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Green Deal Assessors

What is a Green Deal Assessor?

The role of a Green Deal Assessor / Adviser (GDA) is one of several new roles resulting from the government's new Green Deal scheme. This major initiative, due to be rolled out in October this year, aims to ensure that buildings are made more energy efficient, thereby reducing carbon emissions and consumer bills. Funding will be available to improve the energy efficiency of both private and commercial buildings, for example by installing or improving insulation, fitting new windows, utilising 'green' heating solutions such air source or ground heat pumps. Crucially, there will be no costs to be paid upfront and previous credit history will not be taken into account, so it is expected that there will be a significant take-up.

However, before funding can be granted, the property must undergo an assessment by an accredited Green Deal Assessor who will make specific recommendations about the improvements to be made. A formal report must be compiled, which will include a range of data about the property. The report format is likely to be an upgraded version of the current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Once the report is submitted, funding can be applied for, and the work carried out by an accredited installer. There are different requirements for private and commercial buildings, therefore assessors will be likely to specialise in one area. The role of GDA will be vital to ensuring that the scheme operates effectively.

How is the Role being Developed?

There has been a significant amount of preparation to ensure that the role of GDA is developed properly and that a proper accreditation scheme is introduced. Working in conjunction with the Green Deal Skills Alliance, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has committed £3m to underwrite development and training costs of Green Deal jobs and CITB-Constructionskills has provided a further £500,000.

Working together with CITB-Constructionskills and Summitskills, Asset Skills (the organisation charged with developing relevant accreditation) has developed an accreditation system based on a series of competencies, to ensure that GDAs can be properly qualified to carry out their role. The DECC has stated that assessors must have "...a mixture of technical knowledge, practical competence and soft skills to provide households and businesses with the advice they need to take informed decisions" and the competencies developed address this wide range of skills.

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) outlines the relevant National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the new role, covering areas which include the principles of the scheme; carrying out the assessment of the property, providing specific advice on energy saving measures and compiling the final report. For example, the unit ASTGDA3 covers how to 'Prepare and Issue Domestic Green Deal (or equivalent programme) Advice Reports'.

Within the unit, there is a variety of performance criteria to be met (e.g. 'P1. assemble and collate information gathered before, during and after your home visit, including any pre-existing Energy Performance Certificate for the property'). Relevant knowledge and understanding is also addressed (e.g. 'K2. You need to know and understand the range of information that is required to produce an accurate and comprehensive Domestic Green Deal (or equivalent programme) Advice Report'. Further details can be found on the National Occupational Standards website.

How Does one Become a Green Deal Assessor?

Naturally, as the scheme is due to be implemented in the autumn, anyone wishing to become a GDA will need to gain accreditation very soon. Now that the relevant QCF and NOS have been defined and a syllabus developed, training courses are available. There will be two routes into the profession; a full training course for those new to the industry or a system of accreditation for those already qualified as Domestic Energy Assessors and Home Inspectors. The latter will be gained through an Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) scheme.

Courses for new entrants range from around three to five days and are likely to cost in the region of £2,000. Some providers are also offering a distance learning option. Conversion courses lasting one or two days are available for those with existing qualifications and fees are in the region of £1,000. Funding of up to £1,000 is available to early applicants to help with fees for a conversion course.

What Happens after Qualification?

In order to be a GDA, it will be necessary to become an 'active member' of an Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) scheme for accreditation, which may vary depending on whether one is accredited for domestic or commercial properties. Arrangements in Scotland are different; one must be a member of an Approved Organisation.

There are then options as to how one operates as a GDA. One option is to be employed by a Green Deal provider or installer. In fact, many companies will arrange for existing employees to gain accreditation for the scheme. It is also possible to be an employee of a public sector organisation, or a third sector (e.g. housing association). However, it is also possible to be an independent GDA, and therefore be employed directly by your customer.

Whichever option is taken, the government has stated clearly that measures will be put in place to ensure ongoing monitoring, and quality assurance will be a feature of remaining an accredited GDA. This is considered an essential requirement for protecting the public from exploitation by unscrupulous operators.