Archive for July, 2008

Prompted by a conversation Nick and I were having this morning, it’s worth pointing out that the 28 day rule originally brought in with NETA has been switched off on a trial basis. On the assumption that consumers are now more savvy and able to look out for themselves, it’s now possible to lock yourself into an agreement with an energy supplier without the ability to switch for the term of the contract. Longer contracts and more certainty means that suppliers can potentially offer more attractive terms but of course caveat emptor still applies.

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Love them or hate them, liquid biofuels are increasingly being put forward as a renewable fuel for CHP. Currently they’re eligible for ROCs and so appear to be considered renewable by BERR and OFGEM.

But when I spoke to the SAP team at BRE, not only did they confirm that liquid biofuels aren’t considered under SAP, they also said that “because of mounting doubts over the extent of emissions from biofuels”, you have to use the emissions factor for oil when carrying out your SAP calcs. Did they expect the treatment of biofuels to change for the 2010 review of SAP? Adamantly, they did not.

Then I called the BREEAM helpline. They told me that liquid biofuels also aren’t considered under the Code for Sustainable Homes. So no help in scoring points under ENE1 or ENE7.

So liquid biofuel CHP is eligible for ROCs but will do little for your Part L and Code requirements. Without achieving these requirements, the case for biofuel CHP for new buildings is severely undermined. Obviously this situation could change. With CLG on the lookout for ways to meet the 2016 zero carbon homes target, there might be considerable pressure applied in favour of making biofuel renewable under SAP. But for now the official line is that biofuels are not a solution for carbon reduction in new build.

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The UKGBC is launching plans for a Code for Sustainable Buildings to “address the confusion arising from the myriad of different green building standards.” Although they’ve used the name, this isn’t the same Code for Sustainable Buildings that we were promised a few years back and that was eventually pared down into the Code for Sustainable Homes. This is an “open-source” UKGBC-managed standard which could then be used in other standards.

Reading between the lines, the UKGBC have just pre-empted a situation in which BREEAM is adopted wholesale as the basis of a future Code for non-residential buildings (a situation like we saw with EcoHomes and the CfSH). It looks to me like they’re looking to usurp BRE’s place as guardian’s of the public interest when it comes to building performance and I suspect the use of the words “open-source” is a stinging reference to BRE’s increasingly mercenary approach. So take that BRE – you’ve just been King-slapped.

Or am I just looking for drama on an otherwise dull Tuesday?

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Developers are taking a hard look at their pipelines in an effort to find savings and many projects are grinding to a halt. Redrow, Taylor Wimpey, Bovis, Barratts, Persimmon – each laying off thousands from their workforce. There’s no doubt that the credit crunch is taking a deep bite out of the construction sector. In addition, oil and energy prices are exacerbating the situation, rising continuously for the foreseeable future.

All this comes at a time when the UK is looking to new build projects to help it meet a significant proportion of its carbon and renewable energy targets, some of which are legally binding and carry fiscal penalties for failure.


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I’m now an accredited Code for Sustainable Homes assessor. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure.

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