Tag Archives: Energy Efficiency

Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

July 2014: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Mayoral involvement with the Local Government Climate Roadmap; organisations operating at the London Sustainable Industries Park; potential for the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) to invest in low carbon London projects; whether Energy Performance Certificate or Green Deal assessments will be provided for homes that go through the RE:NEW programme; monitoring high energy consuming buildings in London; reductions in forecasted projections of CO2 savings in Mayor’s energy supply programme; Transport for London’s (TfL) Energy Strategy; the Mayor’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with energy suppliers; visit by Mayor’s energy advisor to Camden’s biomethane refuelling station; correspondence with DCLG on the Mayor being able to set London specific energy efficiency targets in planning rules for new development; meetings with DECC over encouraging the use of solar PV on GLA land and building; new district heating network using heat from Greenwich Power Station; the low take up of ECO energy efficiency programme in London; connecting Whitehall District Heating Scheme to Pimlico District Heating Undertaking;  the Mayor’s response to a recent London Solar Energy report by Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones; future TfL electricity costs; whether the Mayor responded to the Government’s recent solar PV consultation; concerns over government changes to the ECO as raised by the Mayor; funding for the next round of the RE:NEW programme; energy efficiency requirements in the private rented sector; monies received by the Green Bus Fund; work being undertaken to assess the economic impact to London as a result of climate change; attendance at the World Mayors Summit of Climate Change; planning offset funds; contract awarded for management of the RE:NEW programme; and if the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group has considered solar PV.

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Research Paper on Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme published

July 2014: The results of a study of the Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme, RE:NEW, has recently been published in major academic journal Energy Policy (which – for once – is freely available online!) focussing on the first major roll-out of phase of RE:NEW, delivered between July 2011 and April 2012, where 50,683 homes underwent a RE:NEW home energy visit.

The conclusions set out in the paper are quite stark and concludes that with respect to the programme’s engagement with households, that RE:NEW:

  • Visits do not generate significant pro-environmental behaviour change.
  • Visits do not overcome the barriers to the installation loft and wall insulation.

The paper’s author researched the delivery of RE:NEW in three inner London boroughs and provides a helpful contribution in understanding the limitations and constraints of the programme. The paper also identifies why the design of the programme may have contributed to the challenges RE:NEW faced in achieving its goals and also in engaging effectively with householders. These include:

  • “The RE:NEW programme and the specification of the visit were conceived at City Hall and were based on a policy intent of reducing carbon emissions, rather than as the result of demands or expressed desire from residents. As a result, the appetite for the programme, from householders, was questionable.”
  • one of the limitations of the home energy visit was the time constraint on visits. Visits generally lasted about an hour and this was due to a number of reasons. Most of the advisors were employed as contract workers and were paid a fixed price for each visit delivered…there was a focus on the number of visits delivered, rather than the length or quality of the visit.
  • the short visit length meant that advisors did not have adequate time to install all of the easy measures provided during the visit.
  • The effectiveness of visits, specifically in relation to encouraging the adoption of curtailment behaviours, was limited by the expertise of the ‘energy advisors’ who had inadequate training prior to delivering visits.
  • over 70% of the visits to the sample groups in local authorities B and C, the householder receiving the visit was living in rented (privately, council or RSL) housing and did not have control over the potential to install further measures.
  • the GLA and the local authorities were focused on achieving different outcomes from the RE:NEW visits. For the GLA, the focus of the visits was on reducing carbon emissions, whereas for the local authorities, the focus was on reducing fuel poverty, but these differing aims are not necessarily complementary
  • If an impact-oriented approach is taken to reducing carbon emissions then the focus of home energy visits may better placed be on high energy consumers, who are likely to be from more wealthy neighbourhoods and home-owners who will have the control over their properties to make structural changes. Though using tax-payers money to fund such work is unlikely to be politically acceptable

Overall, the study concludes: “Negligible savings were achieved as a result of the installation of significant measures. The impact of the visit on energy and water saving behaviours were also negligible. Overall, for these households, the impact of a visit led to an estimated average reduction in annual household emissions of 3%.”

