Tag Archives: Energy Efficiency

London Business Energy Challenge Launched

August 2014: The Mayor’s Energy Advisor, Matthew Pencharz, writes on the GLA website “the Mayor is launching the Business Energy Challenge: a programme to stimulate action, encourage competition between companies taking that action and recognise what is being done by businesses in reducing the carbon intensity of their London portfolios.”
To find out more about the Business Energy Challenge, read the blog by the GLA’s Assistant Director for Environment, Stephen Tate. To enter the awards please email: BEC@london.gov.uk

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RE:NEW sets out programme to 2017

6 August 2014: There have been a number of major updates to the  Mayor’s flagship home energy efficiency programme RE:NEW, which has been neatly set out in the August meeting of the GLA’s Housing Investment Group. These include:

  • Following a successful bid for funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB), RE:NEW was awarded €3,016,440 (£2,513,700) on 15 July 2014
  • This funding is being matched by a 10 per cent contribution by the GLA of €335,160 (£279,300), taking the funding for a three year support team to €3,351,600 (£2,793,000). The funding will provide a RE:NEW Support Team to 14 July 2017.
  • As with the previous phase of the RE:NEW, the programme is to be delivered by Capita Symonds, who were the successful bidder in an OJEU-compliant procurement
  • Capita will catalyse investment of £352 million through supporting retrofit to 175,000 properties in London over the next three years. This intervention is the largest and most ambitious retrofit programme anywhere in the UK and will save 93,000 annual tonnes of carbon by 2017.
  • An incentivisation model is built into the contract based on these three key performance indicators (KPI) and Capita have committed to achieving these through putting 20% of fees at risk.
  • Below is the three year KPI profile.
  • A RE:NEW Support Team ITT Schedule of Requirement provides additional programme aims, objectives and proposed benefits
  • A new GLA webpage sets out a revised and comprehensive list of RE:NEW Support Team Specialist Services available to local authorities.

The London Assembly has highlighted patchy progress reporting from the RE:NEW team to its members over the past few years (see here and here). In response to this criticism, the Mayor has now committed to providing quarterly reports.

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Focus on London’s Private Rented Sector and Energy Efficiency

August 2014: An important Early Day Motion (EDM) for London is currently doing the rounds in the House of Commons. EDM 95 ‘Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for Private Rented Homes‘ sets out:

  • the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has over five times more homes in EPC Bands F and G than the social housing sector
  • nearly half the PRS households living in Band F and G properties are in fuel poverty
  • the Energy Act 2011, placed a duty on the Government to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for the PRS by April 2018
  • the EDM calls on the Government to ensure that the regulations are made clear and enforceable by specifying Band E as the minimum standard in all cases, and by keeping exemptions to an absolute minimum.

Suprisingly, only 4 London MPs have as yet signed the EDM:

  • Corbyn, Jeremy (Labour) Islington North
  • Jackson, Glenda (Labour) Hampstead and Kilburn
  • Love, Andrew (Labour) Edmonton
  • McDonnell, John (Labour) Hayes and Harlington

The Mayor’s recent consultation on a London Housing Strategy sets out how critical the PRS is to London and the challenges faced by Londoners living in rented accommodation. These include:

  • Rents are higher in the capital, with the median monthly rent for a private rented home at £1,300, compared with a national average of £595.20 Private sector tenants in London spend an average of 36% of their gross household income on rent.
  • the proportion of private renting households with children has increased sharply, from 19% to 29% between 2001 and 2011, indicating a growing reliance on this sector by families.
  • Retrofitting in the private rented sector has always been challenging, but the Mayor remains committed to seeing progress.

Together with the knowledge of the poorer levels of energy efficiency in rental properties, London clearly has much to do to help tackle energy costs and fuel poverty in the PRS.

The Mayor has introduced a ‘London Rental Standard‘ (updated in May 2014) setting out a voluntary set of minimum standards that the Mayor expects from landlords, managing agents and letting agents that operate in London’s private rented sector. Though London’s PRS faces particular stresses on energy, the Standard does not go above the national regulation requirements but simply points to the Energy Act’s defined minimum standard on energy efficiency:

  • Energy efficiency: landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them by the Energy Act 2011 especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.

And, in relation to this Energy Act 2011 duties, in July DECC issued a consultation on the of the introduction of the Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations setting out a series of questions around the scope and implementation of the regulations (with a deadline for responses of 2 September 2014). Minutes from a working group that lead to the development of the consultation can be viewed here.

London’s particular challenges are not picked up anywhere in the consultation document or impact assessment. Delivering energy efficiency to London’s PRS was however looked at in a National Energy Action (NEA) seminar earlier this year, which highlighted London’s added logistical, demographic and architectural challenges. Presentations from the event can be viewed here.

Much more information on the PRS is set out in the April 2014 ‘Housing In London‘ evidence base document.

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Boris on energy, marmite and marmalade

August 2014: The Mayor provided the following insight in his latest #AskBoris Twitter session.

I quite liked this – and so did several others it seems – with the issue picked up in the Telegraph, Fox News,and Evening Standard.

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Lewisham Free Home Energy Makeover

August 2014: Lewisham Council is looking for “a home we can use to showcase energy efficiency measures. We will install improvements worth up to £10,000 free of charge to make your home less energy hungry. This might be insulation for your walls, roof, doors or windows; more efficient lighting or heating or even renewable energy installed so you can generate your own energy. You’ll get a free assessment of your home to help you decide which measures you want installed.”

The deadline for entries is 31 August 2014.

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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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