the Government’s scheme, which will mean householders taking advantage of energy-saving work, with no upfront payments. Costs, which cover a range of work, including insulation and central heating boilers, will be recovered through savings on energy bills.

As one installer put it to the Telegraph concisely: “Just to make a couple of things clear… if a homeowner takes out a Green Deal measure/s which qualify for funding, they pay nothing. Their bill goes down. They get cash back”. 

Endnote: Green Deal’s operations director, David Reason says: “This is one of the most ambitious schemes ever undertaken to help householders save energy and running costs. When it is launched in the New Year it will not only result in lowering the country’s energy costs, but create hundreds and possibly thousands of new jobs.”

 

Birmingham Council: reducing fuel poverty and making the city cleaner and greener

News of further progress on the Green Deal front.  

In October the Construction Enquirer reported that Carillion Energy Services had been confirmed as preferred bidder by Birmingham City Council on a £600m retrofitting deal to improve energy efficiency for 60,000 homes.

The Birmingham Energy Savers scheme will see Carillion install energy efficiency measures like insulation and new boilers by 2020 in homes, schools and other council properties under this eight-year deal.

Under the Green Deal scheme, payment for improvements will be recovered in instalments through lower energy bills.

Carillion’s Chief Executive Richard Howson said: “Birmingham Energy Savers is a genuinely ground-breaking contract and we are delighted to be named as Birmingham City Council’s preferred delivery partner.

Energy minister Greg Barker’s comment: “Birmingham City Council is really taking the lead in reducing fuel poverty and making Birmingham cleaner and greener. The Green Deal will be a vital tool in helping the City reach its ambitious targets, allowing people to get energy efficient upgrades to their home and save money in the process. The funding we have given Birmingham will help kick-start the Green Deal and I’m excited by the Council’s plans to transform buildings and save energy.”

Dave Allport, Programme Manager for Birmingham Energy Savers, has now announced that on November 27th a ‘truly ground breaking’ contract between Birmingham City Council and Carillion Energy Services (CES) Ltd was signed, adding:

“This is a significant milestone in growing the green economy in Birmingham, tackling fuel poverty and reducing CO2 emissions”.

He thanked all those involved in developing bid documents, evaluating responses, engaging in dialogue, arranging stakeholder events, scoring submissions . . . adding the words of a senior legal partner:

“I’ve been involved in the procurement and development of over 80 public private partnership, but have never witnessed such a successful focus on building social values into the contract and a commitment from both parties to creating real local benefits”.

 

 

The Birmingham Green New Deal pilot will ‘go national’ in October

The “Green New Deal” – public and private investment to create “green collar” jobs to make UK buildings energy efficient already underway in Birmingham, will ‘go national’ in October.

Birmingham City Council’s Birmingham Energy Savers (BES) scheme has already enabled more than1,000 homes and other council buildings to benefit from environmentally-friendly retrofit work including energy saving measures such as solar panels.

Guardian columnist Anne Karpf described the GND as being probably the nearest modern equivalent to the Lucas Aerospace plan.

Four decades ago, Lucas Aerospace shop stewards proposed a green way out of recession, drawing up “an alternative corporate plan for socially useful and environmentally desirable production”, but were not given political or corporate support.

Will it be different this time?

We read that Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, met Council Leader Sir Albert Bore, members of the BES team and officials from other local authorities.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City, said: “The foundations for a green revolution have been laid in Birmingham, but now is the time to accelerate the pace of change.  The benefits we can reap are huge. The Minister saw for himself the work we have done on the BES Scheme, and the ways in which it is helping cut emissions, moving families out of fuel poverty and creating employment opportunities – making it something all individual households, public bodies and local businesses should consider getting involved with”.

As Anne Karpf says, like the Lucas workers at a time of recession and redundancy, the Green New Deal Group has presented an urgently needed, socially useful and environmentally sustainable alternative to the situation facing us.

