Monthly Archives: August 2011

Greener Homes Costing Less…but cost more in London

August 2011: The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) have released the latest in its regular updates on the additional cost requirements of building homes to higher levels of environmental standards as required under the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH). CLG’s press release states that “homes built to Code level 3 standards, average extra costs have fallen by almost three quarters in the last three years – falling from £4,458 in 2008 to £1,128 in 2010” – the extra costs being those required to achieve the Code level over the cost of building to the baseline building specification – in this case a Part L 2006 compliant building.
The research highlights that:

  • A significant fraction of the costs of building to Code standards are incurred under the Energy and CO2 category of the Code.
  • Typically meeting Code 3 requirements has involved improvement of the building fabric in combination with a solar thermal system or small PV array.
  • But the standard could also  be achieved through fabric improvement alone at a similar extra-over cost to strategies involving low carbon generation and several home builders cited a preference to avoid installing generator technologies on grounds of simplicity; and
  • A fabric only approach at Code level 3 may become the norm

The research also highlights (pages 70/71) however that there are regional variations in the costs associated with meeting the targets, with London estimated to be up to 9% higher than elsewhere taking labour and material costs (from the industry price guide SPONS) into account.

The report highlights that as yet there is too little experience of building homes to higher levels of the Code however it is likely that biomass systems and community heating networks will be increasingly required to delivered the CO2 savings needed.  In relation to London it must be noted however that :

  • There are major concerns amongst air quality experts in relation to the use of biomass heat and power systems in London which will likely limit their use (new emission standards for biomass systems are currently being devised)
  • Progress on the development of district heating networks in London remains slow despite the Mayor’s commitment to a 2025 25% decentralised energy target for the capital.
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Approvals for new homes in London drop

August 2011: The Home Builders Federation have just issued an update on the number of residential planning permissions granted across the country. It’s not pretty. The HBF comment “These new figures paint a bleak picture. We already have an acute housing crisis that is affecting the quality of life of families, young and old, across the country and the economy. Today’s extremely low levels of permissions will only make things worse in the short term.”
The numbers are dismal everywhere, but London looks particularly bad when compared to previous quarters. Close to 20,000 units secured planning approval in Q1 2006 in London: the latest figures for Q1 2011 show that only 2,692 were approved – the lowest level recorded in the research for London over the past five years.

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Delivering a sustainable games

August 2011: Interview posted on The Guardian’s website with the Olympic’s sustainability team on the environmental challenges in terms of delivering the games and the lessons learned on the carbon mitigation initiatives taken forward.

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Briefing on Sustainable Energy & Planning

August 2011: The Local Government Group’s Planning Advisory Service (PAS) has updated its councillor briefing on sustainable energy. This briefing covers:

  • What is sustainable energy?
  • Jargon busting
  • What does planning deal with and what can be expected from applicants

It provides a useful introduction of many of the key issues raised in relation to the challenges of delivering safe, secure and reliable energy systems at a time of considerable change in the UK energy market.

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Review of the Green Doctor Programme

25 August 2011: The Green Doctor programme “aims to tackle fuel poverty amongst vulnerable residents by providing home visit services in deprived neighbourhoods and is being delivered in Islington by Groundwork London. The project was funded by Ebico Trust, the charitable arm of Ebico, the “UK’s only not-for-profit energy supplier‘, and a progress report of work undertaken to date under the programme has just been published.

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Haringey to invest £15 million in solar panels for schools and homes

25 August 2011: The Tottenham & Wood Green Journal reports that “Schools, libraries, social housing and council offices, which could include the Civic Centre and River Park House, both in Wood Green, will be set up with the photovoltaic panels in a move that could double London’s current solar power capacity. The council will plough in £8.5 million of its own cash into buying panels for council buildings and rent out the rest of its rooftops to third-party providers to raise the remaining £7.5 million for the scheme. Read the full story here.

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Supporting Renewable Energy through Business Rates

August 2011: The issue of how the Government’s proposals for business rate retention by local authorities could help fund sustainable energy initiatives has been highlighted previously on this website, and on 18 July, CLG’s consultation paper, Local Government Resource Review: Proposals for Business Rates Retention sets out the detailed proposals for a new rates retention scheme to replace the current local government finance system. Supporting this consultation paper, the Government has now published eight technical papers exploring in further detail how councils would be allowed to keep locally generated business rates, which should help enable them to borrow against future rate income.

In addition to this potential new investment stream into energy projects, included amongst the technical papers is a specific Government’s proposal to support communities hosting renewable energy projects by allowing them to keep the business rates generated from such projects. The paper covers issues such as:

  • the types of renewable energy that would be covered by the proposals
  • what is meant by a “new renewable energy project”
  • how different scenarios of renewable energy projects would be dealt with
  • who would be responsible for determining whether a project was covered by the scheme and, therefore, not taken into account in the setting of any levy; and
  • how the business rates from a renewable energy project might be split between different authorities in two-tier areas
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Barking & Dagenham Emissions Update

August 2011Barking and Dagenham Greenhouse Gas Emissions just released for the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011

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Visit a London Superhome!

August 2011: The Sustainable Energy Academy’s Superhome initiative seeks to establish “a network of exemplar, old dwellings which have undergone an energy-efficiency retrofit and are local and publicly accessible, within 15 minutes, to nearly everyone in the country”. A number of these highly energy efficient  Superhomes can be visited during London’s Open House Weekend on 17 and 18 September 2011 including:

Many of the homes have managed to achieve CO2 reductions of 60%+ using a variety of measures ranging from draught proofing, triple glazing and high levels of insulation (external and internal wall insulation, flooring insulation and flat roof insulation) to LED lighting, sun pipes,  PV, solar thermal, micro wind turbines and also wood burning stoves. Find out more by visiting these Superhomes.  The links above provide details of how to book a tour.

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The Institute for Sustainability’s FLASH+ programme

August 2011: Coordinated and managed by the South East Centre for the Built Environment (SECBE), FLASH+ is free and aimed at architects, planners, designers, builders, engineers, and facilities managers and anyone who is involved, or wants to be involved, in specifying, buying or delivering low carbon solutions.  Further information on the Institute of Sustainability’s website.

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Alleviating Fuel Poverty in London

August 2011: A joint submission from a number of organisations – including energy for london – has recently been made to the London Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee’s inquiry into ‘Alleviating Fuel Poverty in London‘. An initial oral evidence session took place on 22nd June (the transcript of which can be downloaded here) and a further evidence session, which is open to the public to observe,  is to take place at City Hall on 13 September 2011 at 3pm.

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Camden to build UK’s largest PassivHaus scheme

18 August 2011: The  53 home development based in Highgate will be the UK’s largest residential scheme so far to meet the PassivHaus standard, and will utilise  a combination of super insulation to reduce heat loss in walls, roof and floor, and high levels of air tightness. Read the full story at

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