Category Archives: legislation

What is Green Deal: the hard, the soft, the CSR and the terminology.

Just what is Green Deal? Associated with my support for organisations developing strategies and implementation plans for ‘transition’ to eco refit or green deal work, the following documents are proving very useful indeed.

Getting Ready for Green Deal (Fairsnape and PBEnergy)  Is your organisation ready and equipped to work in green deals? Check against our top tips.  Time to green your board. It is absolutely essential that your Green Deal approaches are fully supported and sponsored by a board level director or equivalent. Green Deal has to be a key element of your CSR and Business strategy, not a bolt-on or suck and see approach.

What is the Green Deal and how will it work? ( Gives a general overview of what will be involved in Green Deal, who it is aimed at and useful terminology

Behaviour Change and Energy Use (Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team). Its not all hard technology and finance as this recent publication demonstrates. Energy reduction alongside Green Deal is one of behaviour change, nudge approaches and good CSR understandings.

This paper draws on evidence from behavioural economics and psychology to outline a new approach to enabling people, at home and at work, to reduce their energy consumption and reduce their bills in the process.

Behaviourally based changes that reduce emissions have major advantages. First, the benefits can be very fast, unlike major infrastructure changes that can take years, or even decades – a 1% gain today is worth more than a 1% gain tomorrow. Second, they can be highly cost-effective. Third, they can provide savings and other benefits directly to citizens

Green skills ‘essential’ to carbon-conscious building industryRecent Guardian Sustainable Business article.

Green Deal Terminology

Improver – The household, business or community that carries out energy saving measures through the Green Deal.

Green Deal Provider – This is the organisation funding the Green Deal. They could be your utility supplier or commercial companies, charities or social landlords.

Accredited Advisor – This is the person who recommends energy saving measures that could be carried out on an improver’s property. The advisor would document the energy saving measures on an Energy Performance Certificate which he would pass on to the Green Deal Provider and Improver.

Accredited Installer – Approved contractor who carries out measures recommended by the accredited advisor. The Green Deal provider could be the Accredited Installer but could also contract this work out. Whoever the Accredited Installer is the contractual agreement is always between the Improver and the Green Deal Provider.

The Green Deal Plan – The Green Deal Provider offers the Improver a Green Deal Plan. This includes arranging an accredited advisor and installer. It also includes the financial and contractual agreement between the Green Deal Provider and Improver.

The Golden Rule – The financial savings derived from the Green Deal energy saving measures recommended by the accredited advisor must be equal to or more than the cost of implementing the energy saving measures and the repayments must not be longer than the expected life span of the measure.

For more on Green Deal awareness of support 

Ten tips: building green for contractors on a budget

Ever-changing regulations surrounding environmental policy require contractors to re-examine business practices on a regular basis. Unfortunately, contractors are left to interpret a great deal of industry regulations on their own. Among these confounding regulations are those concerning environmental protection.

Guest blogger, Kirsten Bradleyworking to educate professionals and their lawyers about construction industry regulations in the USA has the following advice … and although USA focused, these tips make good sense elsewhere … 

Once contractors have worked their way through the legal jargon found in many environmental policies, they might feel overwhelmed about what exactly their responsibilities are. Fortunately, however, a number of services and products have been created to help eco-friendly contractors.

The National Association of Home Builders plans to roll out the first and only national ratings standard for remodeled homes this year. Contact them for more information on how green products will affect ratings. (In the UK we wait for the Green Deal installers’ Code of Practice and a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for the retrofitting of energy efficiency measures in domestic and non-domestic buildings)

