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Links for March 19th through March 25th

by Mel Starrs on March 26, 2010

in News

These are my links for March 19th through March 25th:

  • Climate science: Spin, science and climate change | The Economist – "…the ambiguities of science sit uncomfortably with the demands of politics. Politicians, and the voters who elect them, are more comfortable with certainty. So “six months to save the planet” is more likely to garner support than “there is a high probability—though not by any means a certainty—that serious climate change could damage the biosphere, depending on levels of economic growth, population growth and innovation.” Politics, like journalism, tends to simplify and exaggerate. Hence the advertisements that the British government has been running, using nursery rhymes…<br />
    Such an approach may, in the short term, have encouraged some voters to support measures to combat climate change. But implying that Britain’s children face some sort of Saharan future is wrong, and dangerous. This week Britain’s ASA slapped the government for its infantile advertisements. <br />
    Where there is plainly an urgent need for change is the way in which governments use science to make their case."
  • Neighbors Oppose Green Label for the Software Mogul Mitch Kapor’s Big House – NYTimes.com – When the house won planning approval earlier this year, many neighbors were surprised — not so much by the size of the house, or by its sleek design, but by the fact that, under Berkeley regulations, the house will qualify as “green.” In Berkeley, building proposals are evaluated on a “green point” scale, earning credit for such eco-conscious features as low-flow shower heads and insulation. A house with more than 60 points is labeled green, regardless of its size.
  • News : NDS – Business Minister, Ian Lucas, said “London will be a world-leading centre for energy efficient buildings, specialising in retrofitting activity. The variety of buildings across London means that there will be a wide range of highly exportable skills. This position of global leadership will help create wealth for London and the UK economy by providing market opportunities for businesses and inward investors, and jobs for Londoners. “The opportunity to develop and demonstrate solutions for the refurbishment of homes and commercial buildings will help the construction sector to innovate in order to retain, as well as expand, its current market position.” Initially, the programme will include a range of projects aligning nearly £90million funding already committed by the RDAs involved: the London Development Agency (LDA) will lead the LCEA programme, working in collaboration with the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).
  • Sustainability is a RESULT (not a reason) | Simcoe Consulting – 2. Results (like sustainability) can be measured, reasons cannot. I can measure the results of a recycling program, I cannot measure the reasons I had a veggie burger for lunch. Reasons, on the other hand, mainly appeal to your psyche and the the outside influences on you. People will say you the reason you should make your lighting energy-efficient is sustainability. Wrong. The reason you should do it is that it will save you money.
  • Emerging Findings | Policies | BIS – Worth reading – easily digestible. "On 17 March the Low Carbon Construction Innovation and Growth Team, chaired by Chief Construction Adviser, Paul Morrell, published its Emerging Findings (PDF, 1.7 Mb)."
  • The overpopulation myth « Prospect Magazine – "Let’s look at carbon dioxide emissions: the biggest current concern because of climate change. The world’s richest half billion people—that’s about 7 per cent of the global population—are responsible for half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 per cent of the population are responsible for just 7 per cent of emissions. Virtually all of the extra 2bn or so people expected on this planet in the coming 30 or 40 years will be in this poor half of the world. Stopping that, even if it were possible, would have only a minimal effect on global emissions, or other global threats."
  • Challenges for energy and buildings research: objectives, methods and funding mechanisms – Building Research & Information – "This commentary reflects on a series of strategic questions facing the energy and buildings research community and research funding bodies in the UK. These include the problems of research capacity and funding, the need to find a new balance between competition and cooperation between research groups, and a need for a renewed focus on the empirical performance of buildings. The authors argue that conventional distinctions between research, development and the deployment of technologies are inappropriate for the built environment. A wider range of approaches to research is needed to enable researchers to engage more effectively with stakeholders throughout the research, development, and deployment process, to reduce the distinction between research and knowledge transfer, and to reduce the length of learning cycles. "
  • Report suggests behavioural changes cancel out green refits – Behavioural economics finally hits UK building research: "The framing of the problem of energy demand and CO2 emissions is crucial to its eventual success. The way in which technical interventions in buildings, such as higher insulation standards, improved boiler efficiencies or integrated renewable energy technologies, can directly affect carbon emissions is in principle relatively well understood. Yet it is an unavoidable fact that, despite many technical improvements to the UK building stock, CO2 levels continue to rise. There are many reasons for this. As well as consumers turning up the heat, some increases in emissions can be ascribed to economic growth, which leads to more or larger dwellings, which tend, over time, to contain more electrical items, and items that are also more energy intensive. There are a number of entangled and interacting economic, technical, social and behavioural factors at play."
  • Building4Change : Morrell says industry faces biggest change since Victorian times – "The review of the low carbon construction innovation and growth team (IGT) aims to identify how construction can best deliver the future carbon reduction commitments for 2020 and beyond. It will publish its final report later in the year, including recommendations to government to help inform policy development.<br />
    Issues affecting non-domestic buildings are:<br />
    the specific challenges of addressing the existing stock, and particularly the problem of frequently separate ownership and occupation<br />
    the need to stimulate market demand for products and works (new build and retrofit) designed for carbon reduction<br />
    a linked need for innovative means of financing the transition to low carbon<br />
    adoption of project level decision-making on the basis of appraisals founded on a whole life approach."
  • All Party Urban Development Group|Home – The All Party Urban Development Group’s new report "Next Steps: A Regeneration Agenda for the Next Government" has been released. It sets out four important measures which a new government needs to implement if it is to safeguard regeneration over the next 10 years.<br />
    Based on research, the report recommends that:<br />
    1. Public sector investment should be focused on the areas that need it most.<br />
    2. Business rates should be localised and tax increment financing (TIF) should be introduced.<br />
    3. Planning reform should be limited after the first year of the next government and planning performance agreements (PPAs) should be used more.<br />
    4. There should be a focus on increasing the housing supply and adjusting stamp duty to encourage greater investment in the private rented sector.
  • Socialreporter | Green Valleys show the way to Mass Localism – NESTA's guide to Mass Localism:<br />
    # Establish and promote a clear, measurable outcome<br />
    # Presume a community capacity to innovate<br />
    # In the early stages, challenge and advice is more valuable than cash<br />
    # Identify existing barriers to participation and then remove them<br />
    # Don’t reward activity, reward outcomes