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July 2005

Green Energy - The People's Choice
The government must grasp the ‘once in a generation opportunity’ to support the growth of the domestic renewable energy sector, says the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) on the release of its latest policy document: “Renewable energy – more than wind?” A new opinion poll, commissioned by CLA, indicates that an incredible 78% of people would prefer to use renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels, to fuel their cars and to power their homes. An overwhelming majority (84%) would also prefer that the UK produced its own renewable energy rather than buying it in from abroad.

As the G8 climate change plans for the future sink in, the CLA argues that managing the reduction in greenhouse gases without endangering the economy is actually a wonderful opportunity to create jobs and investment for the UK – particularly in rural ... more
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Thinktank Sees Micro Generation As The Way To Go
Renewable power, particularly schemes where thousands of homes have their own microgenerators for heat and electricity, are a far cheaper way of meeting the UK's energy needs and combating climate change than nuclear stations, says a new report. The New Economics Foundation, a radical thinktank, compares the costs of nuclear energy and renewables, their contribution to the economy, and security of electricity supply for ... more   back to top

Dry Stone Walling, Earth Building And Thatching Could Disappear
A recent report from the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) backed by ConstructionSkills and English Heritage has highlighted that Britain’s listed and historic buildings are under serious threat from a shortage of skilled craft workers. The research found that over 86,000 people currently work within the built heritage sector, preserving over 4 million historic homes and 550,000 historic commercial buildings, but with an ever increasing workload ... more  back to top


Low Carbon Buildings Programme

The DTI 's latest consultation paper on Microgeneration includes proposals for the new 'Low Carbon Buildings Programme', which is to supersede the current DTI grant schemes for small-scale renewable energy technologies- the Major PV demonstration programme and Clear Skies, which are due to end in March 2006. The DTI says that the new programme 'will provide a more holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions from buildings through a combination of practical advice on energy efficiency measures and practical advice and capital grants for the installation of micro-renewables'.

Although it says that, in the new scheme, 'more efforts need to be made in terms of ensuring that microgeneration and energy efficiency technologies are seen as complementary and mutually reinforcing', the DTI says that it will only consider applications for grants for new supply technologies, not for any energy efficiency elements - money for that has to be sought from the Carbon Trust or other agencies - an odd sort of integration?

Within the Low Carbon Building Programme, which it says will operate for a 6-year period from April 1st 2006, the emphasis will be on fewer, larger projects, but there will also be a stream of funding for individual and community projects.

Finally it notes that the programme will be “technology blind”, in other words no single technology will be favoured over another. This, they say, ”will allow architects, developers and the construction industry the flexibility to use the most appropriate technology or combination of technologies to deliver the energy requirements of the building with reduced carbon emissions”.

It will be interesting to see how the various separate interests (efficiency, solar thermal, PV, micro wind, micro-CHP etc) react to that.
Dave Elliot

The consultation document can be found here.

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Lower Council Tax For Green Buildings
Council tax should be cut by between £50 and £90 for people who make their homes more energy efficient, says a report from an influential watchdog. The Energy Saving Trust also argues there should be stamp duty rebates for new homes which do not waste fuel. The agency warns ministers they will miss their targets on tackling global warming unless they encourage home insulation and low carbon houses. Households are responsible for about 30% of total UK energy use, it says. The report suggests 1.64m homes would be likely to take up energy efficiency incentives based on council tax rebates. Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving ... more  back to top

Timber Frames Are Going Up
Timber frame is the fastest growing method of mainstream construction in the UK, according to new figures published in the UK Timber Frame Association’s latest Market Report. There was a 17.9% increase last year in the demand for all timber frame units, including housing and commercial units. Over 42,000 units were sold in 2004, leading to sales of nearly £425 million for timber frame manufacturers. The number of new timber frame homes increased by 18%, more than twice the growth rate of other methods of building. Timber frame housing in the UK has ... more   back to top

Economic Growth Can Be Green
Richard Hipkiss, Marketing Manager of Schneider Electric Transparent Building Integrated Systems, writes..."Margaret Beckett should be applauded for her presentation on climate change to the G8 summit, particularly since the most important politician she spoke to represents a country not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol". Beckett said "Since 1990 the UK has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% whilst our economy has grown by over 36%, showing that tackling emissions can be consistent with continued economic growth. Of this progress the great bulk has been achieved through the implementation of a portfolio of innovative policy measures. The Climate Change Levy, introduced in 2001, is a tax on energy used in industry, commerce and the public sector which is generated using sources which release greenhouse gas emissions. ... more   back to top

