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Government faces calls to raise Zero Carbon Homes standards

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MPs are being urged to back amendments to the infrastructure bill today to “restore” the government’s Zero Carbon Homes standards, which are set to come in next year.

The UK had been on track to deliver “genuinely zero carbon homes for new build in 2016”. However, according to a group of organisations, including WWF, the Renewable Energy Association and The Solar Trade Association, the standards have been watered down to such an extent that current proposals will save just a third of the carbon of homes built to 2006 standards.

The infrastructure bill creates powers for developers to pay into a pot instead of delivering carbon-cutting measures onsite. The group argues that this mean purchasers of new homes will effectively be paying a carbon tax without enjoying the lower energy bills onsite measures can deliver.

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, commented, “Zero Carbon Homes is in danger of becoming meaningless, with the watering down of standards meaning homes built after 2016 will need retrofitting in the future, storing up problems which will be more expensive to deal with.”

Emma Pinchbeck, head of climate and energy policy at WWF, also noted that acting now could save money in the future, both in terms of retrofitting and energy bills.

“It just doesn’t make sense to make keeping our homes warm and reducing our carbon emissions harder than it needs to be,” she added.

The UK Green Building Council has also stated that there is still time to deliver zero carbon homes by 2016 despite a watering down of the standard and uncertainty.

Paul King, chief executive of the organisation, said, “With a year to go until house builders are required to deliver zero carbon homes, we’re not where we need to be. The agreed standard has been significantly diluted and a question mark still hangs over how Allowable Solutions will be delivered.

“The clock is ticking but it’s not too late to rescue this world leading policy. One of the key priorities for the government in May must be to set the zero carbon policy back on track.”

Photo: Alex Pepperhill via Flickr 

Further reading:

Zero-carbon homes pledge to be dropped in Queen’s speech

Government consultation on zero-carbon homes welcomed by industry

Cameron’s new homes pledge ‘counter-productive’, says UK Green Building Council

Green building industry: zero-carbon buildings have ‘vast economic benefits’

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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