The Department of Energy & Climate Change has recently issued new guidance to help local authorities in England improve the energy efficiency of their residential housing.  The guidance, issued under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA), requires local authorities to publish a report on their plans to achieve improved energy efficiency by 31 March 2013.

The guidance recognises that delivering ambitious carbon reduction plans and addressing fuel poverty can only be achieved with the full participation of local authorities as they are particularly well placed to champion the changes required, stimulate activity to meet specific local needs and support their wider strategic priorities.

Local authorities will therefore be required to identify practicable and cost-effective measures likely to result in significant energy reduction in all residential accommodation in their area.  In particular, local authorities will need to have regard to:

  • local energy efficiency ambitions and priorities.  It may be the case that a local authority already has, or is developing, local plans to improve significantly the energy efficiency of residential accommodation in its area and these existing plans may therefore form the basis of its response to the HECA
  • the measures that take advantage of financial assistance and other benefits offered from central Government initiatives, such as the Green Deal, ECO and RHI, to help result in significant energy efficiency improvements of residential accommodation
  • the measures which a local authority has developed to implement energy efficiency improvements cost-effectively in residential accommodation by using area based/street by street roll-out involving local communities and partnerships (e.g. social housing partners, voluntary organisations and town/parish councils).

The obligation itself is not as significant as it might have been but rather than see this as a burden there are significant opportunities for you as a local authority and for the local economy.

Bevan Brittan has market leading experience in Green Deal and ECO as it is the firm advising on the only significant Green Deal procurement in the market. We are advising Birmingham City Council on their procurement of a Green Deal delivery partner, under competitive dialogue, and seeking a preferred bidder by October. We have therefore seen the issues, many possible solutions as to how energy efficiency can be delivered and been involved with many potential and actual private sector bidders. As DECC continues to clarify issues we are addressing how these can be implemented on a live project.

We are working with a number of other clients on alternative models (for example, the Birmingham OJEU names 40 other contracting authorities who may engage with the selected partner in different ways) and how best to encourage energy efficiency take up. We would be delighted to share our ideas with you or help review any current proposals as to how you might report on HECA.

Many authorities are seeing the obligations in this area as an opportunity to boost economic activity and a focus can reasonably be placed on how the private sector may support your social, economic and corporate objectives.

Please contact us if  you would like to know more about how our experience may help you in responding to the HECA requirements and more generally to consider your strategy around energy efficiency (of which Green Deal and ECO offer the most immediate opportunities).

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