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Monthly Archives: July 2012
July 2012: Using the Government’s latest fuel poverty figures, the Energy Bill Revolution campaign has found the problem is worst in the following London constituencies. Find out how fuel poverty is affecting your area using the following Energy Bill Revolution search facility.
July 2012: Islington took part in a Joseph Rowntree Foundation study into “local approaches to climate change across the UK, and the extent to which these take social justice issues into account.” Further information in briefing downloadable here.
July 2012: A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class highlights that:
“Because of higher living standards in cities, per capita urban energy and resource consumption is likely to grow faster in cities than in nations overall…Fortunately, densely populated cities can be very efficient at satisfying resource demand for a given income level.
“McKinsey research has found that there is potential to boost the energy efficiency of buildings globally that would reduce energy demand by 31 quadrillion British thermal units, 20 percent more than the global use of energy by shipping and air transportation. Improving the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings could deliver around one-fifth of the total $2.9 trillion opportunity to resource productivity by 2030. Again, cities can capture the majority of these benefits.”
July 2012: During last week’s Parliamentary debate on the four key Green Deal statutory instruments (SIs), Labour Shadow Energy Minister Luciana Berger MP mentioned the following:
“…I was surprised on Friday to receive an e-mail which began:
“Dear Luciana, In advance of Monday’s Committee scrutiny of the Green Deal statutory instruments, I thought it may be helpful to send a very short briefing note from the Mayor of London.”
Once I had checked that it was not a joke—if anyone wants to see it, I have it here—I was delighted to find a neat little document setting out exactly what is lacking in the Minister’s current proposals and how they could be made much better. I must ask the Minster, is it now Conservative policy to brief the Opposition on the weaknesses of their policies?” [Column 12/13 of debate]
The briefing provided by the Mayor’s office to Ms Berger can be downloaded here. It highlights the Mayor’s concerns that:
- “The capital has by far the highest number of needy properties of any region, but there is a real danger that these properties could be sidelined by Green Deal providers as a result of the current framework being proposed by Government.
- …there is a pressing need for an area allocation for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Without such a target there is a real danger that London will miss out on the attention it needs, as energy companies and Green Deal providers focus on treating areas that are cheaper and easier to retrofit.
- …without an area allocation to ensure that flats and mid-terraces – key markets in London for the Green Deal – are able to access ECO subsidies, there is a serious threat that these homes will miss out on the benefits of the scheme.
- Londoners could end up paying an additional £390m on their energy bills to fundthe Green Deal nationally, while the capital receives investment of only £156m in return –an unacceptable possibility given London’s specific needs.
- Only 1/3 of the suppliers for London’s unique RE:NEW scheme, which provides energy efficiency measures to needy London homes, have expressed interest in becoming Green Deal providers so far, and it is extremely important for the success of thescheme that more providers are encouraged to get involved in the capital.”
The issue of establishing a regional target for London – or area allocation as mentioned in the Mayor’s briefing note – has previously been considered – and rejected – by Government in the Green Deal consultation document from November 2011. A section titled ‘Regional Distribution’ in the consultation [p132/133] stated:
“Concerns have also been raised that rural areas and inner cities have not been seen an equal, proportional level of delivery of energy efficiency measures under CERT – and that this perceived pattern might be borne out in the ECO without additional constraints being put in place.
“…There is some variation between regions, for example, 9.9% of homes in North East England but only 2.7% of homes in London received measures under CERT during the period of the analysis. However, it is very difficult to isolate the cause of any under delivery in specific areas as a number of factors are at play, including: previous activity; LA and other potential partner activity or resource; prevalence of different property types (flats, solid wall, etc); expense of activity (could economies of scale be generated); distance from installers; etc.
“…In view of the evidence from CERT, and consideration of the shift of focus that the ECO would entail, DECC does not see a case for introducing further constraints to delivery in geographical terms. There might be a case for reconsidering this position at a review point, when there would be evidence on the patterns of geographical distribution of measures from the new obligations. DECC would welcome further evidence on this issue during consultation.”
Consequently, the Government’s recent response to the consultation makes no comment on specific regional provisions at all.
The Mayor’s briefing note suggested that “Provision for area allocations could be delivered through secondary legislation or within the ECO brokerage document, which will set out how Green Deal providers can access ECO funding.” The Green Deal SIs were however ‘Affirmative instruments’ which means in Parliamentary language that Parliament could accept or reject the SIs but could not amend them. Government decisions on the ECO brokerage have however not been finalised as yet, and a further consultation on a model for this is to be held by DECC over the summer.
