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Archive for February, 2009

A few months ago, I was in a meeting with Mark Davis, the civil servant in charge of the Zero Carbon consultation. He said, ‘In all the conversations I’ve had about Zero Carbon no one has ever protested that you can have too much energy efficiency!’ The people around the table laughed and nodded but I put my hand up to disagree and tried to make the following case:

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I spent a fair chunk of the weekend going through the CESP and HES consultations and it’s sucked the life right out of me. I think I may have consultation blindness. The worst part is, there’s a chance this might be a game-changing shift we’re witnessing here but 200 pages later it’s almost impossible to care.

Luckily I also spent a chunk of the weekend making a kick ass leaf hut with my 3 year old son. That may be the only reason I’ve survived.

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In the last post, I argued that we’ve got to strip the carbon out of almost all of our existing stock in order to hit the 2050 target. That’s a huge challenge. Phil Clark summed it up in a comment:

I would consider it a near impossibility to upgrade every old leaky house without some massively radical action.

I completely agree: it’s going to take radical action. But what kind? The picture gets a bit clearer if you take a look at where the carbon is coming from.

Looking at the graph from my previous post, we can take a snapshot of where the emissions will come from in 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.

carbon-from-houses-by-end-use-in-2050

The pie chart above shows that of the emissions from houses in 2050, almost 2/3 will come from heat. Electricity, on the other hand, will only make up just over a third of emissions. Without radical action to decarbonise heat, we won’t get anywhere near the 2050 target.

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Sounds crazy but it’s true.

Here’s a graph I put together showing the number of houses of various ages up to 2050. It clearly shows that, using current demolition rates, the vast majority of the homes in use in 2050 have already been built. Details on how I put the graph together can be found in a previous post.

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