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Part public funded & quasi non-governmental organisations (QUANGO)

A number of quasi non-governmental organisations (QUANGOs) have a significant role in facilitating the low carbon energy transition, with many having a particular focus on buildings (Table 1). However the 2010 coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review for the UK saw significant curtailment of state funding for these groups (Treasury, 2010), in what was termed by many the ‘bonfire of the Quangos’ (Flinders et al., 2014). This has also reflected a growing appetite for reduced direct state funding for energy efficiency (Kern et al., Unpublished) and microgeneration (Finney et al., 2012). Some organisations such as the BRE were originally under direct state control, and since privatisation have increasingly diversified their activities into more commercially lucrative ventures. This is also evident in the business models of the EST and the Carbon trust, although at present there seems scant academic literature on the impact this has had on the activities of these groups. The Climate Change Committee remains the only one of the organisations listed below whose income stream remains almost entirely from central government. A list of these groups can be found in Table 1.

Table 1 Key QUANGO organisationsOrganisationSector/StructureBrief descriptionRelevant roles/ activitiesBuilding Research Establishment (BRE)Formally central Government privatised 1997

(owned by the BRE Trust, a charitable organization)Expert, impartial research, knowledge and advice for the built environment sector and beyond.

BRE helps government, industry and business to meet the challenges of our built environmentResponsible for research and policy design for national initiatives relating to energy and buildings.

Provides professional consultancy services to the building industry

  1. Accreditation and testing

  2. Training

Design and accreditation of sustainability standards

  1. Building regulations


  3. Code for sustainable homes

  4. Passivhaus (Assessment services and training)Energy Saving Trust (EST)Social enterprise, and also has a charitable foundation

Funding reduced under 2010 CoalitionEstablished in 1992, the EST’s main goals are to achieve the sustainable use of energy and to cut carbon dioxide emissions, largely with a UK focus

Services include

  1. Free advice, information, and action plans

  2. Grants and grant-finding advice

  3. Energy-saving certification, assurance, and accreditation services

  4. Independent and authoritative research, and policy analysis

  5. Management or delivery of government programs[

  6. Testing of low-carbon technology

  7. Development of energy-efficient models and tools[

Carbon Trust

not-for-dividend limited company

Funding reduced under 2010 CoalitionCreated in 2001, have developed into a world-leading and trusted expert in low carbon issues and sustainable strategies, environmental foot printing and low carbon technology development and deployment.

  1. Advice :governments, funding bodies, businesses, and public sector organisations across the globe on their opportunities and risks in a sustainable, low carbon economy

  2. Environmental Foot printing : measure and certify the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services, in particular carbon, waste and water

  3. Technology :develop and deploy low carbon technologies; from utility scale renewable energy infrastructure projectsThe Committee on Climate Change (CCC)Government fundedThe Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Its purpose is to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets and report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change.Responsible for UK Carbon Budgets

Publications including

·         New focus on solid wall insulation in the supplier obligation while still allowing some loft and cavity wall insulation

·         Simplification of the Carbon Reduction Commitment

·         Heat strategy focused on heat pumps and district heatingZero Carbon Hub (ZCH)Government FundedThe Zero Carbon Hub was established in 2008, as a non-profit organisation,to take day-to-day operational responsibility for achieving the government’s target of delivering zero carbon homes in England from 2016. Since then the Hub has worked with both government and industry with the focus on raising build standards and reducing the risk associated with implementing the Zero Carbon Homes policy.

Future unclear as a result of governments Productivity Plan announcementsActivities include:

  1. Developing the technical definition of a zero carbon home.

  2. Carbon Compliance (kgCO2/m2)

  3. Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES)

  4. Allowable Solutions Mechanism

  5.  Commissioning and carrying out research.

  6. Providing advice on managing the unintended consequences of building more energy efficient homes.

  7. Providing guidance and information through publications.

  8. Hosting events to create forums for discussion.

  9. Updating the wider industry on changes to government policy.

  10. Creating exemplar profiles to highlight innovative solutions which could be incorporated in whole-house energy solutions


FINNEY, K. N., SHARIFI, V. N. & SWITHENBANK, J. 2012. The negative impacts of the global economic downturn on funding decentralised energy in the UK. Energy Policy, 51, 290-300.

FLINDERS, M., DOMMETT, K. & TONKISS, K. 2014. Bonfires and Barbecues: Coalition Governance and the Politics of Quango Reform. Contemporary British History, 28, 56-80.

KERN, F., KIVIMAA, P. & MARTISKAINEN Unpublished. Energy efficiency policy mixes: The case of buildings in Finland and the UK.

TREASURY, H. 2010. Spending Review 2010 – Executive Summary. In: TREASURY, H. (ed.). London.

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