July 2012: Established by Housing Minister Grant Schapps, the Local Housing Delivery Group recently published its review of planning and also local standards in new housing development. The news release sets out that “With the reduction in central planning guidance and the forthcoming abolition of regional housing targets, the role of local authorities in planning for new homes becomes even more critical and the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) poses a challenge for them to develop Local Plans which are both sustainable and viable.”
The Group has produced an interim report: A Review of Local Standards for the Delivery of New Homes. It concludes that there is “significant scope for simplification of the standards regime and recommends an urgent Government-backed review and consolidation of existing local housing standards to ensure they meet the aspirations of local communities without undermining viability.”
As such, the report looks at four key areas of standards that apply to new housing, and have included in their consideration requirements related to energy. The Group have come out critical to the ‘Merton Rule’ and similar mechanisms established by local authorities to drive the use of renewable energy through planning, stating:
“The Merton Rule was the first local planning policy to set a requirement on renewable energy for certain types of new development. It was named after the London borough that established it in 2003.
The rule required any new residential development of more than 10 units, or any commercial building over 1,000 square metres, to generate at least 10% of its energy needs from on-site renewable energy equipment in order to reduce its reliance on the National Grid and to reduce its CO2 emissions. Compliance with the policy was required as a condition of planning consent.
About half of the UK’s local authorities introduced a Merton-type rule. It also became part of national planning guidance through PPS 22. However, the variations on the Rule have now become confusing:
- Sometimes the targets are expressed as a percentage of energy generated (measured in kW hours).
- Sometimes the targets are around a decrease in CO2 instead (measured in tonnes of CO2e). Some local planning authorities “expect” a developer to achieve a 10% reduction through use of micro-renewables, others “require” 20%reductions or more.
- There are frequently different thresholds for when the policy is required – often 1,000 square metres or 10 units, but sometimes no threshold.
- About half of all planning authorities have no policy on this issue at all.”
The 2004 London Plan (the Mayor’s spatial planning strategy for London) also had a similar type of renewable energy requirement for new development, but this has been amended over time to set instead carbon reduction targets for new development in line with the Government’s zero carbon target for new homes by 2016. Go to the www.zerocarbonhub.org for more information on the 2016 target and read an earlier post for details on the Mayor’s current planning and energy requirements. Further information on the London Plan, including links to earlier version of the Plan, can be found on its wikipedia page here.
10 July 2012: Brent is looking for a “Schools Technical Energy Advisor … to help schools in Brent manage their energy use and reduce their carbon emissions.” The Advisor would help deliver the council’s Collaborative Low Carbon School Service (CLCSS) and look to:
- Identify energy efficiency / improvement projects that the schools are interested to act upon to reduce energy use
- Discuss Display Energy Certificate (DEC) Rating with the school as means of measuring annual energy usage performance. Initially target schools in F and G categories.
- Assist with the promotion of Brent Council’s Energy Strategy for Buildings
Further information here. The job is offered as a short term contract to April 2013 with a deadline for applications of 15 July 2012.
July 2012: With the weather we’re currently experiencing, it’s interesting to read this Bloomberg article setting out that “More than 130 port cities around the world are at increasing risk from severe storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds, rising and warming global seas and local land subsidence. Poorly planned development often puts more people in vulnerable areas, too, increasing risk. About $3 trillion of assets are at risk today, a tally on track to reach $35 trillion by 2070, according to an ongoing study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.” Click through the slides to see the 20 port cities most vulnerable to climate extremes – which doesn’t fortunately include London.
London is however likely to face increased challenges associated with flooding – as set out in chapter 3 of the Mayor’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy which highlights that:
- Nearly 15 per cent of London lies on the former flood plains of London’s rivers”
- A significant proportion of London lies within the Thames tidal floodplain and without the protection afforded by the tidal flood defences, much of that area would flood twice a day, everyday on each high tide
- The last tidal flood in London was in 1928, when 14 people drowned in Pimlico. In 1953, London narrowly escaped damage whena tidal surge inundated large parts of Kent and Essex, killing over 300 people. This resulted in the construction of the current Thames tidal defences, an integrated system comprising the Thames Barrier, 185 miles of floodwalls, 35 major gates and over 400 minor gates.
- The Thames Barrier has been operational since 1982 and has been closed over 100 times to protect London from flooding
The Museum of London’s 2011 ‘Postcards from the Future’ exhibition imagined what London might look like as a result of a number of future stress factors, including climate change. The 14 striking images, which include wind turbines in Piccadilly Circus, a nuclear power station in Kew Gardens and palm oil cultivation in Hyde Park, can be viewed here.
July 2012: National Energy Action (NEA) has received support from DECC to offer free training sessions to Environmental Health Officers on how to assess for Excess Cold. The London workshop appears to be hosted by the Haringey – however – exact venue/date details are note provided as yet. For more information on this free training click here.