The paper notes that some of the limitations of the RE:NEW programme have been recognised, and were set out in an evaluation report published earlier this year by the GLA (see earlier post here for background and link to paper).

A third phase of the RE:NEW programme has recently been initiated by the GLA.

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

June 2014: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Energy efficiency in the private rented sector; carbon offsets used by new developments;
How much energy is produced in London by decentralised energy systems;
heat recovery from London’s buildings; meetings with London community energy groups; total spend by the Mayor on domestic energy efficiency programmes;
Mayoral action following the publication of the government’s Community Energy Strategy; energy companies supporting the Mayor’s License Lite application;
progress against the Mayor’s decentralised energy target; the government’s new Urban Energy Fund; money spent by the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF);
hospitals using the Mayor’s RE:FIT programme; visits to the Kingston heat pump development; visits to the London Array Wind Farm; Ofgem approval of the Mayor’s License Lite application; local authorities using RE:FIT; the Mayor’s first license lite supply deal; feedback from the C40 Johannesburg summit; consumer redress to high heat charges on district heating networks;
ESCO deals signed under the Mayor’s RE:FIT programme; Mayoral support for the Green Deal in London’; Green Deal Communities Fund; costs associated with applying to DECC’s Green Deal Communities Fundgreen jobs created by Mayoral programmes;
low carbon sector jobs created; attracting green investment into London; the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group;

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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British Gas data on energy efficiency retrofits in London

June 2014: Following an extensive evidence session on the Mayor’s domestic energy efficiency programme earlier this year – details of which are here – the Mayor has provided some additional information on work being undertaken by British Gas in London.

The letter states that “British Gas, with its London borough and housing association partners, has already committed to invest in excess of £36 million through eight schemes in London shown in the table below.

These schemes are expected to deliver measures to over 26,000 homes across London.” British Gas has previously stated that they would earmark specific funding to London under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme: how much this level has changed following the alternations to ECO proposed by government in their recent ECO consultation is not clear, but has been raised in a recent mayoral question.

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London fares worst under government energy efficiency programmes

June 2014: An independent evaluation of the first year (2013) of the operation of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), undertaken by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) for industry trade association Energy UK, has recently been published and highlights the low levels of funding directed to the capital.

The study ‘The ECO: An Evaluation of Year 1‘ includes a comparison of regional distribution of ECO spend and previous energy supplier obligations and reports – that across these major energy efficiency programmes:

London has fared the worst, because although it has the second highest population, it obtained the second lowest number of EEC-2 cavity wall insulation installations (after Scotland), the third lowest number of CERT measures (after Scotland and the North East, which have lower populations), and the third lowest number of HHCRO households (after the East of England and the South West). London has a higher number of CERO households, but relative to its population this is still low.”

The following graph from the CSE report provides an illustration of this:

A summary of the report’s findings are available here. The full report is available here.

Government has previously stated that the ECO would support the uptake of ‘hard to treat’ measures, which would work better for London, and hence a regional target would not be needed (see para 53 onwards from November 2011 DECC ‘Green Deal & ECO consultation document‘). It may be that DECC now needs to look at this issue again under the current ECO consultation.

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Mayor sets out serious concerns over ECO proposals

June 2014: The government announced a review of its ECO (Energy Company Obligation) programme in December 2013, against a backdrop of considerable media coverage, across many months, on the rising costs of consumers’ energy bills – all of which culminated in the Prime Minister’s alleged ‘cut the Green Crap‘ quote .

