What is ECO and why does it matter to me?

Jan 20, 2020, 15:25 PM by Polly Buckland

ECO is the Energy Company Obligation and while we have recently seen it laid in parliament, it is nothing new. Initially created back in 2013, the ECO scheme  was created to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty.

The scheme runs in phases

ECO1 was about delivering energy efficiency measures to domestic premises. There were three primary obligations under ECO1 which energy companies were required to meet. The obligations were the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO), the Carbon Saving Community Obligation (CSCO) and the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO). CSCO also had a sub-obligation focused on rural areas (the CSCO rural sub-obligation). 


Under ECO2, suppliers were required to achieve the following cost and carbon savings - 19.7 Mt CO2 under CERO, 6 Mt CO2 under CSCO and £6.46 billion under HHCRO. ECO2 was extended until the 30th September 2018, at which point ECO3 took over, and the extension was called ECO2t. 

ECO3 - breaking it down

ECO3 requires TrustMark Registered Business carrying out the relevant work on any energy-related improvements in and around the home. 

It doesn't just affect tradespeople though, homeowners and tenants themselves are affected by ECO3.Ias all work related to energy efficiency in their home will have to be lodged by the tradesperson in a central repository, the Data Warehouse. 

In light of these changes, new roles have been created to ensure that all work is compliant and carried out effectively. All roles fall under the umbrella of ‘Retrofit’ as follows: Retrofit Advisor, Retrofit Assessor, Retrofit Coordinator, Retrofit Designer and a Retrofit Evaluator. 

Training for these roles has been developed and ties in with qualification/accreditation from other awarding bodies/assessment schemes. A full view of the new roles created can be viewed here. 

Linking PAS and ECO

ECO, the Energy Company Obligation is designed to hold obligated energy suppliers accountable for helping eligible customers reducing their energy bills and in turn the carbon emissions from their homes.

ECO isn't just a standalone obligation; it's underpinned by two key technical standards know as Publicly Available Specifications (PAS).

PAS 2030:2019 is the new industry specification to replace PAS 2030:2017 and is inextricably linked to PAS 2035: 2019. PAS 2030 is the standard to which all energy efficiency installers must be certificated and compliant. 

PAS 2035:2019 is the new overarching document in the retrofit standards framework. It specifies a holistic approach to the retrofitting of dwellings, better defining qualification and responsibility of the individual retrofit roles and the respective activities required prior to the commencement of the physical installation.

If you are a PAS certificated tradesperson who is not yet registered for TrustMark membership and wants to carry out work under ECO3, you should start the process.

If you are already TrustMark registered, then you will need to claim your portal as this is the only way you will be able access the Data Warehouse, please claim your portal here

For more information on how to work with ECO3 as a trader, please see here

Lodging work and locating information

The Data Warehouse sits within our Business Portal for tradespeople to access. As of January 2020, we are running a beta phase and hope to have applied our beta discoveries by Q2 2020. 

This will also be where you lodge work and where any Retrofit job roles will be able to see their relevant sections. It is under ECO3 that all work has to be lodged and there is a small fee of £8 attached to each lodgement. 

The Property Passport will be found in the consumer portal, which you can sign up for here: https://www.trustmark.org.uk/login and we hope to have live in 2020. 

Understanding the timeline

While ECO3 was mandated in government in October 2019, there is a transition period between 30/06/19 to 30/06/21 to allow for  industry to transition to full implementation of PAS 2035 in accordance with Annex B of the TrustMark Framework Operating Requirements.

This does mean that as of 1st January 2020 all ECO3 work must be completed by a TrustMark Registered Business. 

Highlighting the importance of ECO

The importance of this cannot be emphasised highly enough. Phil Mason, Head of Compliance at TrustMark said, "Since its inception, we know that the ECO scheme has made thousands of qualifying people's homes more comfortable, more economical and healthier to live in while reducing the amount of carbon created in the production of energy they use. However, we also know that some ECO funded energy efficiency retrofit has resulted in negative effects on people and property; likewise, that some businesses have exploited the scheme then simply disappeared. The TrustMark registration and the lodgement of work into the Data Warehouse have been included in the ECO requirements to drive visibility of who does what, where and when. This information will then be used in turn to monitor standards, analyse trends and examine root-causes to drive up knowledge within the sector and increase accountability where necessary."

"TrustMark isn't here to create ECO policy, but we do have a role in supporting its application and will use our findings going forward for continuous improvement to benefit consumers and the delivery sector in general. Getting it right first-time creates a better customer experience, cuts delivery costs, and improves the viability of the scheme and opportunities for business."

Understanding how PAS 2035:2019 will impact upon the way that businesses will deliver energy efficiency retrofit is key.  Whilst a transition phase has been agreed, which expires on 30th June 2021, PAS 2035 requirements will be widely adopted for all energy efficiency retrofit work under the TrustMark standard after that date. 

What should I do next?

In order to become a Retrofit Advisor, Assessor, Coordinator, Designer or an Evaluator, there are various steps to follow. The various qualification options are available here

To become TrustMark registered, please find a Scheme Provider relevant to your trade and register through them. 

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