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November 2007


Eco town design competition announced
A design competition for five eco-towns to be built by 2016 has been announced by Housing minister Yvette Cooper. Architects, urban designers and planners have been invited to contribute to an “ideas competition” ahead of a more specific design competition to develop the towns themselves. The first phase is... more 
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New green council houses for Derbyshire families
Work has started on a scheme to build 10 environmentally friendly homes in Derbyshire by housing consortium Quantum. Amber Valley Housing, part of the Quantum consortium, is leading the project on Hands Road, Heanor, and is aiming to have completed the homes by the... more  back to top

Scheme to showcase eco renovations
A total of eighteen Oxford houses will open their doors to the public during November. They are all part of a city wide scheme to demonstrate a variety of eco renovations, creating an opportunity for other residents to learn from the experiences of the home owners and see ideas for greener buildings in action... more   back to top

Businesses will pay more to be green
Nearly 80 percent of industry leaders say sustainability is a major issue for today's businesses, and are willing to pay a premium to achieve it, according to a survey from CoreNet Global and Jones Lang LaSalle. The survey, "Sustainability Perceptions and Trends in the Corporate Real Estate Industry," asked workplace and... more 
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Green groups greet planning bill
with dismay

The governments planning bill has been published, receiving criticism from environmentalists and citizen's rights groups. According to communities secretary, Hazel Blears, the bill is designed to reform the planning system for major infrastructure projects, such as motorway extensions, new power stations and airport expansion.

She said: "Through quicker and high-quality decisions our planning bill will help deliver on the government's long-term vision for Britain in relation to housing, climate change, energy security, transport provision, and prosperity and quality of life for all.

"The new measures show that it is possible to deliver not only a faster and more efficient planning system, but high-quality decisions with greater community involvement."

But campaigners, including Friends of the Earth fear that the bill will be used to push through major projects despite public opposition, regardless of environmental concerns or climate change, and say the government is giving mixed messages.

"Gordon Brown's plans for tackling climate change are confusing and deeply worrying. Last week he talked about making Britain a world leader in developing a low-carbon economy. But allowing airports, for example, to expand will seriously threaten our targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions", said Tony Juniper, director of FOE.

"The government proposals for reforming the planning system put the interests of big business ahead of local people and the environment. Controversial projects such as airports, incinerators and roads will be fast tracked through the planning process. Ministers must ensure proper scrutiny of major development proposals, and allow local communities to participate in the decisions."

The RSPB warns that if the planning bill is not strengthened, developers will be allowed to gloss over environmental concerns. Under the bill, an independent commission will make decisions on applications for large-scale projects. The RSPB is calling on the government to give the commission a legal duty to promote sustainable development.

"Without it, the commission could ignore the environmental harm of large developments whether it's the loss of natural habitats or soaring carbon emissions," said Simon Marsh for the RSPB.

There is one brighter note to the planning reforms - theoretically the bill would streamline the local planning system - cutting red tape for local householders and tackling climate change by making it easier for homeowners to carry out small scale extensions to their homes and install solar panels and wind turbines without planning permission.

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Cement industry reduces emissions
Britain's cement industry has slashed it's carbon footprint by nearly a third, according to John Colley, the President of the Construction Products Association, speaking at the organisation's Autumn Lunch. Colley told an audience of industry leaders, politicians and government officials that the construction products industry in the... more 
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Engineer's eco house will be the best yet
A retired electrical engineer has started building an eco-friendly house that he claims will be "better than anything built in the UK before." Tony Williams is building the property in Braybrook near Desborough. It will include a number of energy-saving features so that it never has to be connected to mains electricity... more  back to top

Queen's Speech could be greener
The announcement of a climate change bill in this mornings Queen's Speech has been welcomed by environmentalists, but campaigners are urging the Prime Minister to strengthen the proposed new law to ensure that Britain plays a leading role in tackling global warming. There were also proposals for changes in planning and housing... more  back to top

Environment Agency will share calculator
A new online tool that will help construction companies plan carbon-wise projects and reduce their carbon footprint has been launched by the Environment Agency. The spreadsheet-based tool, which from November 2007 will be mandatory to use during the planning stage on all major Environment Agency construction projects, is now being made... more  back to top

Welsh university one of the greenest
Newport in Gwent is the UK’s greenest city, according to a recent report from environmental campaign group WWF, which found Newport uses fewer natural resources than any other urban centre. Addressing environmental issues is also a top priority with the city’s university. The University of Wales, Newport, was listed as... more  back to top



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Forthcoming Events

20th and 21st October
Northern Architecture's Event Series 2007/08 - Designing for life
The first in a new series of free debates examining ways of improving the
sustainability of regional buildings and improving the lives of communities gets
underway this month. Latest figures suggest that 50% of all the UK's carbon emissions are generated
by buildings and structures, while the building design and construction industry
creates a third of all waste.

Each event will feature a panel of experts from within and outside the region
talking about the many complex sustainability issues that concern regional
architects, engineers, planners, developers, policy makers and others.

12 November, Newcastle Sustainable cities

11 December, Durham - Sustainable buildings

16 January, Sunderland Sustainable communities

12 February, Middlesbrough Sustainable resources

18 March, Gateshead Sustainable futures

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Getting planning permission for an 'Eco-House'

Building systems for heavy mass

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