Industry groups say minimum standards for homes would encourage retrofitting and provide certainty

The government appears to have ruled out using regulation to encourage Green Deal retrofitting, defying advice from most industry groups who believe minimum standards are essential if the energy efficiency drive is to work.

Speaking at green building conference, Ecobuild, yesterday, climate change minister Greg Barker said that setting basic energy standards for homes would upset people.

“I can’t think of a quicker way to piss off more people and turn people away from the agenda,” he said.

“I want to start the Green Deal off by saying this is a huge opportunity, not standing there with a stick behind my back scowling,” he said.

The UK Green Building Council, the WWF and the CBI have all argued that regulation could be necessary if the government is to refurbish all 26m homes by 2050.

Other incentives, including reductions in stamp duty, council tax rebates and VAT reductions for renewable products are all on the table in advance of the Budget later this month, said Barker.

Paul Morrell, the government’s chief construction adviser, also said that regulation was needed to green the built environment but did not think the government had the political will to impose it.

“A government can’t be far ahead of the electorate, and it doesn’t feel it has permission,” he said.

Barker however did say that regulation could be used if the “market fails” to retrofit homes under the Green Deal, but did not give any indication when that point might be reached.