Tag Archives: Energy Efficiency

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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London office energy use

February 2014: A new report produced by the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Zero Carbon Non Domestic Task Group examines the case for action supporting zero carbon non domestic buildings by 2019. The report includes the following information on energy consumption in London office buildings.

“Figure 3 demonstrates the impact of building regulations in a portfolio of London office buildings constructed since 1998. In particular the 50% decrease in ‘landlord and shared services’ energy is consistent; landlord and shared service energy is, in the majority, regulated energy which is covered by the building regulations. The variation in occupier direct energy use reflects the variation in densities, small power and hours of operation.”

The report can be downloaded here.

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London housing energy efficiency evidence session

February 2014: On 6 February, the London Assembly Environment Committee held an oral evidence session on the Mayor’s housing energy efficiency retrofit programme, RE:NEW, and its progress to achieving its stated CO2 targets. Details of the evidence session are set out here. A background paper to the evidence session is here. The session was available on webcast and can be viewed here.

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Further support for RE:NEW programme

January 2014: The GLA has decided to seek additional support in its bid to DECC’s Green Deal Communities Fund. The approval form states that:

“The GLA is seeking approval to commission Create and Sustain Limited through a Single Source Action to provide services up to a maximum value of £27,000 to support the RE:NEW programme from November to March 2014.

The key aims for this period are:

  • to develop the GLA’s bid to the DECC Green Deal Communities Fund
  • to liaise with, and gain buy in from key stakeholders including London boroughs, social landlords and delivery agents as necessary to complete the bid
  • to work with the London Landlord Accreditation Service to develop the bid
  • to provide additional support to the RE:NEW Programme which could include:
  • finalising the MoUs with Energy Suppliers
  • support with the paperwork and processes needed to establish the project management resource if successful with the DECC funding
  • support a review of the RE:NEW Framework

The £20m Green Deal Communities Fund was launched by Government in July 2013 – details here and then, in December 2013, as part of the announced changes to ECO, DECC stated that the Government “will increase the funds available to local authorities this year through Green Deal Communities from £20 million to £80 million, to help support ‘street-by-street’ programmes for hard-to-treat homes.If London were to secure funding on a rough population basis – as much as £10m from this new fund could be directed to the capital’s energy efficiency retrofit programmes.

The RE:NEW programme is also presently supported by Capita (see here and here) until the end of March 2014.

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Huge budget cuts planned to Mayor’s environment programme?

20 December 2013: The Mayor today published for consultation his budget for the GLA group for 2014-15 (press release).
The budget document states that a “new look GLA business plan has been published which includes a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) covering all main Mayoral policy and programme activities to be delivered by the GLA.” It’s welcome to see that amongst the 10 “major GLA programmes supporting the Mayor’s ambitions” [p7]  a key deliverable will be “retrofitting more of London’s homes and public workplaces, saving carbon and cutting bills”referring to the RE:NEW and RE:FIT programmes respectively.

Page 14 of the document also states that:
“The Mayor is continuing to work towards improving London’s environment.
Energy supply and master planning is key to delivering sustainable development for London’s economy. Investment will continue through a Decentralised Energy programme to help bring decentralised energy projects to the market.”

At the same time however, it appears from the draft budget that the ‘Development, Enterprise & Environment’ Directorate is facing a massive reduction in its funding from the Mayor. No separate breakdown for the ‘Environment’ section is provided, but the data (table below) indicates that:

  • The draft 2013/14 budget for this Directorate seems to be have massively overestimated  - the current forecast outturn being 25% lower than predicted. It’s not clear however what is contributing to this huge underspend.
  • The level of underspend must have contributed to a significantly reduced future budget for the department – from a forecasted £31.2m just over a year ago, down to £19.9m for the forthcoming year (a 36% reduction)
  • And the 15/16 plan for the ‘Development, Enterprise & Environment’ Directorate is down to just £10.7m – a 66% reduction from the forecasted 13/14 budget
  • The planned reduction in budget for this Directorate far exceeds all others, some of which – like the Mayor’s Office – will remain static over the three year period.

There’s unfortunately to detail whatsoever within the budget document on the specific environment-team spend, or of future funding going to individual programmes. No further information is provided on the KPIs for the 10 ‘key deliverables’  (as mentioned in para 1 above) – however – future RE:NEW and RE:FIT programme targets to 2016 were recently set out in the Mayor’s draft Housing Strategy. Additionally, an interesting exchange on the Mayor’s retrofit programme RE:NEW was recorded in a November 2013 evidence session on the draft budget to the London Assembly Budget & Performance Committee (see page 17 of transcript) – also copied below:

Continue reading…

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RE:NEW targets set out

December 2013: The Mayor’s recently released draft housing strategy states that “The capital also has some of the worst housing conditions in the country, thus prioritising estate based regeneration through improving the quality and energy efficiency of existing homes remains a key priority. To achieve this the Mayor will make available funding to ensure that by 2016 all council landlords will be in a position to independently resolve their Decent Homes backlog, and will support affordable housing providers to retrofit their entire stock for improved energy performance by 2020.”

