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Links for February 23rd through March 1st

by Mel Starrs on March 2, 2011

in News

These are my links for February 23rd through March 1st:

  • The Low Carbon Kid: Vital new tool sorts out the climate-friendly from climate-hostile materials – Brilliant overview post from David on the ICE database, which means now I don’t have to write one. Read the whole thing: “The widely used and authoritative ICE Database – ‘Embodied Carbon: the Inventory of Carbon & Energy (ICE)’ – is aimed at the manufacturing, construction and refurbishment industries, including designers, architects and policymakers”
  • Pre-application consultation with communities – Planning, building and the environment – Department for Communities and Local Government – “As a starting point for discussion, one option is that it could apply only to large scale developments. These are:
    residential development which could provide 200 or more new residential units, or (where the number of residential units to be constructed is not specified) with a site ares of 4 hectares or more
    other developments which would provide 10,000 square metres or more of new floorspace, or with a site area of two hectares or more”
  • Warning on wood prices – Subsidies – worth up to four times the current price levels of timber residues and post consumer wood waste – are being paid to the biomass industry to burn wood to create electricity. Mr Scheiblreiter said that this “well-meaning but ill conceived” legislation on the generation of renewable energy is squeezing the availability of the core raw material and increasing prices.
  • RICS releases sustainability report on the financial performance of green office buildings in the USA | Press Releases | Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – “RICS has announced the release of a new report, ‘Sustainability and the Dynamics of Green Building’: New Evidence on the Financial Performance of Green Office Buildings in the USA.”
  • Next Generation: Home – “NextGeneration is an annual sustainability benchmark of the top 25 UK home builders by size. It enables investors, the government and home builders to make better investment, policy and strategy decisions to deliver more sustainable new homes.”
  • Energy efficiency can drastically reduce energy costs | Guardian Sustainable Business | guardian.co.uk – Anyone know where the data backing this up is? The exec summary says renewables excluded: “But – and it’s a big “but” – the real picture is much better than that. We took a close look at 1,000 energy efficiency projects the Carbon Trust has been involved with and found that companies can expect to see an IRR of 48% on average and payback within three years. In the retail sector, according to our figures, the average IRR from energy efficiency projects leaps to 82%. Few other investments get anywhere near these rates of return.”<br />
    From the linked report: “The investments required to save 15% of energy bills have an average IRR of 48%, well above the minimum requirement set by businesses, which averages 11.5%.”
  • The Low Carbon Kid: Unsexy renewable energy technology is turned on… and will one day beat solar and wind in the UK – Great article on AD (anaerobic digestion).
  • UK-GBC calls on industry to take carbon lead | Magazine News | Building – I like this: “In a major change of direction Paul King, chief executive of the UK-GBC, said the sustainability body was creating a “business plan” to show how tackling carbon emissions was profitable, rather than relying on the government to enforce or subsidse change.
    The UK-GBC is also calling on its 330 members to disclose their carbon footprints and calculate full-life carbon for buildings as part of a drive to cut the emissions of the built environment by 50% by 2020.”
  • Green Building Law Blog : Green Building Lawyer & Attorney : Shari Shapiro: Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel Law Firm : Environmental, LEED – “As a policy measure, the green bonds were destined to be ineffective. For a green incentive to be truly beneficial, it needs to set out goals that stretch its recipients to higher levels of sustainability, but not so pie-in-the-sky that they create an incentive to greenwash their projects. This is a tough balance to strike. Doing so requires that the regulatory bodies have a good understanding of the state of the green market that they are looking to incentivize. It is not enough to throw public money at any project claiming to be green.”
  • BEAT2 – via Joan Ko: “The Biomass Environmental Assessment Tool (BEAT2), provided by Defra, the Biomass Energy Centre and the Environment Agency as an aid to assessing the likely environmental impact of a biomass energy project”
  • Footprint » Feed-in tariff spurs hydropower – Limited opportunities out there for hydro, but a good example of it working: “This is all made possible because micro hydropower is supported by the feed-in tariff. With a figure of 9.4p guaranteed for 20 years, Horton predicts the net contribution to the company will be £15,000. The turbine is predicted to produce 50,000kWH/year, almost a third of the company’s electricity requirements. All the company’s cutting equipment is located at the stoneworks, where electrical consumption of 180,000kWH/year costs approximately £18,000. Any electricity not consumed by the stoneworks will be exported to the grid.”
  • UK Energy Research Centre : Buildings don’t use energy: people do – I’m wondering if there’s danger of another Jevons-type paradox here – if we know behaviour is the problem, we might stop good design?: ““In the face of climate change, purely architectural solutions are necessary, but by themselves, not sufficient, said Dr Janda, “The UK government has declared that new homes must be zero-carbon by 2016. Experience with “zero energy” homes shows us that designers cannot do this alone. They will need to work with users to deliver comprehensive energy reductions. Preparing the public for this interactive role is a job in itself – and one that architects are well placed to deliver.””
  • The climate changer | Analysis | Inside Housing – An old interview but interesting: “…‘FITs could make a dent in carbon reduction if everyone did it [used PV] – but it’s an expensive way of making that dent. There may be cheaper ways of doing it. As we are in the middle of reviewing microgeneration and without completing that review I wouldn’t want to take a firm position – but it’s fair to say there are questions being asked.’ Reading between the lines, and considering Mr Kennedy’s track record for influencing green policy, this does not bode well for the PV sector – especially when contrasted with his views on ground and air source heat pumps… However, Mr Kennedy looks to have chosen his side: heat pumps. He even wants one in his own home. ‘With heat pumps we are pretty confident that we should be trialling them through the next decade and demonstrating how they work in the UK,’ he says. ‘Beyond that, most houses and organisations, when replacing boilers around 2020 [for example], should be switching to electric heat pumps.’”