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Archive for the ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’ Category

It’s been a long and protracted death, but the Queen’s Speech finally spelled the end for plans to drastically reduce emissions from new build.

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The EU won’t publish its data on emissions from biofuels and tar sands until the spring but the working figures have been leaked to EurActiv and published on line.

The figures show that, once Indirect Land Use Changes are counted, biodiesel from palm and soybeans is roughly as polluting as Canadian tar sands. And rapeseed oil (which OFGEM has classed as “renewable”) is nearly as bad. And all three are worse than crude oil.

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Hitting the 80% carbon reduction by 2050 has huge implications (and costs) for the residential sector. Two strategies are emerging for dealing with these costs, each with its own potentially severe side effects.

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Wrong. Unless they include extra charges.

The Code for Sustainable Homes, upcoming changes to building regs, and national emissions targets are all driving the industry towards much wider use of on-site generation.

Reducing carbon with on-site generation (also called “distributed energy” or just “DE”) brings extra costs relative to the business-as-usual approach of individual gas boilers and grid electricity. Cyril Sweett and others put the additional cost of building a zero-regulated-emissions house at £10k – £13k per dwelling, and some recent projects at work have borne this out.

This £10k – £13k is a massive problem for developers and housing associations, in some cases making projects infeasible.

There’s a widespread misconception that ESCOs can make the problem disappear. Some of this misconception has been fostered by ESCOs  keen to get deals on the books (I’ll come back to this in a minute), but I think most of the problem is down to a poor understanding of distributed energy and how ESCOs make money.

So how much capital cost can ESCOs take on? Here’s an example: (more…)

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For consultants, energy reports for planning are fantastic: a bit of SAP, a few benchmarks, some spreadsheet magic, and hey presto you’re sending an invoice. But the contents of the energy report can have huge implications, in some cases committing the scheme to commercially or legally impossible strategies, causing delays and increasing costs later in the programme. Here are a couple of examples:

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Made it into the Sunday Times this weekend in an article titled Ed Miliband’s carbon neutral homes pledge in peril.

Two things: first, I sometimes feel a little uneasy speaking to journalists because I might be selectively quoted – but I needn’t have worried. And second, it’s very interesting to see this sort of article making its way into the mainstream press. Discussion about  low carbon is spreading outside the building industry.

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I’ve written about this before but in light of the Low Carbon Transition Plan launched last week,  it’s worth reiterating:

It’s increasingly clear that carbon reduction through on site measures will be set at 70% of regulated emissions. Sounds quite high. But in reality this equates to just 44% of total emissions – less than half of the reduction originally required under the Zero Carbon definition!

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I just received a very interesting comment from a “simple builder” about the regulatory maze. There are some interesting points in there. I don’t agree with all of them but I wanted to draw attention to them just the same:

Sorry guys I just have to speak out.

I speak as a simple Builder, we are a practical breed, not scientists, but we are being treated with rafts of legislation written by lunatics…

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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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In a blog post earlier this month, Mark Brinkley wrote that the zero carbon agenda is dependent on private wire networks, which he contends are anti-competitive. While I have a lot of respect for Mark, in this case his arguments aren’t valid. Here’s why.

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