Green New Deal, piloted in Birmingham, now advocated Europe-wide

The Green New Deal Group inspired Jon Morris of Localise West Midlands, a thinktank promoting local supply chains for sustainability, and Matthew Rhodes [far right] of low-carbon solutions engineering firm Encraft to present the award-winning business plan, developed and championed by Keith Budden [left] of the Birmingham Environment Partnership. This was the foundation for the City Council’s Birmingham Energy Savers scheme.

As EU leaders gather around the German Chancellor’s dinner table to discuss austerity versus growth, Colin Hines, LWM’s co-founder and convenor of the Green New Deal Group, sent a press release about a discussion paper Help Save Europe With A Green New Deal makes the case for crucial new topics and solutions to be put at the top of their menu.

Read more on http://ourbirmingham.org/?p=1679

Birmingham Social Enterprise Energy Network – open AGM

You are invited to attend an open AGM of Birmingham Social Enterprise Energy Network (b-seen) on Tuesday 3 April 2012 at 10am. Jenny Howarth from Birmingham Energy Savers/Buy For Good will be attending and will give a brief update on BES. Keith Budden from E-ON will also be attending. Birmingham City Council have invited all the BES bidders to attend.

B-seen is a network of social enterprises trading in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy. All with an interest in energy efficiency, fuel poverty or renewable energy are welcome to attend.

Agenda:

1. Welcome and apologies
2. Minutes and matters arising
3. Accounts
4. Election of board
5. Open discussion: Green Deal, CESP and ECO – what opportunities are there for social enterprises in Birmingham? Including report backs from current projects (LEAF, Stay Warm Stay Well).

The meeting will be held at Jericho Foundation, 196-198 Edward Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 9LX. Buses: 35, 50, 1A/1C. Bike parking: lamp-posts or bike stands on corner of Edward Rd/Cheddar Rd. Car parking: Free, on-street.

RSVP to book your place.


Phil Beardmore
Localise West Midlands
0779 183 9025
philbeardmore@virginmedia.com

iSE & LWM win LEAF funding to support social enterprises on household energy-saving agenda

Press Release – For immediate release: 15th February 2012, Birmingham, UK

Two BIRMINGHAM based social businesses, iSE and Localise West Midlands (LWM), are celebrating their success in winning national funding from LEAF.  This funding will resource 10 locally based social enterprises to engage in the energy saving agenda that will result in local householders saving money through energy efficiency.

LEAF (Local Energy Assessment Fund), a national fund managed by the Energy Saving Trust, is intended to be used to support the understanding of energy efficiency issues at a local level.  The BIRMINGHAM programme is one of only 200 awarded across the country. iSE and LWM are delighted to have resources to address issues in BIRMINGHAM of fuel poverty and low energy efficiency in many of the city’s households.

This funding has been made available as the Government gears itself up for the delivery of the Green Deal, the first scheme of its kind in the world around radically overhauling the energy efficiency of millions of homes across the UK.  Sarah Crawley, CEO of iSE, said “our work will enable BIRMINGHAM residents to have a better understanding of Green Deal and what energy efficiency measures they can take advantage of.”

Phil Beardmore from Localise West Midlands said “with LEAF funding, social enterprises will have a better understanding of the energy efficiency issues affecting their area and they will be able to help local people to save money and energy.”

Contact 

Name: Sarah Crawley    Tel: 0121 771 1411            Name: Phil Beardmore Tel: 07791 839025

 

iSE C.I.C

 

Avoca Court, 23 Moseley Road, Digbeth, Birmingham, B12 0HJ

 

Telephone: 0121 771 1411 Fax: 0121 771 1421 Email: sarah@i-se.co.uk Website: www.i-se.co.uk

www.localisewestmidlands.org.uk

How to create a stable society

On the dust cover of *The Constant Economy, Jonathon Porritt asserts that Business-as–Usual economics, which is denying billions any chance of a decent life, has become a security blanket that our politicians won’t let go. 

