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November 2016: The Environment Agency has released data of (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme civil penalties – a list of organisations which have failed to comply with the Carbon Reduction Commitment and have subsequently been fined – where, interestingly TfL have been fined the maximum amount:
A TfL Audit and Assurance Committee paper from June 2015 reported that the CRC “scheme requires participants to measure and report on their energy consumption and to buy allowances from the Environment Agency for the amount of CO2 emissions associated with their energy consumption. London Underground had submitted the appropriate report by the July 2014 deadline but, by administrative oversight, had not taken the further step of ordering and purchasing the requisite allowances. London Underground remedied the matter and complied with the notice within the timescales required. To avoid a recurrence, London Underground’s administrative procedures have been reviewed and improved.“
November 2016: The London Assembly Environment Committee will be holding an oral evidence session later this week – Thursday 10 November – on home energy efficiency progress in London, and the challenges faced by Londoners living in homes suffering from fuel poverty. An outline paper prepared for the Committee is available here – and the 10am session will be webcast on the following link. Evidence will be provided by National Energy Action, Friends of the Earth and the Energy Saving Trust.
The Mayor last month committed to preparing a Fuel Poverty Action Plan for London (see page 29 of following transcript of 19 October 2016 Question Time session):
“2016/3848 – The Cold Homes Crisis
Leonie Cooper AM In London there are as many as 348,000 fuel poor homes. There is also a clear pattern of increasing depth of fuel poverty in older households. Given these terrible statistics, what action will you take to protect pensioners this winter?
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London): Thank you for taking this question, Dr Sahota. I am hugely concerned about the levels of fuel poverty in London and its increasing depth amongst older households, which is a national trend and is extremely worrying. I am committed to taking much more of a leadership role. I will look at ways to better target fuel poverty measures in London and produce a Fuel Poverty Action Plan for the capital.
My new Energy for Londoners programme will tackle fuel poverty on a number of fronts. I intend to set up a not-for-profit energy company to ensure fair and affordable bills for Londoners targeting those people who are currently paying above the odds for their energy bills. This includes households with prepay meters and those who have not switched energy supplier in the last couple of years. I will also reinvigorate and develop new homes, energy efficiency programmes and initiatives to both save carbon and cut bills. In addition, I will support the rollout of smart meters, ensuring that Londoners are supported in being able to use their meters to use energy more efficiently. While I am very concerned about the reduction in the Energy Company Obligation budget, I welcome the shift in its focus towards fuel poverty given the absence of any other national fuel poverty energy efficiency support programmes. Continue reading…
November 2016: The latest issue of the CIBSE Journal includes a case study on the significant design measures integrated into the new Tate Modern Switch House extension:
“The Tate wanted the environmental design of the Switch House extension to London’s Tate Modern gallery to be as cutting-edge as the art installations it showcases…Max Fordham’s scheme does not disappoint. It uses ground water pumped from river gravel below the site, desiccant dehumidification and even waste heat from electrical transformers to create the ideal environmental conditions for the Tate’s priceless works of art, while ensuring millions of visitors are comfortable.” Read the full case study here.
3 October 2016: London’s Zero Carbon Homes planning policy officially started on the 1st of October. Attending a recent industry workshop around the new ZCH rules – it’s clear that many organisations involved in the sector are still not quite aware of what this this all means. Hence answers to some of the most frequently asked questions raised follow below.
- What exactly started on 1 October 2016?
All new planning applications in London for residential projects above 10 units will now need to provide an energy assessment which will set out how the development will achieve a zero carbon status.
- When was this first announced?
There have been no announcements by the GLA that this new ZCH policy was going to commence from 1 October. Instead, information has largely had to be gleaned from new planning documentation and a number of recent responses by the Mayor to questions. The new policy and its implications were first picked up in a post on the Energy for London website here, following the publication of a new GLA Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) document on Housing.
- Where is detail behind this policy set out?