The ECO sets a legal obligation on energy suppliers to provide a reduction in carbon emissions through supporting the uptake of energy efficiency measures in the domestic sector. Each supplier (effectively the ‘Big 6′) has a specific target assigned to it by government depending on the number of domestic gas and electricity customers they supply. The ECO is paid for through a charge on all household energy bills – which is then collected by suppliers and is in turn used by them to help subsidise energy efficiency programmes – such as reduced cost insulation measures.  Each household is estimated to pay around £50 a year to pay for ECO (approximately – it depends on the level of charge passed on by the supplier to their customer to meet the costs of their ECO target), which amounts to around £1.3bn a year total ECO spend. The proposals put forward in ECO consultation, with reductions in supplier target levels, and ‘stretching out’ of the targets to March 2017 (see below), are thought to reduce the cost of ECO to households by £30-35 ie a small reduction in energy bills (around 2% against an average energy bill of £1,300) – but also an overall reduction in the amount of money going to fund the government’s main efficiency programme. It should be noted that predecessor ‘supplier obligation’ programmes have operated in the UK since the mid-90s (EESoP, EEC, CERT, CESP) and have contributed significantly to helping improve the energy efficiency of UK homes (see section 6.13 of latest DCLG English Housing Survey report here).

Following the December press release, a consultation paper – the ‘Future of the ECO‘ – was released on 5 March, which closed for comments on April 16th.  The consultation set out a wide number of  proposals – of which the major ones were to:

  • Extend the operation of ECO beyond the current March 2015 deadline to March 2017
  • Set new targets for the three sub-obligation targets (CERO, CSCO and HHCRO)
  • Reduce the major sub-target of the ECO – the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) – target by 33 per cent.

The Mayor has posted his response to the government’s proposals highlighting a number of key concerns including that:

Continue reading…

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An invitation to the UK’s most Energy Efficient School Building

May 2014: Interesting news that the UK’s most energy efficiency school building is in Barnet, and was recently awarded winner in the ‘Non Domestic’ building category at the 2014 GreenBuild awards. Grasvenor Avenue Infant School is based on a modular building Schoolhaus design by UK Energy Partners (UKEP), which – as this ENDS case study sets out - was inspired by the James Review, which recommended standardised design and modern off-site building methods for schools. A standardised off-site construction processes enables big cuts in embodied carbon emissions in the production and supply chain and delivers a combined energy use and cost savings of 80% compared with traditional school buildings with a passive index-linked revenue from the integrated solar PV roof.

UKEP are organising a tour of the building on 29 and 30 May. Full details on how to register for a tour on UKEP’s website here.

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“inner-city areas are often the most heat-energy efficient”

21 May 2014“New research shows that the compact, taller buildings typical of inner-city areas are often the most heat-energy efficient – research by LSE Cities at the London School of Economics and the European Institute for Energy Research looked specifically at the role building design can play at the impact of the basic configurations of residential buildings (“urban morphology”) on energy demand. This impact is a result of two principal determinants of the thermal performance of buildings: the level of exposure to sunlight, which allows buildings to absorb passive solar heat; and the relative amount of external walls, which lead to heat losses” – read full Guardian article here.

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London’s first Passivhaus School

March 2014: News that a £5m contract has been awarded “by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for the refurbishment of Stebon Primary School. The school will be the first Passivhaus School in London and only the sixth in the UK to be delivered under the highly sustainable Passivhaus standards, which are more traditionally used in house building.”

A submission to Tower Hamlets council as part of the planning application sets out some detail of how the refurb will seek to achieve a passivhaus standard:

  • The sustainability and energy strategy have informed the building design. Passive design strategies have been adopted and include good orientation, compact building form, low U values, high air tightness, thermal mass, maximizing natural daylight internally, and solar control to southerly facades.
  • Passivhaus utilises passive solar gain and night time purge ventilation in summer, coupled with heat recovery and rigorous thermal and airtightness requirements to greatly reduce energy consumption.

The report goes on to say to “achieve Passivhaus certification requires:

  • Considered form and orientation – typically compact and east-west orientation making Stebon a good contender
  • High levels of insulation
  • Elimination of thermal bridges
  • Air tightness
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR)
  • Winter solar gains
  • Summer natural ventilation with night-time cooling”

An energy statement for the development provides further detail.