July 2012: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) unveiled a new initiative that “aims to reduce pollution levels, improve resource efficiency and reduce infrastructure costs in cities across the world. Launched at the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, the Global Initiative for Resource-Efficient Cities will work with local and national governments, the private sector and civil society groups to promote energy efficient buildings, efficient water use, sustainable waste management and other activities.
“In a rapidly urbanizing world, cities are increasingly becoming the focus of international sustainability efforts. Up to 80 percent of the world population is expected to reside in cities by 2050. Today, urban areas account for 50 percent of all waste, generate 60-80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and consume 75 percent of natural resources, yet occupy only 3 percent of the Earth’s surface.”
July 2012: A short paper produced by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), and launced at the recent Rio+20 sustainable development conference, which captures conversations taken across the US on current barriers to improving the energy efficiency of buildings. The conclusions have many parallels to problems faced here in London and the UK, including issues such as low awareness of the potential of energy savings, financial barriers and regulatory hurdles. The paper can be downloaded here (scroll half way down linked page).
July 2012: The GLA has approved procurement of “specialist technical services to supervise and inspect energy efficiency works… during the delivery of RE:FIT to 12 schools as part of the Olympic Retrofit Project. It is estimated that these services will cost no more than £60,000.”
The approval form sets out the history to this project, which arose as a consequence of the shortfall in carbon emission savings and renewable energy generated on the London Olympics site due to the failure to secure a viable large-scale wind turbine project.
“The Olympic Retrofit project is a CO2 reduction project that will be fully funded by an ODA grant. It will be delivered with zero costs to the GLA. The ODA set ambitious targets within its 2007 Sustainable Development Strategy including a target “To achieve a reduction in carbon emissions for the built environment of 50 percent by 2013”. This subsequently became legally binding under a Section 106 agreement [Schedule 11]. The planning conditions for the Park also include a twenty percent renewable energy target, which contributes to the overall fifty percent carbon target. So far, the ODA has invested in a suite of carbon mitigation measures including energy efficiency; district heating and cooling from the Energy Centre; and renewable energy...
“The strategy to meet the renewable energy target on the Olympic Park had originally relied on a 2MW wind turbine that had received outline planning permission and was expected to deliver thirteen percent renewable energy for the Olympic Park. Diminished commercial interest however meant that the plan had to be abandoned. With consideration of cost and programme, the ODA could only reasonably deliver a further two percent renewable energy through the installation of photovoltaic (PV) panels on the Multi-Storey Car Park and the Main Press Centre. The overall impact is a gap in the ODA carbon target of circa 1,100 tonnes of CO2. The ODA assessed the options to compensate for the onsite shortfall and a local retrofit project based on the RE:NEW and RE:FIT models proved to be the best value for money. The ODA have amended their Section 106 agreement allowing funding of £1,700,000 to be spent on this compensation project to retrofit homes and schools within the host boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.The ODA is a ‘sunset organisation’ meaning it has a limited timeframe for operation (related to the London 2012 Games) and so it was necessary to seek a third party to deliver the programme onbehalf of the ODA. The ODA identified the GLA as best-fit to deliver through the existing RE:NEWand RE:FIT models (see Appendix 1 of MD839).
“A project led by the GLA, in conjunction with the boroughs, comprised of RE:NEW-style treatments in homes and RE:FIT works within schools will achieve this objective. The ODA has grant funded the GLA, and the GLA has entered into a grant agreements with each ofthe host boroughs to deliver the RE:NEW-style measures within homes. The GLA has called-off from the RE:FIT framework and entered into a service contract with EDF Energy. EDF Energy are currently undertaking an investment grade proposal for the portfolio of 12 schools.”
A recent update on the scope the RE:FIT project is available in the following June 2012 conference presentation – ‘The London Experience of RE:FIT’. A tender was issued in June by Mayor for companies to be added to the RE:FIT procurement framework. More on RE:FIT here.
July 2012: Inside Housing exclusively reports that the Mayor has “instructed the Greater London Authority to explore creating a pan-London green deal procurement framework and promotion and referrals organisation which councils could use to deliver energy saving measures across their housing stock. The GLA aims to retrofit 2.4 million homes in London by 2020 at a potential cost of £10 billion…
Richard Blakeway, London deputy mayor for housing, land and property, said: ‘The mayor has tasked City Hall officers to scope out a range of proposals for how we can make the government’s green deal work best for the capital.
‘No final approach has been decided, but we want to maximise the value of the green deal for Londoners by presenting the most powerful case for funds and to reverse the historic poor uptake of predecessor schemes in London, such as the carbon emissions reductions target.” Read the full story here. More on the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme here.