Three GLA planning documents set out the new policy requirements to some extent: they are the SPG on Sustainable Design and Construction; the SPG on Housing and a GLA Preparing Energy Assessment guidance paper.
- Erm…anything shorter..?!
September 2016: This month Mayor’s Question Time included the following:
progress on Energy for Londoners; schools and community energy; schools and solar power; cost to business of poor energy efficiency; renewable energy potential on TfL land and buildings; solar on London Overground land; energy efficiency and private rented sector; a discussion on Energy for Londoners; the London Sustainable Development Commission’s work plan; tube station lighting; carbon budgets; GHG emissions linked to London’s goods and services; carbon offsetting funds; cleaner, greener taxis.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
August 2016: Community Energy Fortnight starts on September the 3rd, kicking off with a major conference in Oxford. A wide number of events are taking place across the country – including a good number in London, links to which are listed below:
- 6 September Storage and Opportunities for Community Energy
- 9 September The Solar Schools Solarbration
- 12 September Community Energy Drinks
- 14 September Entrepreneurial Women in Renewables – Ginopoly
- 18 September 100% Green Energy By 2050? – How Mosques Can Help
- 21 September Pure Leapfrog LED Community Project and Workshop
Further events may come forward – check the main CEF website for further details.
Energy for London will helping at an event on 8 September with Community Energy England, Repowering London and 10:10 – initiating work for the launch of a new hub for community energy groups in London – Community Energy London. If you’re working on a community energy project, exploring a potential opportunity, or simply want to find out more information on the community energy sector in London, do come along!
15 August 2016: Following a comment piece in the Evening Standard last week, on how London is supporting the growth of decentralised energy, here’s my letter in response which was published in the paper today.
August 2016: The GLA’s home energy efficiency retrofit programme, RE:NEW, has posted a series of case studies on their website. These include a range of projects including:
- Retrofit of 204 properties at Lansdowne Green in Stockwell across
12 blocks all with a SAP rating of below 65.
- Converting individual electric heating to communal gas heating in 800 units across 10 blocks in Hackney
- Other projects profiled include retrofits in Tower Hamlets and Merton.
July 2016: A recent issue of the journal Science published a number of articles around the theme Urban Planet. One of the papers published was entitled: City-integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability (link to full text). The paper takes a high-level overview on a range of key carbon reduction opportunities at the city-level.
“To prepare for an urban influx of 2.5 billion people by 2050, it is critical to create cities that are low-carbon, resilient, and livable. Cities not only contribute to global climate change by emitting the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gases but also are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather. We explore options for establishing sustainable energy systems by reducing energy consumption, particularly in the buildings and transportation sectors, and providing robust, decentralized, and renewable energy sources. Through technical advancements in power density, city-integrated renewable energy will be better suited to satisfy the high-energy demands of growing urban areas. Several economic, technical, behavioral, and political challenges need to be overcome for innovation to improve urban sustainability.”
“Mayor Khan has promised action on energy efficiency through building standards and his proposed Energy for Londoners not for profit company. But with the Mayor’s Office yet to choose an environment appointee and currently reviewing all ongoing programs, it was unable at time of writing to provide BusinessGreen with any details about future plans for the RE:FIT scheme.”
However, a recent MQ response from the Mayor seems to set the issue to rest for now with the Mayor not only stating that the programme will continue, but will need to be ramped up:
Do you intend to continue with the GLA’s RE:FIT and RE:NEW energy efficiency programmes? How effective do you understand the programmes have been?
I intend to continue with homes and buildings retrofit programmes. But to achieve my ambitious target of becoming a zero carbon city by 2050 we will need to rapidly increase the pace of retrofitting, so I am currently exploring what more can be done.
