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May/June 2007

Conference: Green Roofs 2007

Name change for Building for a Future
Why the new name? Well, we decided to change to a name that is more easily recognised, and to quote an oft used phrase, “it now does just what it says on the tin!” Under it’s new name, we believe, it will reach out to a far greater audience to broaden interest in this important subject.

Not much has changed inside the magazine but the main goal over the next year or two is to concentrate on providing more practical content and less politics. I want to use a main theme for each issue, where we encourage a range of professionals, enthusiasts and journalists to examine a particular aspect of green building. This may take a few issues to fully implement, so be patient. Please also feel free to come back to me with your comments and suggestions.

If you are not already a subscriber then now may be the time to signup.

LED technology outshines the competition
New lighting technology means homeowners could reduce their lighting bills by up to 90 per cent, as well as cutting their CO2 output. The latest LEDs, termed 7x1W, use only 7.7 watts of electricity and yet produce 382 foot-candles of light on a surface 600mm away (a typical 75-watt light bulb produces only 21 foot-candles of light on the same... more    back to top

Brown revamps eco town proposals
Gordon Brown's attempt to steal a march on David Cameron with a pledge to build five new eco-towns has received a mixed reception. In his determination to undermine Cameron's reputation as the greenest leader, and bolster his own reputation, the Chancellor has re-announced a plan previously publicised by Housing Minister Yvette... more    back to top

Bournemouth insulates 3750 homes for free
A scheme to cut carbon emissions, which has provided free insulation for over 3750 privately rented homes in Bournemouth, is to be continued. The project which is run by Dorset Energy Advice Centre (DEAC) in partnership with Bournemouth Borough Council, aims to increase the living standards of people in the area as well as... more
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Planning White Paper gets a mixed reception

The Government's Planning White Paper has received a mixed reception. Based on the recommendations of Kate Barker's review of land use and planning and the Eddington Transport Study, both of which focussed on economic competitiveness without considering social and environmental issues, the Paper has alarmed environmental and countryside groups. They fear the proposals will make it quicker and easier to develop Major Infrastructure Projects, such as power stations, large supermarkets and housing estates on green field land.

There are also concerns that communities will no longer have any say in if and where such developments are sited.

Organisations involved in the construction industry, however, have responded more positively. Stewart Baseley, of the Home Builders Federation, commented "Better, stronger, faster. The Planning White Paper is not the six million dollar man but it should help give Britain the planning system it needs. Positive use of Planning Performance Agreements could help incentivise local authorities to bring forward the land needed to deliver sustainable homes".

The Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) also thought the planning shake up could be of benefit. The group want to see the organisers of the "National Policy Frameworks" and regional development agencies, who are developing regional spatial strategies, take full advantage of the environmental and social benefits of decentralised energy.

Phillip Piddington, Director of the CHPA commented: "It is a hugely exciting prospect. The Ministers that are responsible for the "National Policy Frameworks", and the local authorities who draw up regional spatial strategies, will now have a unique opportunity to maximise the energy efficiency of the UK's inner towns and cities. CHP already plays a prominent role within many communities, yet now it seems there is the opportunity to realise an even greater potential". "The White Paper has set a planning framework in which CHP can thrive. If central government and local communities use a joined up approach, CHP must be central to these visions".

The Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE), one of the UK's oldest and most respected environmental bodies, along with a coalition of other groups including Friends of the Earth, were less than happy with the White Paper, however.

Marina Pacheco, CPRE’s Head of Planning said: ‘This Planning White Paper has the potential to radically change the character of the urban and rural environment by putting the needs of business first. There are plenty of words in it about the environment, climate change and quality of life, but we question whether they are being given enough weight in what is proposed here.

"Despite calls from a wide variety of conservation and civic charities for the Government to reconsider its proposals for speeding up the planning and building of major infrastructure – such as motorways, big power stations, runways, ports, waste incinerators and reservoirs – these proposals are going ahead without significant changes".

Marina Pacheco continued: ‘We fear the proposals for Major Infrastructure Projects will reduce the level of real community involvement in deciding what gets built in their local area. It has the potential to result in a ‘twin track’ approach where scheme promoters and large environmental organisations will engage in consultation but individuals and communities will find it difficult to have their voices heard.
CPRE is also worried that the proposed Independent Planning Commission’s membership will be strongly influenced by economics and won’t have enough people with a robust environmental background.’

The Planning White Paper now enters a consultation period of less than 3 months, before the proposals become enshrined in law as a fully fledged Planning Bill. CPRE believe the Planning White Paper should be seen as a work in progress. Pacheco concluded "We hope to be able to work with the Government over the coming weeks to prevent changes in the planning system which would lead to unsustainable development.’

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RIBA Book Award Winner
The annual RIBA International Book Awards aim to highlight the rising influence and standard of architectural writing and publishing. They celebrate the important contribution writing makes to the dynamic activity of creating buildings and transforming the landscape in which we live...more    
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Environmentalists critical of Energy Paper
The Government has published it's Energy White Paper, alongside consultations on nuclear and renewable energies. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said the government had reached a preliminary view that it would be in the public interest to allow energy companies to invest in nuclear power... more   back to top

Watchdog says many new homes 'substandard'
One in three homes built in recent years should not have received planning permission, according to a damning indictment of the industry by the government's architecture watchdog. Only 18 per cent of new homes measure up to design standards, according to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, in its first... more
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Communities will have no say in future plans
Future developments including nuclear power stations and airport runways may be forced through without public consultation. A massive overhaul of planning in the UK could leave affected communities with little or no say in how their area is developed. Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth is calling on the...more   back to top

Eco show homes springing up at BRE
Construction companies from the UK and overseas have been designing homes which can be both built affordably and conform to The Code for Sustainable Homes, launched in April 2007. The code provides a means of assessing the sustainablity credentials of new homes for energy, water, materials, waste, pollution and other issues. The prototypes...more   back to top 

MPs 'must not block Energy Performance Certificates'
The most recent attempt to scupper the implementation of the controversial Home Information Packs (HIPs) failed yesterday after the Conservatives lost a vote in the House of Commons by 306 votes to 234. If passed, the legislation will mean that from June 1, homes put up for sale in England and Wales must have a HIP, which will include... more    back to top



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Forthcoming Events

19 June 2007
Green Roofs 2007

... is the only UK conference specifically aimed at architects and focuses solely on living roof technology. Delegates will hear a detailed cost-benefit analysis, get insights into the green roof process from the contractor's perspective... more info

28 June 2007
Renewable Energy for Advisors

A one day training course providing an introduction to renewable energy technologies for houses and community buildings - appropriate for anyone providing advice to homeowners and community groups about their renewable energy options. It will also be useful for organisations and individuals aspiring to move into this field... more info

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Green Building Forum

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Domestic energy certificates

Sustainable Concrete Construction

Can existing houses ever be carbon neutral?

Building Regulations: Part P - Can I DIY?!

Sun room extension

Straw bale build training

Internal insulation for solid stone walls

Transition Towns

Fuel Cells When?

Heat loss calcs and Air Changes

Solar Panels - Going for Overkill

Central heating - Whats Best?

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