  • Taking advantage of tax credits and other applicable programs, contractors can offset some of the additional costs they might incur by using eco-efficient approaches to building.
  • Enroll in green building event, training seminars and/or certification programs. (For example, the U.S. Green Building Council backs the LEEDHomes Raters program Home Raters are qualified to assess the degree to which a home has been constructed according to accepted standards of environmental sustainability)
  • Educate yourselves. Sign up for REGREEN, a program that distributes information about how to build green on a smaller scale. The U.S. Green Building Council partnered with The American Society of Interior Designers Foundation to create REGREEN, the first countrywide green residential remodeling manual for existing homes
  • If you think your customers don’t know or care about green building initiatives, think again. A February 2011 poll of Angie’s List members found that 50% of respondents plan to include green building elements in their home this year, but first they want to learn more. Educate yourself so that you will be able to educate your customer and market your services better.
  • According to some estimates, existing homes account for 94% of buildings in the U.S. The average age of these homes is 30 years, which means they often have drafty doors and windows as well as poorly insulated walls, attics and crawl spaces. Additionally, these properties are responsible for 21% of the nation’s carbon emissions. Herein lies a huge profit opportunity for contractors who educate themselves on green remodeling and market themselves to the right crowd.
  • Look at purchasing a green performance bond for your projects in addition to required contractor license bonds . Clients prefer working with professional contractors who are licensed and bonded because they appreciate the extra layer of financial protection
  • For smaller projects, check out the Habitat for Humanity ReStore as a resource. ReStore resale outlets sell reusable and surplus building materials to the public at low costs. Merchandise at the restore is especially good for home remodeling projects
  • Draw up window plans that take full advantage of passive solar energy and help maintain proper indoor temperature. Contractors should always verify that all windows are strategically placed in beneficial locations. This is a great example of implementing inexpensive, eco-conscious design that has a real impact on sustainability.
  • The cost of renewable products like solar platforms decreases as the technology gains traction with the buying public. Installing new products in today’s construction projects will play a large role in increasing eco-friendly building and, in turn, drive down costs.
  • Consider that building a completely new structure using eco-friendly processes might be easier and cheaper than retro-fitting an existing structure that has inherent design flaws.

Contractors who take advantage of green building will not only save money over the long haul, but also promote health benefits from building structures without toxic, energy-wasting materials.

What do you do – do you have any tips for improving green build?

 Kirsten Bradley is working to educate professionals and their lawyers about construction industry regulations through SuretyBonds with a special interest in helping contractors access more green building resources. Follow Kirsten on twitter @suretybond

defining zero carbon – more clarifications (for homes at least)

On Wednesday I sat in on a Zero Carbon Hub consultation event relating to the defining-zero-carbon-homes-presentation2zero carbon definition  for buildings. I did manage to send some tweets via twitter during the session, and here, I have pulled these together to give a view on the consultation paper.

The event was not quite what I was expecting, as confusingly although the document out or consultation is entitled Definition of Zero Carbon Homes and Non Domestic Buildings, it doesn’t, Neil Jefferson head of the Hub informed us, cover Non Domestics – a separate consultation is expected soon.

Key to the proposal and principles are three elements expressed in the pyramid:


There is so much thinking, science , technology and even politics behind this hierarchy that isn’t (imho) expressed in the paper, but was covered in the slides from the session, handed out on USB drive and from here : defining-zero-carbon-homes-presentation2

Some interesting thoughts:

As to the rate of homes being built to CSH 6 (zero carbon) the following profile helps to explain the anticipated progress to 100% post 2016:


The aspirational target is a UK version of the German PassivHaus concept.  (as Denise Chevin mentions in Building Its principles are simple – the best way to go low carbon is to build a well-insulated, airtight envelope that is nice to live in. It also comes with a copper-bottomed pedigree, with thousands of completed buildings over its 17-year history.)

Nearly 50% present at event were developers and contractor and saw the on site achieving of standards as most demanding aspect of zero carbon. (Cost and quality) 

Will allowable solutions be just another complex carbon off-setting scheme? Could offsite allowances mean business as usual for designers / developers / builders ?  although 2/3 of those present thought that offsite renewables should n0t be included within carbon compliance.

New build house projects to (could?) decarbonise existing housing stock – this is an exciting new idea but received low interest in terms of potential (votes) from those present 

And as to who should monitor and police zero carbon?  Given three options ( Local Planning Authority/ Building Control Bodies/New form of accredited body) those present opted for c, New form of accredited body.

defining zero carbon

As a post on this blog noted at the end of last year, the definition of zero carbon buildings is currently under consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

I am in full agreement with Casey over at Carbon Limited who blogs for a call to arms on this one, this consultation is so important that all in the built environment should engage with.

