Plan considered amid growing fears that eco-upgrades could damage older housing stock

The government is considering training a cadre of “specialist” Green Deal assessors to deal with traditional homes to combat fears that its eco-upgrade scheme could harm older buildings.

Douglas Kent, technical director of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), said the body is in discussions with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) over the idea. The specialist assessors would be a way of addressing concerns about the impact of the energy savings measures on older homes under the Green Deal.

DECC’s idea is to have a standard Green Deal Assessor, and then a set of specialist assessors for traditional buildings

Douglas Kent, SPAB

Kent is supported by a lobby of traditional buildings experts who say that attaching modern non-porous insulation to breathable solid-wall buildings could lead to damp problems, potentially damaging housing and causing health problems for residents.

Fears over the issue have grown since the government launched a consultation on the working of the Green Deal in November. The Green Deal, designed to help 60,000 homes, would allow for eco-improvements to people’s homes to be paid through a charge on their domestic energy bills, as an incentive.

Under current plans, trained Green Deal assessors will recommend relevant eco-improvements to home-owners. They would not be required to be independent from particular installers, and may not have expertise in all building types.

Almost 20% of the UK’s domestic building stock was built before 1919, and is therefore likely to be affected by the issue.

Kent said: “DECC’s idea [to tackle this] is to have a standard Green Deal Assessor (GDA), and then a set of specialist GDAs for traditional buildings.

DECC seems to be coming round to our point of view, and has asked for our help on this, but we don’t know if it will be taken forward.”

He said that allowing assessors to be affiliated with installers who may be recommending certain technical solutions was “a real retrograde step.” He said: “This builds a manifest conflict of interest in to the model, but DECC doesn’t seem to be open to changing its mind.”

Before Christmas a group of conservation bodies, including SPAB, the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation, hit out at the Green Deal proposals as “seriously flawed”, with recommended measures potentially “extremely harmful.”