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December 2005

M.P.s Query CBI Influence On Environment Policy
MPs will question whether business lobby groups are a barrier to environmental policy making, at a seminar in the House of Commons organised by Friends of the Earth and hosted by the Conservative MP and Chair of the Environment Audit Committee, Peter Ainsworth. The seminar will focus on the influence exerted by the... more    back to top

Solar Tax Breaks
Are Backed

Plans to cut council tax for people who generate their own electricity have been backed by the government.Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz's private member's bill aims to increase the number of homes with solar panels and wind turbines... more   
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Govt Must Put Renewables First
BWEA, the UK’s largest renewable industry association, representing wind and marine renewables, today welcomed Tony Blair’s announcement of a review of long-term energy policy and called on the Government to put renewables at the heart of any new policy. While most media discussion about the review has centred on the question of nuclear... more  back to top

U.K. Biggest Importer Of Illegal Timber
The UK is the biggest importer of illegal timber in Europe, fuelling the destruction of the world's most important forests and exacerbating poverty in some of the poorest countries, a new report from WWF has found... more 
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CPA Calls For More Sustainable Housing
In advance of the Pre-Budget Report on 5 December, the Construction Products Association has written to the Chancellor urging him to respond positively to the Barker Report on housing supply which pointed to the need for increased levels of both social and private housing provision... more  back to top



Sustainable Homes Code as proposed could hold back 'real' green building in UK!

The chance for achieving 'real' sustainable homes in the UK could be seriously set back if the Government introduces the proposed weak sustainable housing code that is currently out for consultation. The proposed new code proports to build upon the existing Building Research Establishment's Ecohomes standards but in fact offers little more than a re-badging of the work and it would still remain a non-mandatory scheme.

Only a few days ago, 'File on Four' on BBC Radio Four accused the ODPM and the Treasury of actually 'holding back' the Government from meeting its climate change mitigation targets. The programme also accused the ODPM of withdrawing an important aspect of the forthcoming building regulations update that "would have imposed energy efficiency on anyone adding an extension or loft conversion to their existing home".

Brian Scannell, of National Energy Services, a company which specialises in home energy efficiency, said the measure would probably set back energy saving by another five years. "It means that in properties where extensions are being made the odds are that their total emissions will increase and they will be taking us in the wrong direction, given an overall objective of reducing CO2 emissions."

This leads me to beg two questions. "Are these important issues in the hands of the right Government department?" and "is the ODPM being over-influenced by strong industry lobbying and lacking better public accountability?

Keith Hall
Discuss this issue in more detail on our
Green Building Forum

EST also say let's have better!

Figures released recently by the Energy Saving Trust reveal the Government could help save over 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new homes in England by 2010 if it set additional energy standards under its Code for Sustainable Homes.

Although the Code, now out for consultation until March 2006, includes energy efficiency as one of six components to rate the overall sustainability of a property, the minimum standard required is still only equal to the building regulations which are due to come into force at the same time as the voluntary Code in April 2006.

Now, the Energy Saving Trust is calling on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to use the Energy Saving Trust's own energy efficiency standards for new housing developed under its long established best practice programme as the minimum requirement for energy efficiency within the Code's five star rating system.

The Government has made a commitment that all publicly-funded homes will comply with the Code from April 2006 which could save over 45,000 tonnes of
CO2 by 2010 if the Energy Saving Trust's standards were used as the minimum requirement.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: "Although the Code offers Government endorsement for more sustainable homes in the UK, there is no definition of specific energy performance standards and there is scope to 'trade off on some components at the expense of others.

"Our key concern though is that by setting the minimum energy efficiency standard at a level which will be required by law anyway, an opportunity is being missed for the Code to have real impact on the UK's CO2 emissions. If all new homes planned in England over the next five years were to comply with the Code, using Energy Saving Trust standards as a minimum, over 300,000 tonnes of CO2 and over £30 million in fuel bills could be saved."

For further details on the Energy Saving Trust's energy efficiency standards;, email or call 0870 120

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Flooding Could Make New Homes Uninsurable
More than 200,000 of the homes the Government plans to build in South-East England will be located on flood plains, claims a report by a leading insurer. Opposition by many residents' groups to the controversial proposals is likely to be strengthened by fresh evidence that the homes will be "uninsurable" - and thus unmortgageable... more
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Demand Must Be Cut To Solve
Energy Crisis

George Monbiot writes.. "In one respect, Simon Jenkins is right. "Nobody," he complained in the Guardian last week, while laying out his case for nuclear power, "agrees about figures." As a result, "energy policy is like Victorian medicine, at the mercy of quack remedies and snake-oil salesmen". There is a reason for this... more
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B.P. To Expand Renewables Sector
BP says it intends to reveal plans for a major expansion of its renewable power business in a drive that could help it justify its "beyond petroleum" marketing label. Britain's biggest company is to group its solar, wind, and hydrogen power operations together for the first time, with plans to greatly increase investment... more   back to top

U.K's First Hydrogen Powered House
A tiny fishing village on the exposed Berwickshire coastline in Scotland is playing host for the next 12 months to the cutting-edge of 21st century technology. Eyemouth has taken its place on the world stage as the venue for the first ever installation of a Home Energy Centre in the UK using hydrogen... more  back to top




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Forthcoming Events

Hockerton Housing Project Master Class 26th Jan 2006
The Hockerton Housing Project (HHP) is an innovative residential sustainable development in the village of Hockerton near Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The architects were Professor Brenda Vale and Dr Robert Vale, whose own ground-breaking home in Southwell provided much of the inspiration and know-how for this project.... more    back to top

Sustainable Refurbishment Conference: 25 Jan
A one-day conference on refurbishment for housing associations, housing managers, property maintenance contractors, architects, developers and building renovators... more

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Internal walls - solid granite - lime plastering ?

I have an old cottage with solid granite walls. The internal walls are plastered with lime plaster direct onto the granite walls. This is damp in places so I removed it and let the walls dry out over the summer ... Well I can replace the lime plaster or I can use 42mm Gyproc Thermal Board Plus...
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Tiny eco-build

I am planning a very small eco-build self-build (the dwelling can only measure 30ft x 14ft due to planning restrictions and has to be a bungalow). This rules out straw bale and cob, because of the thickness of the walls, so I am looking at timber-frame. Does anyone know if there's a definitive book/website that can provide me with info about this?...
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