The author, now a Conservative MP, calls for decisions about the sort of economy we want to develop from the ashes of this recession: 

“There is an alternative: a constant economy. A constant economy is one in which resources are valued not wasted, where food is grown sustainably and goods are built to last. It is a system whose energy security is based on the use of renewable sources, and where strong communities are valued as a country’s most effective hedge against social, economic and environmental instability. The constant economy operates at the human scale and, above all, it recognises nature’s limits.” 

Ten steps [chapters] measure what matters: power to the people, the precautionary principle, food quality, food security, saving our seas, an energy revolution, getting around, building to last, a zero-waste economy and playing our part. 

Invest in the new green economy . . . 

In Green New Deal mode, he says that instead of struggling to return to the conditions that delivered the recession, we can stimulate the development of a cleaner, greener and less wasteful economy. 

With the right encouragements, whole sectors could flip. UK pension funds control about £860 billion. Imagine the impact if they chose to invest it in the new green economy? 

Government signals 

Critics of the environmental agenda claim that a green economy would cost hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of pounds – but they are confusing cost with investment. One hundred units invested in improving the energy efficiency of a local school, and saving twenty units each year thereafter, represents a hugely rewarding investment opportunity. And there is no need for net tax increases to pay for this – it simply requires bullish signals from government. 

If a proper cost is attached to pollution and waste, businesses will minimize both. And if the funds raised from taxing these activities are used as incentives, there will be a dramatic movement of money towards the kinds of investments and activities we need.

Today’s challenge 

In 1945 the disaster of war created new priorities and a pioneering welfare state was built; today the impending ecological disaster poses another challenge, but the country needs leadership from its politicians, who will not provide it unless we – the electorate – send them a clear message. 

Jonathon urges: “so try it guys!” 

The Green New Dealers and those working towards a coalition for a better economy intend to do just that!” 

 

 

*The Constant Economy: how to create a stable society, Zac Goldsmith, Atlantic Books 2009 – see http://www.constanteconomy.com/

Birmingham Energy Savers – consultation event 6-7 Feb

Invitation letter from Birmigham City Council posted here for ease of reference.

Karen

January 2012

Dear Colleague

Re: Birmingham Energy Savers, Aim High, and Green Deal Consultation Event

Community and Transition Groups .

Birmingham Energy Savers (BES) is an award winning programme within Birmingham City Council which has so far fitted photovoltaic (PV) panels to the roofs of over 1,000 properties in order to reduce fuel poverty and CO² emissions.  It’s main purpose, however, is to establish the Birmingham Energy Savers – Green Deal programme.  Green Deal is a government led initiative (currently under consultation) which will enable households and businesses to install packages of energy saving technologies, e.g. insulation, at no upfront cost; making properties more fuel efficient straight away with repayments made over time from reduced energy bills.

We would like to invite you to an event at The Council House [Committee Rooms 3+4] Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB, on Monday 6th February 2012 9.30-11.30 am or Tuesday evening 7th February 7.00-9.00 pm to exploreand discuss issues that may influence the shape of BES and the Green Deal as we approach its projected launch in the Autumn of 2012.

We would like to share with you where we are in our planning and procurement process and discuss how you can be involved.  Topic discussions will include:

  • How we should market Green Deal in Birmingham to ensure maximum take-up;
  • How your organisation can support and promote the Green Deal in Birmingham – and derive benefits from doing so;
  • How Green Deal can help to address Fuel poverty;
  • How we can, together, overcome potential barriers to participation in disadvantaged communities;
  • How Green Deal can support other community initiatives.

We very much hope you [or a colleague] are able to attend and look forward to fruitful, constructive discussions on the day.

To secure a place, please send an email confirming your preferred session date, time and attendee(s) name to energysavers@birmingham.gov.uk by Friday 27th January 2012.

Yours faithfully

Dave Allport

for the

Birmingham Energy Savers Team

Our government co-operates to further the corporate desire for the cheapest labour

Building up resilience: economic, social and environmental 

In March BBC News reported that Sir John Holmes, former emergency relief co-ordinator at the UN, welcomed Lord Ashdown’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Review commissioned by DFID – particularly the point about “building up resilience of countries before disasters happen – that’s absolutely crucial and we don’t do enough of that”.

