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Links for July 14th through July 20th

by Mel Starrs on July 21, 2011

in News

These are my links for July 14th through July 20th:

  • Dezeen » Blog Archive » “Good Design: it all adds up” – RIBA report on benefits of good architecture – “the Royal Institute of British Architects in London has published a report promoting the social and economic benefits of well-designed buildings.
    Entitled Good Design – it all adds up, the report aims to discourage short term cost-cutting in building projects for housing, education, health, workplaces and public spaces.”
  • News Release: Steps to Healthy Planning- Proposals for Action | SPAHG – “This report, called Steps to Healthy Planning: Proposals for Action suggests 12 Action Points for how town planning can improve public health. These identify practical actions that would improve health outcomes and the people or groups that should carry out such actions. It provides a clear and concise way for planning and health professionals to work together.”
  • BRE Group: News – Whilst I keep saying CSH days at DCLG are numbered, BRE’s efforts with planners look like it will live on: “A recent survey undertaken by BRE Global shows that over 40% of local authorities in the UK are specifying sustainable building policies in their plans which will shape the nature of planning policies. In Wales, the national government has specified the use of BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) throughout the country.”
  • Grant Shapps welcomes new group to clear minefield of building standards – Planning, building and the environment – Department for Communities and Local Government – I keep saying CSH’s days are numbered (who’ll give me odds on April 2012 d-day?): “Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today welcomed the appointment of Sir John Harman to a key group looking at reducing the complexity of home building standards and the impact regulations have on the industry.”
  • Eco-homes from the 1970s meet 2016 zero carbon targets | Online News | Building – “A low-energy council housing scheme built in the 1970s could meet 2016 zero carbon targets according to a study published today.
    The homes were designed by Salford University for the local council in the late 1970s and were monitored last year by the university to see if energy performance had deteriorated over time. The research revealed the homes used a quarter of the heating energy of a typical UK home and 60% of the energy needed to heat a home built to 2010 building regulations.
    The homes were commissioned by the council in the 1970s in a bid to reduce fuel poverty. A pair of semi-detached houses and a terrace of six homes were built. A further 200 homes were subsequently built in the 1980’s. According to the research these homes were built within government cost guidelines for social housing at the time.”
  • Smart meters: the verdict | Carbon Smart – Disconcerting findings: “Smart meters with real-time displays of energy consumption yield energy savings of just 3% over two years, according to the results of a series of trials published by Ofgem on Thursday 23 June.”
  • Updated: DECC warned it could ‘blow’ £11.3bn smart meter budget – 30 Jun 2011 – News from BusinessGreen – “DECC has said that the programme could cost £11.3bn while saving £18.6bn by 2030 through reductions in energy use, efficiency savings and environmental benefits.
    The NAO will warn that DECC has underestimated the cost, urging it to strengthen the planning for the rollout to ensure that it does not make irreversible decisions that leave the UK locked in to ineffective technologies.”
  • Google pulls plug on PowerMeter – 29 Jun 2011 – News from BusinessGreen – “The decision could be seen as something of a blow to the smart meter sector, which has seen a raft of IT giants such as Google, Microsoft and Cisco move into the space alongside specialist developers. However, while demand for real time energy monitoring devices is expected to soar in the coming years as governments mandate the roll out of smart meters the technology is still yet to achieve mainstream adoption.”
  • Footprint » Ken Yeang speaks at RIBA annual discourse – Ken Yeang advocates passive, low energy, ecological design using hi-tech and organic principles. We were introduced to his ideas of green design as an integration of four ecological structures:
    grey infrastructure – engineering systems, technology and renewable energy
    green infrastructure – nature, ecology and biodiversity
    red infrastructure – human behaviour
    blue infrastructure – water systems