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Energy & Green Sky Thinking

March 2014: This year’s Green Sky Thinking programme has been announced and, as with previous years, has a selection of really excellent events focussed on sustainability and the built environment. Lots of fascinating subjects covered – below are links to some of the energy-related talks – check the programme linked below for the full week’s activities. All events take place between 28 April – 2 May.

Refurb, Retrofit or Rebuild – Making London energy efficient for 2018

Cutting the CO2 Out of Construction

When will the Lights Go Out?

Business Attitudes Towards District Heating

Clever Energy: People Power

Making Buildings Work

And a few others – details of which are on the programme, but dates to be confirmed. These include:

The Value of Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

How will we Heat London?

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Assembly calls for action to cut fuel bills for 1.2 million London homes

5 March 2014: London Assembly press release calling “on Mayor Boris Johnson to press Whitehall to reverse cuts to programmes designed to reduce energy consumption in the capital. A motion agreed at a today’s Assembly meeting urges the Mayor to lobby the government to rethink reductions to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and a two year extension to the time limit for energy companies to fulfil the requirements. The Mayor should also lobby ministers to set out a national infrastructure project that will help to cut fuel bills for 1.2 million London homes by 2015.” Read the news release here.

Also today, the government released their consultation on the revised changes to ECO.

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London Energy Efficiency Programme Scrutinised

March 2014: The London Assembly Environment Committee held the first of two oral evidence sessions on progress made by the GLA’s energy and climate programmes. The first of these sessions was held on 6 February and focussed on the Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme, RE:NEW. Evidence was provided by representatives from a number of organisations, including EDF Energy, the Energy Saving Trust, Hillingdon Borough Council and the Mayor’s Housing Advisor. The full transcript can be accessed here – and a webcast can also be viewed here. Points of interest raised during the debate included:

  • The RE:NEW programme is awaiting confirmation they they have been successful in their application to the European Investment Bank’s European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) programme for £2.6m to put in place a support team over a three year period starting from April 2014 (the RE:NEW programme support team is currently operated for the GLA by Capita).
  • RE:NEW is  currently working with Greenwich, Havering, Newham and Westminster, Hyde Housing and Peabody Gallions developing “bigger projects that would be more attractive in terms of bringing in Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding“.
  • Borough responses suggested that RE:NEW was “not very hands-on with project development.” RE:NEW is keen to find out what boroughs are doing but “there is very little support there for boroughs in terms of developing projects and overcoming planning issues.
  • RE:NEW should be instead be focussing on what the GLA could do to ”enhance [borough activities] even further if it wants to deliver ambitious carbon reduction targets
  • Further criticism was targeted at the RE:NEW programme stating that the funding resource was mainly going to Capita : “We see that the resources are actually on those people, basically, for the Capita resource. Local authorities are not really getting the benefit of that on the whole“.
  • An often confusing debate takes place on  how many homes were retrofitted through the RE:NEW programme and how many homes were insulated across London in total. A number of 400,000 homes is quoted by the Mayor’s Housing Advisor during the session. Though not explained, this number is most likely made up of the following: 327,00 treated through the Government’s CERT programme over the period April 2008 – December 2012 (see cell V35 of EST CERT data here), and 70,000 homes visited by the RE:NEW team and provided with ‘easy measures’ over the period July 2011-December 2012 (see MQ here for details). For more on this, see earlier post here.
  • RE:NEW Phase 3 has a target of retrofitting 175,000 homes.

Just ahead of the evidence session – somewhat belatedly – the Mayor published the full evaluation report of the main RE:NEW roll-out phase which ran from July 2011-May 2012 (a summary report had previously been issued – details here).  A second oral evidence session will take place on 26 March, focusing on the Mayor’s decentralised energy programmes, with the Mayor’s energy advisor, Matthew Pencharz, in attendance.

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