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January 2007

Government launches online green living guide
A new online guide to greener living can now be found on the government's main public website, Directgov. The guide aims to help the relatively uninitiated take simple steps toward tackling climate change and other environmental issues. ... more   back to top

Housing association goes batty
A new housing development providing ‘green’ and affordable homes in Waltham Forest, London is encouraging bats to take up residence with the installation of specially designed bat boxes. The boxes installed are of a roost type designed to encourage bats to take up residence in the summer months.
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Going green not just for middle class
Going green and installing energy efficient renewable technologies should no longer be the preserve of the middle class, or a points scoring exercise for politicians. That's the message from Places for People, the UK’s largest housing and regeneration group... more    back to top

Scottish homes becoming greener
Scots are living in greener homes, according to a recent report by the Executive. With stricter environmental rules for new housing and the rising cost of fuel, the proportion of houses rated "good" under national green ratings has risen from 31 per cent in 2003-4 to 40 per cent in 2004-5... more 
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HBF hosts zero carbon conference

The Home Builder's Federation have begun the year by hosting a roundtable summit in London to consider the government's ambitious zero carbon building targets.

Representatives of home building companies, suppliers, utility companies, regulators, local government and even environmental groups met to start working out how to deliver new homes to 'zero carbon' expectations within the ten years as announced by Gordon Brown late last year.

At the summit Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “The home building industry broadly welcomes the government’s environmental targets. However, home builders cannot achieve them alone. This roundtable summit aims to bring all the parties together and, rolling up our sleeves, begin the crucial task of working out the detail so that we can achieve higher environmental standards and at the same time deliver the step-change in housing output that the country so badly needs.”

Yvette Cooper MP, Minister for Housing and Planning, who was also in attendance said: "Every sector of the economy needs to do its bit to help cut carbon emissions. We know it will be a challenge for all new homes to be zero carbon within 10 years but we think the industry can rise to it. It's important that the government, house builders, utilities and local councils all work together to deliver the changes we need. And improving the energy efficiency of our homes will help cut people's fuel bills as well as cutting carbon emissions."

A Greenpeace spokesman at the meeting said: "Tackling emissions from homes is really important and zero-carbon homes are therefore crucial."

What is a 'zero carbon' home?
A zero-carbon home, could generally be defined as one which generates as much, or more energy than it requires to run and this would have to come from renewable sources of on site generation (using equipment such as micro combined heat and power boilers, fuel cells, solar panels or wind turbines). However, the term is new so it may be open to many differing interpretations. For instance, skeptics fear that rather than cutting edge green building being adopted to meet the goal, we may see more widespread adoption of far less challenging approaches, such as carbon offsetting*, or the buying in of remotely generated renewable energy.

*Carbon offsetting is usually carried out via funding of third party 'carbon neutral' activity, eg tree planting etc.

The forthcoming Spring edition of Building for a Future magazine will be looking at the issues raised here in much more detail.

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BWEA warns on UK renewables policy as Germany leads the way
Whilst Britain tinkers with it's Renewables Obligation, Germany continued to be a world leader in the use of renewables during 2006. Wind power, hydropower, solar energy, bio energy and geothermal renewable energy sources became more popular than ever last year, according to the German Federation of Renewable Energy(BEE)... more   back to top

Prefabs make way for affordable green homes
Work on a £4.8 million eco-friendly housing development in Sawston, Cambridgeshire, will get under way this month following the demolition of 28 concrete homes built after the Second World War. The 'Airey' houses were constructed from pre-cast concrete panels, meaning that in the 1940s and 1950s, when resources were stretched, houses could be built using unskilled labour and few imported materials ... more   back to top

Environment Agency's greener Guide For Developers
The Environment Agency has developed a 'guide for developers', previously referred to as the Developers pack. It was originally produced to help the Agency work with those involved in development and planning in the Thames Gateway. However, the guide provides practical advice on planning and the environment and a very useful checklist of of the actions required of any developer by the Agency... more    back to top 

Solo living could cost the Earth
So how many people live in one green building? More than one would seem to be the answer. Statistics show that increasing numbers of us are living alone. In twenty years’ time it’s estimated around 38% of the population will be living by themselves. Household numbers are expected to rise by more than 200 thousand a year in England alone – around three quarters of those will be one person households ... more     back to top



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Forthcoming Events

1 February 2007
Designing Energy Efficient Buildings - Cardiff

One day course aimed at showing how to design thermal envelopes (buildings to me and you) that perform pretty much as per calculations.

2 February 2007
Heating with Wood - Buckinghamshire

...for anyone thinking of installing a wood stove and using wood as a cosy and renewable source of space heating and/or water heating.

9 February 2007
Homes for Good - Weston Super-Mare

Shows how buildings can be designed, built, refurbished, decorated and furnished in an ecologically sensitive way more info

27 February to
1 March 2007
Ecobuild - London

Ecobuild is the UK’s only event dedicated to sustainable design and construction. more info

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