Monthly Archives: August 2007

rethinking …

Anyone who has attended one of my presentations or workshops over the last 10 years or so will be aware of my attachment to a great quote from Albert Einstein “we cannot change today’s problems with the same patterns of thought that created those problems in the first place”

Initially this was used to rethink the way we collaborate or integrate (or dont)within the industry, but now of late has more relevance to the way we are addressing environmental and carbon issues.

It was good to see this paradigm  in two recent articles:

Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence commenting in the Guardian yesterday ‘Cutting carbon is a rich fool’s errand’ makes the point…Focusing only on carbon emissions without protecting ecosystems is simply treating the symptoms rather than the causes of global warming.

It has been said that “the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of ecology”, but the economic paradigm now sweeping the world operates as if it were the other way around. Governments, industries and businesses everywhere, apart from a few enlightened exceptions such as in Bhutan, believe the economy comes first; that with economic growth it is possible to manage ecology and clean up the environment. This is at the root of the climate crisis

What does it matter if the forests have gone and the biosphere is polluted?

With money, we can fix these problems.

Our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, although necessary, are of secondary importance. Carbon trading, finding alternatives to fossil fuels and other technological solutions should not be the reason for failing to take steps in protecting the biosphere or of finding ways of living that encourage climate security.

And secondly in the FT Weekend, in an interview,architect Rick Maher, when questioned on his thoughts on ‘current green thinking’ responded  that “you don’t create a problem and then high tech methods to solve it. You need to design the need for energy out of the building in the first place. And it really works”  (my ideal house is a wreck)

All good stuff…


zero carbon Britain ??

Following on from yesterdays post on the Lib Dem’s vision for a zero carbon Britain… one with no fossil fuel cars and a zero carbon built environment by 2050 -Leo Hickman considers the implications in today’s Guardian and rightly points out that the Lib Dems may have stolen the clothes from the other parties, albeit temporarily.

Are we seeing a rising in the ante of carbon  politics? along with a new zeitgeist of green taxes and green mortgages?

The fight is has commenced for the greenest party.  One wonders where the Green Party will position itself, or has it achieved its aim of bringing green issues to the top of the political and corporate agendas?

Lib Dems view on low carbon housing

In what will most likely be the first of many reports, papers and manifestos as we approach conference season and elections, the Lib Dems have set out their vision of a zero-carbon Britain by 2050 when it published the most ambitious blueprint for climate change reform ever produced by a mainstream political party. (Guardian article here)

On housing the blueprint covers

Introducing ‘green mortgages’ to enable people to make their homes more energy efficient. (see previous isite post)

Cut carbon emissions from new buildings by 95 per cent compared with our existing housing stock by ensuring that all new homes have to  be built to the GreenHouse standard no later than 2011

Ensure that the housing stock is completely updated by the year 2050.

Ambitious maybe but the pattern has been set for the other political parties to follow or address.

Lib Dem Zero Carbon Britain from here

Local council leading the way with green technology …

Interesting link and article over at edie.

Also worth following the link there to powerperfector , a voltage optimiser device supplier, which contains, amongst others the following ‘testimonial’:

Energy Manager Wigan MBC Legal and Property Services

‘We have recently installed two powerPerfector’s (a 420 kva and a 280 kva), at our Market Hall in Wigan. The results are staggering, for a 9% reduction in voltage we are experiencing 16% savings in consumption. This amounts to £30,632 p/a (based on 9.074p/kW), with a 14 month payback on investment, figures have been verified on a daily basis utilising half hourly automatic meter readings, so we are satisfied that they are correct. This also means that we are on line to save over 141 tonnes of carbon by the use of the powerPerfector units.

A quick scan of powerperfectors site indicates SME’s may be able to get loans or fundings from the Carbon Trust

the real cost of green building?

A recent report identified high levels of awareness of the issue of sustainable building but low levels of specific knowledge and involvement. It identified three key barriers to addressing energy efficiency in buildings

Lack of information about building energy use and costs
Lack of leadership from professionals and business people in the industry
Lack of know-how and experience as too few professionals have been involved in sustainable building work.

Phil Clarke reported in Building earlier this week:

Study finds professionals misjudging sustainable budgets and underestimating carbon footprint of buildings

Construction and property professionals are overestimating green construction costs by 300%, a new survey has found.


Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities (PDF; 1.9 MB)
Source: World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
From their press release:

Survey finds green costs overestimated by 300% and a need to foster zero net energy construction. Key players in real estate and construction misjudge the costs and benefits of “green” buildings, creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector, a new study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reports.

Respondents to a 1400 person global survey estimated the additional cost of building green at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true cost difference of about 5 percent. At the same time, survey respondents put greenhouse gas emissions by buildings at 19 percent of world total, while the actual number of 40 percent is double this.


Of interest within the report, after a quick scan are:

The EEB vision is a world in which buildings consume zero net energy

Use less, make more, share There are three key elements to achieving zero net energy:
• Use less energy
• Make more energy (locally)
• Share surplus energy (through an intelligent grid)

An Integrated Design Process (IDP) involving all participants in the early design phase of the project.

Behavioral, organizational and financial approaches to overcome barriers:

Encourage interdependence by adopting holistic, integrated approaches among the stakeholders that assure a shared responsibility and accountability toward improved energy performance in buildings and their communitiesMake energy more valued by those involved in the development, operation and use of buildings

Transform behavior by educating and motivating the professionals involved in building transactions to alter their course toward improved energy efficiency in buildings.

Understanding the Merton rule…

There has been a lot of coverage on the Merton Rule this week, with zero champion over at sustainability blog covering events.  here  and here  now, a further article in today’s Guardian attempts to clarify … or not.

Why is this important?

The so called Merton Rule wa introduced by Merton Borough and requires, as a planning requirement, that all new projects to obtain at least 10% of a building’s energy from sustainable sources such as solar or wind power.  The rule is now used by 150 councils across the UK, many using the 10% figure others, like GLA attempting to push for 20%.

A recent and current campaign by the British Property Federation and Home Builders Federation to overturn this ruling led to leaks of a draft planning policy statement which local authorities said would undermine their ability to insist that developers use green technologies.

Meanwhile – an epetition has been started… We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Not allow the abolition of the Merton Rule. There are 51 signatories so far.

CIBSE Carbon clean up for existing facilities …

CIBSE are repeating their carbon clean up 100 day programme again this year, starting on the 12th Sept. Sign up and get help, advice and tools to help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Programmes like this are important as they address carbon and environmental issues of our existing building stock.