Our Green Deal vision will turn the UK into a world-leading energy efficiency market, says Greg Barker

The Green Deal is a coalition flagship policy with the potential to improve millions of homes. This new market will totally reinvigorate energy efficiency demand in this country and upgrade the nation’s draughty homes and office buildings, no matter whether they are owned or rented, and at no upfront cost to the householder or business.

We want to take energy efficiency from the image of dusty loft insulation to cosy living rooms and beautiful homes. This week’s Ecobuild conference in London has been an excellent opportunity to talk to the people who will be making this a reality.

The Green Deal isn’t just “another” government initiative like the Carbon Emission Reduction Target or the Community Energy Saving Programme. This new market will drive the transformation of our housing stock over the next two decades, unlocking innovation, bringing new entrants in to the sector and unleashing much greater competition. This will be critical to meeting our carbon emissions and fuel poverty aims.

There is still more work to be done over the next few months to put the final details in place. However, we are on track and on target to deliver. The first Green Deals will hit the market this autumn, including a range of new offers from new providers and businesses both large and small. It has taken nearly two years of careful work and close consultation with industry, businesses, councils and trade associations to build the Green Deal into something the consumer will trust and a scheme which will ultimately interest people, giving the green economy a shot in the arm in these constrained times.

We’ve enshrined in law the foundations of the Green Deal to make sure the finance system, which is a ground-breaking world first, is a success

The vision for the Green Deal and the new Energy Company Obligation is an ambitious and far-reaching one. It’s a world where the UK leads with a dynamic new energy efficiency market where the consumer is in charge, with nationwide brands, local businesses - especially SMEs - and community organisations competing to deliver the best proposition for the consumer.

You shouldn’t expect a big-bang launch but a strong, steady build-up in the first few months, as firms deploy more resources and more skilled and well-trained professionals join the market. This will be a long-term job stretching all the way into the next decade and beyond as our understanding of new products pushes the boundaries of energy efficiency.

We’ve already done a lot to establish the foundations of the Green Deal. First, to generate demand, we’ve announced £200m of government money for early take-up offers; around 680,000 privately rented homes will be required to be upgraded; and we’re looking at obliging people building extensions to improve the rest of their home to a certain energy-efficient standard at the same time.

Second, to build consumer trust and investor confidence, we’ve enshrined in law the foundations of the Green Deal to make sure the finance system, which is a ground-breaking world first, is a success.

Finally, we’re making sure the workforce can start to get ready and up-skill now. We have created new standards for assessors and installers which will ensure those delivering the Green Deal are competent and have the necessary training and skills. To back this up, we’ve just announced £3.5m to skill up around 2,000 trainees in installation and assessments as well as forming an alliance of Green Deal skills organisations to spearhead training for the plumbers, construction workers, electricians and builders who’ll be needed.

We have now completed our formal consultation on the detail of the Green Deal, which included dozens of stakeholder events and generated more than 600 responses. We are currently working our way through these and taking views from a range of industry groups into account as we develop the scheme. We will then publish our final decisions alongside the detailed secondary legislation, which we hope to have on the statute book by summer recess.

Greg Barker MP is minister for energy and climate change