Section 2.6 of the consultation paper directly addresses ‘Retrofitting and improving energy efficiency’ and provides some useful information on the Mayor’s ambitions for his flagship environmental programme, RE:NEW:

“To increase retrofit numbers under the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal schemes, the RE:NEW programme has put in place measures to assist all large landlords in London to identify works that can be carried out to their stock, procure the works, access finance and manage contractors. This support will continue until at least 2016, maintaining the momentum for the successor ECO arrangements. The GLA is keen to expand retrofit activity on a more strategic area, or even whole borough, basis. The Green Deal also represents an innovative way to finance energy efficiency works which saves money for individual households. The Mayor will continue to promote the opportunities that the Green Deal offers to Londoners across all tenures. As Table 1 shows, the projected rate of delivery in London is therefore expected to increase significantly over the next three years. “

All of this may however change markedly following the Government’s recent announcement that it will scale back the level of support going to insulation through the ECO as well as significantly reduce the level of solid wall insulation (SWI) installations: the boost in support to SWI systems was often quoted by Government as being a huge advantage to the Mayor’s retrofit ambitions in London due to the high prevalence of solid wall homes here.

Further updated details on the RE:NEW programme.

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Getting the most from ECO and RE:NEW in London

December 2013: Presentations and an audio record of the the recent Future of London workshop on the ECO and RE:NEW have recently been posted online. This was a really helpful event include contributions from the GLA’s interim RE:NEW Support Team on the range of areas they provide help to London local authorities with – see slide below (and for further details on their activities see an earlier post here), Havering Borough Council, EDF Energy, and Agility ECO – an interesting new consultancy working with local authorities on the ECO, made up of previous supplier obligation experts at British Gas.

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RE:NEW – Progress & Setbacks Outlined

December 2013: The latest GLA Investment Performance Board meeting includes a useful progress report on the various Mayoral delivery programmes. ‘Project Performance Report‘ paper 10b Appendix 2 includes information of some challenges currently being faced by the Mayor’s residential energy efficiency scheme RE:NEW. The paper states:

Delivery of the RE:NEW Phase II carbon targets are significantly delayed and contractors will miss their contractual obligations. This is largely due to delays in the availability of ECO. The mitigation options are being reviewed including withholding performance payments and reallocating funding to the RE:NEW Support Team to reduce any shortfall in achieving the carbon targets. This combined with  a delay in having to wait for confirmation from the EIB for ELENA funding prior to commencing procurement of the full RE:NEW Support Team means the 2013/14 carbon targets may not be achieved…”

The delays have led to the project being graded an ‘amber’ rating under the paper’s ‘traffic light’ performance system.

A few days later, an update paper on RE:NEW was presented to November’s GLA Housing Infrastructure Group monthly meeting. This paper sets out:

  • RE:NEW has retrofitted over 99,000 homes to date since it was created in 2009
  • Over the next three years, RE:NEW will aim to support the letting of contracts that will save approximately 186,000 tonnes CO2 per annum through retrofitting approximately 232,000 homes
  • Capita Symonds were appointed to operate an interim RE:NEW Support Team – and began work in June of this year, with the GLA’s £150k funding covering programme activities until the end of December 2013. The RE:NEW paper proposes extending this funding by up to £200k for the Support Team to continue activities until the end of March 2014.
  • In contrast to the Investment Board’s mention of programme delays, the Housing Group’s paper relates that “progress made by the [RE:NEW Support] team to date has been excellent. The target of 1,500 tonnes of CO2 saved has been substantially exceeded; two contracts have been signed, with Brent Housing Partnership and LB Lewisham representing a total capital value of £24 million, and a saving of 4,333 tonnes CO2 per annum. There are a further 6 projects in procurement equating to a further £17.5 million capital investment and a saving of almost 6,000 tonnes CO2. This includes projects from Tower Hamlets Homes, LB Wandsworth and LB Havering. A further 17 boroughs and housing associations are engaged with the Support Team at the earlier stages of project development.”

The Housing paper also relates that the GLA is hoping to secure up to £3.85 million from the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) ELENA programme to procure the full RE:NEW Support Team for three years”. The funding process with the EIB has however taken longer than anticipated, leading to the necessity to provide funding to an interim support team.