 Both ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries are vulnerable. 

The current globalised system has created vulnerability, not resilience; a large set of countries, both rich and poor, are dependent on others for their food and energy. They are ‘import-dependent’ – a term usually applied only to the developing ‘two-thirds world’. 

The Global Risks Report 2011 from the World Economic Forum outlines the risks and Chris Arkenberg’s review of its message comments starkly: 

Elites consolidate more money & power, further driving disparity and eroding governance. What results is an interstitial vacuum where corporate intervention fails to see any profit motive and where state intervention lacks the funds or will to govern effectively. 

In effect, the combination of super-empowered non-state actors, failures of state governance, and widespread economic disparity undermines the Rule of Law by releasing elites from accountability . . .

Is vulnerability an economic opportunity? 

Whether this has been a deliberate strategy to ensure profits for the few or due simply to short-sighted greed – it should be changed. 

The damaging corporate desire for the cheapest labour 

Another damaging feature of globalisation is the mass movement – legal or illegal – of the poorest peoples, to serve the corporate desire for the cheapest labour, as the economically weakest, largely unemployed 10% of the host nation, fumes. 

The only prescription seen by the writer which addresses this uneasy dependent fragility appears in a book by the convenor of the Green New Deal Group, Colin Hines: LOCALIZATION: A GLOBAL MANIFESTO, Earthscan:

The basic steps to be introduced, over a suitable transition period, are: 

  • Reintroduction of protective safeguards for domestic economies (tariffs, quotas etc);  
  • a site-here-to-sell-here policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally; 
  • localising money so that the majority stays within its place of origin; 
  • enforcing a local competition policy to eliminate monopolies from the more protected economies; 
  • introduction of resource taxes to increase environmental improve­ments and help fund the transition to Protect the Local, Globally;
  • increased democratic involvement both politically and economi­cally to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies; 
  • reorientation of the end goals of aid and trade rules so that they contribute to the rebuilding of local economies and local control, particularly through the global transfer of relevant information and technology.

Hines explains:  

“A Protect the Local, Globally policy is neither anti-trade nor totally self-sufficient). Its goal is maximum local trade, within diver­sified sustainable local economies, and minimum long-distance trade. Local is used here to mean a part of a country, and a `regional’  geographic grouping of countries. 

“Such a dramatic turnaround in the direction of the international economy could not just occur in one country. To take on the powerful international forces of international capital and TNCs would require these policies to be introduced, for example, EU-wide or in the whole of North America. 

“Even the debate about considering such an approach would reverberate internationally at this time of global economic insecurity. 

“Once introduced even just in Europe or North America, it would set an example and would almost certainly engender similar approaches in other regions of the world.” 

Birmingham – capital of community action on climate change

Birmingham’s Carbon Saving report for 2010/11 shows not only that the city surpassed its target but also highlights the critical role of the third sector as a mainstream deliverer of CO2 savings in the city alongside the private and public sectors.

There was a time when it was common for mainstream agencies to manipulate community and voluntary organisations by relying on them to act as a free marketing channel for philanthropic gestures.  The third sector was stuck firmly on the bottom rung of the Ladder of Empowerment. Now we are moving towards a co-production approach, where schemes such as Birmingham Energy Savers increasingly understand the ability of the third sector to not only gain the trust of residents in energy efficiency and renewable energy schemes, but to deliver a number of wider social and economic outcomes in the process, such as financial inclusion, employment support to people excluded from the labour market, and community cohesion.

It’s not just in delivery that the third sector excels.  Localise West Midlands played a crucial role in introducing the Green New Deal concept to Birmingham, leading to the development of the Birmingham Energy Savers model.

The only downside of this story is that up to now, only a small minority of third sector organisations in Birmingham have understood the business opportunity around schemes such as Birmingham Energy Savers.  Any organisation that can engage with people of any background could potentially benefit from this opportunity.