  • Schools special: Details of fresh James review consultation | Online News | Building – So Gove is taking on board the James Review recommendations including: “Simplifying regulations around school premises, a separate consultation on which will be launched in the autumn.” – what will happen to BREEAM requirement? BREEAM-lite? Something new? Ditched altogether? Will have to wait until Autumn now…
  • Closing the green gap: Are we there yet? – Arup Foresight – “Global rating systems are typically formulaic assessments of green-ness relative to current norms. There may be greater rewards to be reaped from resilient designs anticipating fast-changing priorities, whilst inspiring users to be part of the solution.<br />
    A building in Melbourne recently scored maximum points under the Australian Green Star rating system, and is chasing being the highest scoring LEED and BREEAM rated building in the world. So can we focus on more pressing outcomes now?”
  • BBC News – India’s Tata group to launch ‘world’s cheapest homes’ – “It is [a] quick house built in seven days if you have a patch of land. Basic model of 20 sq metres, with flat roof will cost around 500 euros (32,000 rupees; £440),” Sumitesh Das, Tata Steel’s head of global research is quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.
    The company is also creating plans for slightly larger and more expensive houses, with facilities such as solar panels, according to the Times of India newspaper.
    The company says it is in discussion with state governments and village councils, but plans are at an early stage and it is unclear if the supply chain for building materials for the houses are in place or if the relevant authorities will find the models suitable.
  • Eurostar signals end to carbon offsetting – 17 Jun 2011 – News from BusinessGreen – Eurostar reckons around 20 million flights are taken to destinations “easily accessible by high-speed rail”, and aims to double its passenger numbers by 2015 from about 2.5 million passengers today. It estimates a Eurostar journey produces around a tenth of the CO2 of an equivalent flight between London and Paris or Brussels, but is launching a study to calculate and measure its entire carbon footprint.
  • New Clause 19 – Micro combined heat…: 21 Jun 2011: Public Bill Committees ( – From the Energy Bill debate, interesting figures: “The change to part L of the building regulations, which was undertaken on the watch of a Minister whose name escapes me for now, was quite revolutionary in the difference that a modest change could make to carbon containment over a period of time. The change was that if people were considering installing new boilers in their properties, they should normally install condensing rather than traditional boilers. Yes, the change in regulation shaped and directed, to an extent, in that it backed a particular technology, but within a few years the result of its implementation was that condensing boilers rose from 15% of installations in UK properties to 85%. Each boiler saved 1.5 tonnes of CO2-equivalent compared with its forebears. With 1.5 million boilers sold every year, this has been the single most effective measure for saving CO2 emissions ever passed in this House. That change alone saves some 0.4% of UK annual emissions per year.”
  • News Releases – News & Events – Genetron® Refrigerants – BREEAM Pol 1 calls for GWP<10: “HFO-1234ze is non-flammable, non-ozone depleting and has a global warming potential (GWP) of 6. It can be used in a variety of applications and can replace HFC-134a (which has GWP of 1,430) and HFC-152a (which has a GWP of 124) in aerosol applications and thermal insulating foams, including extruded polystyrene board. It is also being considered to replace HFC-134a for large stationary refrigeration applications.”
  • USGBC Blog: As Green Building Codes and Standards Emerge – Where Do We Go from Here? – “It’s not a choice between codes or rating systems – one is a decidedly rigid mandatory minimum (with a handful of jurisdictional and performance pathways built in) and the other a leadership engagement tool that intentionally (and in its next version, increasingly) steps out of the way of design professionals to innovate and improve green building outcomes. We need both improved minimum codes and voluntary beyond-code rating systems to get the job done.”
  • Green Space in Cities: What’s a Tree Really Worth? – “Initial findings have thrown up some big numbers. They suggest that Torbay’s 818,000 trees have a combined structural value of about £218 million. They store carbon at a rate of 4,200 tonnes a year, a sequestration service worth nearly £1.5 million in total.”
  • RIBA panel on Retrofit for the Future – Hattie reports on a Retrofit for the Future event. Really looking forward to the data from this TSB project (will be at least a year yet)