The outcome definition will shape and determine design, construction, building services  and facilities management into the future, in a similar (but more profound way) that the HASAW and CDM and other milestone legislations have done.

(from zero carbon consultation:summary)

At the core of the document is the government’s preferred framework for reaching zero carbon. In order of priority:

  1. A minimum standard of energy efficiency will be required.
  2. A minimum carbon reduction should be achieved through a combination of energy efficiency, onsite low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies, and directly connected heat. This is referred to as achieving carbon compliance.
  3. Any remaining emissions should be dealt with using allowable solutions, including offsite energy.

The zero carbon definition will have profound implications for…

… the built environment client in the choice and cost implications

design –  a change the design parameters,

construction, for example with airtight construction calling for a build quality and quality control we are not too good at. (Research at Leeds Met is showing that the cost of retro fixing air leaks in new buildings is  a hugely costly exercise *)

building services – on energy sourcing and management.

And of course on the way buildings are used, run and managed.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can download it here.  or as Casey puts it – get involved or forever bitch about it in the pubs.

(* more on this later)

no limits … route to zero

The presentation for my recent Route2Zero event for No Limits (Constructing the Future @ Elevate East Lancs) is available here: No Limits Route2Zero.  The pdf is more print friendly than the actual slides used, with the images removed to reduce the size of the file.  Also the reference for the Transition Town movement discussed on the evening is included.

Organisations looking to sign up to the No Limits Route 2 Zero programme should contact Donna at No Limits directly.

If anyone is looking for route2zero images please contact me directly.

is ISO 14001 working?

I picked up a copy of the Patagonia outdoor apparel catalogue over the weekend.  In addition to the photos and products, these catalogue are always a good read to see how a leading organisation is approaching and communicating their environmental and ecological ethos.  A link to their website allows you to track the impact of specific Patagonia products from design through delivery, through interactive mini-site Footprint Chronicles™

What caught my eye was a comment on ISO14001, and on how Patagonia, to ensure that our (leather in footwear) leaves the smallest possible footprint, we only use (tanneries) with an ISO14001 registration. This strict set of environmental standards measures how efficiently a company uses natural resources, how its process impact on the environment and how closely it adheres to local and international environmental regulations.

Wow, if only this were the case in the built environment. Although I often make the link between effective ISO14001 application and reducing the carbon and ecological footprint but its not often I have seen others make the link.  Of course this needs much much more than just achieving and maintaining with a tick box mentality.  The concept of ISO 14001 remains good, but from experience of taking organisations through the assessment process it is far too easy to attain with tokenism and without really addressing real change on environmental and ecological issues.

As we are now head long into reducing the impact of the built environment may be its time to tighten up on ISO14001 accreditation and requirements.  What difference would a project with the entire supply chain working to ISO 14001 achieve?   I am aware that customers and clients believe this is what they get when in procurement they insist on ISO 14001 of the main or prime contractor.  In reality it may be just the main contractor who holds the standard, who conducts the impact assessment, who then takes the do-as-little-as-possible-in-the-hope-we-are-not-audited approach.

Or, as the example given for greenwash Sin of Fibbing -being certified ISO 14001 compliant (“ok, its our holding company actually, not our business unit”)

We have seen a number of fast track and 14001 made easy programmes for the sector recently – I question if this no more than a bandaid, get-the-badge to get through tenders approach, or a real contribution to improving environmental performance.  Often these are process based, web based, electronic approaches with pre-written templates that ignore the hearts and mind, people element so crucial to implementing the systemic change in ethos required.

Within the built environment we need, the strict set of environmental standards measures how efficiently a company uses natural resources, how its process impact on the environment and how closely it adheres to local and international environmental regulations. That covers ALL aspects of the sector and is continually improved.