Much more can be seen on RE:FIT on the GLA website
June 2016: Positive to see the focus on energy and climate issues by a number of London Assembly members at the first question time of the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan. This month’s questions included the following issues:
the quantity of electricity supplied to TfL through the Mayor’s Licence Lite operation and few other questions on Licence Lite (here and here); supporting the growth of London community energy schemes; the London Energy Strategy; committing to London’s 25 per cent decentralised energy target; the 2020 nearly zero energy buildings target; the publication of the annual update to the GLA Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Strategy; London Energy Plan supporting studies; supporting the growth of district heating projects; support for London’s 2025 60 per cent carbon reduction target; the future of the RE:NEW and RE:FIT building retrofit programmes; the number of domestic energy efficiency retrofits supported by RE:NEW since January 2015; numbers on the GLA’s boiler scrappage list; ring fencing London’s Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; the number of zero carbon homes that could be built by 2020; zero carbon buildings planning requirements will come into force in 2019; how much money could be raised through the Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; interim targets to the Mayor’s manifesto commitment for London to be a zero carbon city by 2050; climate change and water vapour; how the Mayor will support London’s low carbon economy; emissions from river traffic (and another); zero emission cabs and PHVs abd if CO2 is a pollutant – and finally:
whether the Mayor understands “that further increases in carbon dioxide levels will not significantly increase average global temperatures due to near saturation absorption by CO2 in the 13 – 17 µm band of the infra-red spectrum”.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
4 July 2016: Included in this month’s Mayor’s Questions was a series of useful queries around an announcement made earlier this year that the GLA would introduce a Zero Carbon Homes planning policy from 1 October 2016 for all new major housing developments. London’s plans to g0-ahead with a zero carbon homes policy runs counter to that of national government, where 10 years of work to introduce a 2016 zero carbon policy was scrapped by the Chancellor in his Summer Budget 2015, an announcement which was widely condemned by the building industry. A recent (unsuccessful) attempt to overturn this decision, in the passage of the Housing and Planning Bill (see here), specifically cited London’s stance as evidence of why the policy should be kept (see column 919 of the House of Lords debate – and reference to the GLA’s policy in House of Commons research paper here). The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee also stated in their recent Home Energy Efficiency report that the “decision damaged confidence in the low carbon economy and will lock in the requirement for future wide-scale energy efficiency measures and costly retrofits. We recommend that the Government reinstates the zero carbon homes policy or sets out a similar policy that will ensure that new homes generate no net carbon emissions.”
The Mayor’s responses clarified that:
- Funds raised through the London zero carbon homes offset fund need to be ring-fenced by local councils
- It’s not clear at the moment how much funding will be raised for low carbon projects through the offset funds, but money has already been collected by early adopters of the policy
- That the zero carbon policy will be extended to non-residential buildings from 2019
- It’s also not clear how many zero carbon homes will be built by 2020.
The GLA has also approved research work of the various approaches that could be taken by local authorities to direct these offset funds to. The outline of this research project states that:
‘London Plan policy 5.2 sets out that where the target percentage improvements in carbon dioxide emissions beyond Part L of the Building Regulations cannot be met on-site, any short fall should be provided off-site or through cash in lieu contribution to the relevant borough. This is to be ring fenced to secure delivery of carbon dioxide savings elsewhere.
Existing London Plan policy was prepared in expectation of the establishment of a national zero carbon homes and associated ‘allowable solutions’ framework which the national government is no longer progressing. As such, for the short to medium term it is likely that carbon offset funds established by borough’s will remain the only manner for securing carbon offset funding where development is unable to viably or feasibly meet carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets on-site. As such there is a need to gain a more detailed understanding of the diversity of approaches London boroughs are currently taking to carbon offsetting in order to best inform any future GLA actions in this policy area. This work forms the first stage of the information-gathering and data analysis of this process. “
It’s great to see London leading in this area to ensure that – as the Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee has recently said – we are “building houses that are fit for the future. We have the technology and building techniques to construct houses that generate their own power and hardly need heating. We owe it to future generations to use them.”