The paper interestingly also sets out risks associated with not securing this ELENA financing, as well as not being able to access sufficient ECO funds as a consequence of the Government’s recent pronouncements on the supplier obligation energy efficiency programme. The paper states “Changing the ECO model would require secondary legislation…The [GLA] Environment Team is currently developing a proposed lobbying approach to help to address this risk, which may include lobbying for a regional target. If successful this could improve the follow [sic - must be 'flow] of funding for projects.”

The paper highlights that a formal submission to the EIB has now been made and “funding confirmed in principle” should be sometime this month. Hopefully the EIB will be presenting the GLA with a welcome Xmas present this year – watch this space!

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Government announcement on Energy Efficiency…

1 December 2013: …is not anywhere on Number 10 or DECC’s websites but behind a ‘paywall’ in today’s edition of the Sun on Sunday. But is now also reproduced below:

Cameron: We can help the poorest and stick to our green policies

Coalition on pledge to keep energy bills down

By DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, and NICK CLEGG, Deputy Prime Minister

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband rocked Westminster with his pledge of a 20-month freeze on energy bills.
While ministers scoffed it wouldn’t work, they were stung by its popular appeal with voters.

Now after two months of head-scratching, they have come up with an alternative plan to keep prices down.

Here the Prime Minister and his Lib Dem deputy reveal plans to slash £50 off the average bill – and explain how they’ll do it:

BECAUSE of the hard work of the British people, and because we have stuck to our long-term economic plan, Britain’s economy is now on the mend – and we’re determined to help families in every way we can.

The Coalition is offering real help in these hard times: income tax cuts, a council tax freeze, a fuel duty freeze and free school meals for young children.

We have only been able to do this because we have taken difficult decisions and our economic plan is working.

This week, we will announce further help: proposals that will be worth around £50 on average to energy bill-payers.

We’re doing it without taking any help away from poor families or sacrificing our green commitments; and in a way that will keep Britain’s lights on in the long-term too.

When you look at your bill you see it is made up of various costs. Some of these we can’t control.

Most of what you pay is determined by the price of energy in the global market – the gas and oil we’re buying from the Middle East or Europe.

Politicians in the UK cannot wave a magic wand over these prices. To pretend you can is fantasy politics.

But there are bits that government can control – the parts of your bill that go to helping the poorest families heat their homes and to making Britain more energy efficient.

Some say we should drop these commitments entirely but we do not agree. As we approach winter, we refuse to turn our backs on the worst-off families. And if we abandon our green commitments, it is our children and grandchildren who will pay the price.

This Coalition Government has never pursued quick fixes today when they’ll hurt people tomorrow - and we’re not going to start now.

So we are going to stick to these commitments but we are not going to ask you to pay for all of them through your bills.

The two million poorest families who currently receive a discount on gas and electricity will continue to do so, but Government will pay for it. We’re able to afford this because we have cracked down on tax avoidance – leaving us more money to help struggling families. We are also changing the way we fund improving energy efficiency in Britain’s homes.

We will all be better off when our homes lose less heat, so we want the energy companies to help insulate as many homes as possible over the next decade.

But – apart from in the worst-off homes – we’re going to spread the costs of these programmes over a longer time frame, reducing people’s bills.

And to make sure we carry on cutting enough carbon, the Government will pay for new incentives for people to insulate their homes.

Alongside the Green Deal, when you buy a new home you could get up to £1,000 from Government to spend on energy-saving measures – equivalent to half the stamp duty on the average house – or even more for particularly expensive measures.

It is an all-round win. Better insulation means cheaper bills, it will cut carbon emissions and boost British businesses who provide these services.

On top of that, we will offer cash incentives to landlords of the least energy-efficient properties so that, when they are between tenants, they can better insulate their properties. And we’ll also make sure our schools and hospitals are more energyefficient, too.

Taken together, these things mean we will meet our green commitments and support those employed in the insulation industry but, crucially, without putting the cost on energy customers.

Labour have promised a temporary price freeze on energy bills. But they’re taking people for fools. Energy companies would hike up prices both before and after the freeze – so families would end up paying more.

Not only that, by cutting investment in green energy, their freeze would threaten thousands of jobs.

Labour’s con is the worst of all worlds. When an offer sounds too good to be true it usually is.

The Coalition has come up with a serious and credible plan that actually works.

By taking the time to get this right, we’ve got the best outcome all round. No poor family will lose a penny of help.

Our clean energy sector will get the investment it needs, the lights will stay on and we will cut just as much carbon as we planned.

Instead of a fake giveaway, we’ve found another way to support Britain’s hard-pressed families when they need it most.

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