Related isite links:

Responsible Sourcing to BS6000

isite’s Guide to Effective ISO 14001

all homes to be code level 6

All UK homes could meet a Code Level 6 by 2050  in line with the planned Code for Sustainable Refurbishment to reduce carbon emissions from existing homes.  Source

Now this will surely start another, necessary, debate on how this is possible, and how it will impact on the huge sector of our industry that refurbs and maintains our housing stock.

Do we have the skills? ( I sense another Skills Gap analysis report will be on its way soon, stating the obvious)  It starts to make the 2010 Great ReSkilling programme predicted by Rob Hopkins in the Transition Handbook sound more feasible.

Carbon management, route to zero and waste management event

Over 70 people from the regional construction, fm and energy sector attended last nights Lancashire Best Practice Club event at the Solarus Center in Blackpool.  The event , in two parts, covered sustainability, targets for the built environment  and carbon issues from Martin Brown and in the second half site waste management plans from Colin Woods

Presentation and links will be available on the events page for downloading.

For more information, or for those present, to discuss any of the issues raised in the evening email Martin or Colin – or both!

JCT legally binding sustainability contracts?

To reinforce that we cannot address sustainability, carbon reduction and waste management from a hearts and minds, save the planet for future generations, common sense point of view and approach, JCT have started a consultation process as to which sustainability items should be made contractual within JCT forms of contract, as in legally binding commitments.

Details are on the JCT site

One of the consultation questions allows you to choose from a list of themes you would like seen as a contractual issue (see below), which gives a pretty good indication of what JCT is thinking.

Would the sustainability contract be with client and contractor, or all, as per the JCT Constructing Excellence Collaborative Contract (one would hope!).  Or following a growing school of thought that that the earth should have ‘legal status’, hence with the earth itself?

Which would you like to see as a contractual clause:

Carbon emissions associated with construction process
Carbon emissions associated with the end use of the ‘project’
Commercial vehicle movements
Consumption of energy during construction process
Consumption of energy associated with the end use of the ‘project’
Consumption of water during construction process
Consumption of water associated with the end use of the ‘project’
Economic sustainability in construction supply chain
Maintenance or optimisation of biodiversity
Origin of construction materials
Waste management in construction process
Waste management associated with the end use of the ‘project’

Code level 6 too easy ? – go to level 7 or beyond

Following on from earlier posts (whats wrong) on this site where I raised the question that Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable homes was seemingly too low a standard – as Barratts and Eddie Shah, and others, already claim they can achieve it , apparently without doing to much different, it is encouraging to see Bill Dunster pushing the goal posts further.

‘Anybody can build to Level Six,’ says Bill

Bill Dunster claims his RuralZED house, which will be shown at the Ecobuild exhibition (26-28 February at Earls Court), meets the unprecedented (and non-existent – he invented the term) Level Seven of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with a wind turbine producing energy to make up for the embodied energy in the materials and construction of the structure. more info at AJ

Level 6 and now Level 7 must remain stretch targets – targets to stretch our rethinking, our innovations and our urgency in addressing sustainability issues. To say we can achieve them today is plain greenwash. (Greenwash sin number 1, 2 3, or 6? )

And, on a similar issue will we see a higher level BREEAM assessment to continue to stretch our sector? After all if BREEAM Excellent doesn’t achieve the targets we need to reach nationally or globally then indeed we do need higher, tougher standards.

As Dr Jo Williams, in the latest edition of Journal of Environmental Planning and Management shows, the current government strategy is unlikely to drive the required increase in technological, infrastructural, service and knowledge capacity needed to deliver zero-carbon homes. If it is going to meet its carbon targets the government should make the current “code 6-star rating” (ie zero-carbon standard) mandatory for all new housing, and invest in the technology, infrastructure and knowledge needed to support its delivery… Without which we will head to an environmental disaster. (Guardian report – where are the green houses)

Or – the will (hearts and minds) and motivation to do so without legislation and standards – ie just getting on and doing it as in the spirit of Contraction and Convergence for example – but thats another post.