Mayor Says "Don't Flush The Loo"
Londoners were asked to refrain from always flushing the loo by the capital's mayor, Ken Livingstone, as reports showed that the water shortage facing the south of England was becoming acute. Lavatories should not be flushed when merely "taking a pee", Mr Livingstone said recently. The measure would be a matter of personal choice, he said, although he said he had changed his own behaviour. The Environment Agency said that hosepipe and sprinkler bans were likely as parts of England dried up, despite recent downpours such as those that flooded the Glastonbury Festival. South-east England has had the driest winter since 1976 ... more  back to top 

MPs Call For Greener Building And Less Red Tape
A House of Lords report published recently has urged the government to resolve the uncertainty and confusion that are undermining its attempts to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greener buildings and more energy efficient appliances are specifically mentioned in the report's recommendations.

Baroness Perry of Southwark, who chaired the inquiry, said: "The government has to get a grip on our huge waste of energy if it is to limit the UK's contribution to climate change. No country in the world has yet succeeded in combining a sustained reduction in energy use with economic growth, and UK energy demand is still rising. Achieving the government's targets is a huge task, and needs clearer thinking and stronger leadership." .... more  back to top

Farmers Build Eco-Offices From Straw Bales
Farming brothers Chris and Simon Redding have turned disused cowsheds and barns into high-tech eco-offices at their farm at Hewish, near Weston super Mare in North Somerset. The cowsheds are believed to be the first offices in the country constructed with large (1m x 1m x 3m) straw bales. The super-insulation provided by the bales is teamed with computer-controlled windows and a geothermal heating and cooling system which draws heat from the surrounding fields during the winter and puts it back in the summer.

The result is Grange Office Park - six sustainable office units in four buildings in the middle of the Somerset countryside, 9456sq ft (878 sq m) in total ... more  back to top



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Forthcoming Events

South West Eco Homes Tour
Are you looking for an eco-home? South West Eco Homes can help you. To learn more about the eco-homes they are building in the South West of England, STSD/SWEH are having a Public Open Day at Great Bow Yard, Langport, Somerset on Sunday 24th July and all are invited to join tours of the development.

Tours will take place at regular intervals between 10.00am and 3.00pm. The site is located on the River Parrett at the western end of Langport, next to the old Warehouse. There is adequate parking in Langport. More info from 01458 259400 ... more    back to top


Green Building Forum

Post your questions on our green building forum. If other website visitors don't offer an answer then we will get you one within 72 hours.


Simplified Air Leakage Test (Tony Cowling)

I am interested in developing a quick, simple way of obtaining air leakage values for houses. Present methods are, in my opinion, way too expensive and far too time consuming. I cannot see how they are affordable at present and they are going to need to become so! I may have some research and development finance available for this purpose. Any clever people have any bright ideas of how to do this? -----results in minutes rather than several hours is my aim. I dont think more than one house can be tested per day at the moment (and remedial work can take ages then a re test ££££ !!!! ... Go to this thread

Heating options for a 50's house (Susan)

We have recently moved into a 1950s house which has an oil fired boiler for radiators and hot water. We want to replace this with a more sustainable system - but what? I have considered a wood pellet boiler but am concerned about the supply of pellets to us in Buckinghamshire (no space for chips or logs) and, from what I've read, a GSHP would not be a good option for radiators. A gas condensing boiler is another option, but as this is still fossil fuel it doesn't really meet our green aspirations. A lot of the advice out there seems to be for new build with good insulation and underfloor heating. And while we can and will improve our insulation, we cannot put in underfloor heating ... Go to this thread

Solar panels (Graham Jackson)

It's all very well going on about how we should be installing solar panels on our houses but we are already paying through the nose in taxes and subsudies for regular electricity. Now the government is trying to rub our noses in it by talking us into paying for our own generation equipment. I think that our roofs should be rented by the electricity generators and they pay us a rent for the trouble. We would have not needed to invade Iraq for its oil then ... Go to this thread

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