Weekly Email News – the future of the building industry

January 2012

Issue 43  20/01/12   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green Deal concerns

As the government’s Green Deal consultation period came to a close this week, a number of organisations announced that they were far from convinced that the scheme would be a success in its current format.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) argued that the Green Deal would fall at the first hurdle unless the government provides a range of additional incentives to encourage householders to take it up.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB said: “Householders will need to be convinced of the value of retrofitting their home particularly when the price is having a new charge attached to their electricity bill. The quickest and easiest way to create consumer demand would be to reduce VAT on Green Deal improvements or reduce Stamp Duty.”

The CBI also recognised that the government must make the Green Deal as user-friendly as possible, and welcomed the allocation of £200m to incentivise early adoption of the scheme. Read the Rest Here

The cost of renewable energy?

Unnecessary and hugely expensive renewable energy policies will cost the average household in Britain a total of £400 a year by 2020 – the equivalent to 2.5p on VAT – according to a new report by think tank, Policy Exchange.

The £400 is not the total cost of climate policy but the additional cost imposed because the Government subsidises expensive renewables such as offshore wind rather than cheaper ways of reducing carbon emissions.

The report – The full cost to households of renewable energy policies – accuses the Government of not clearly presenting the full impacts and costs of climate and renewable energy policies on households, and outlines how the UK could meet its carbon targets while saving households hundreds of pounds.

In the recent Annual Energy Policy Statement, Chris Huhne made much of a statistic that current climate and renewable energy policies would reduce households’ average energy bills by 7% by 2020.
Read the Rest Here

January 2012

Issue 42  13/01/12   click here to view

Lead Stories

Radical heating changes needed

There is no possibility that the UK can meet its 2050 target for CO2 emissions without a fundamental change to the way our homes are heated, according to a report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Even with the most modern gas boilers and state-of-the art insulation, we cannot continue to heat so many homes by natural gas and still achieve an 80% cut in emissions as laid down in the Climate Change Act 2008.

The Academy's report – ‘Heat: degrees of comfort’ – looks at the challenges of matching our demand for domestic heating with the binding requirement to reduce our overall carbon emissions. The report looks at new technologies including heat pumps, considers options such as district heating and combined heat and power schemes and looks at incentives and drivers for the creation of new markets. Read the Rest Here

Don’t jeopardise FITs’ future
Although the FITs Judicial Review was widely reported as a victory for the UK solar industry, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and its members are concerned about the implications of the on-going legal battle, both for solar and the other technologies covered by the Feed-in Tariff.

While the REA condemned DECC’s poor handling of the FIT Review, it has urged all parties involved to recognise that the priority has to be securing the future of the industry for the remainder of this Parliament – and for this to happen, the tariff has to come down and more budget must be secured.

The organisation said that most companies responding to REA’s request for feedback supported this view. The REA had already called for a 25% reduction in tariffs in response to a DECC consultation in May last year.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the REA said: “DECC deserved to be reprimanded for its handling of the FIT Review. The fall in PV costs has taken us all by surprise, but had DECC lowered tariffs sooner and in a controlled manner as we had suggested, there would have been less uncertainty and chaos. Read the Rest Here

January 2012

Issue 41  06/01/12   click here to view

Lead Stories

FIT ruling

The High Court ruled in favour of Friends of the Earth and two solar companies on 21 December, finding that government's consultation on the solar FiT breached rules governing consultation exercises. This decision came as the cross-party Select Committee published its report on the consultation, slamming government for its "unfair" handling of the proposed changes.

Government will be appealing the High Court decision in January and until that process is complete the tariff levels will be uncertain.

If the judgement stands, the rates for solar PV could potentially go back to the pre-12 December levels, until government has completed a full parliamentary process (finished the consultation, reviewed the responses and laid the changes before parliament). It is estimated that the full process would take until around the start of April 2012 – meaning that we could see the 43.3p rate (for sub-4kW projects) available for new installations up to the start of April 2012.

Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said:"There is no question that solar subsidies needed to be urgently reduced, but the Government has handled this clumsily. Read the Rest Here

Counting the energy cost of Christmas

The cost of running a typical Christmas stocking full of Yuletide gifts could be as much as £150 a year – about six times the energy savings made by bringing your loft insulation up to recommended standards, researchers at University of Salford’s Energy House have discovered.

Those presents being stored up in the loft, where Mum and Dad have just laid an extra six inches of insulation, can easily cancel out the saving on power bills unless families change their energy habits.

Researchers looked at some of the most popular gifts and worked out how much they would cost to run if, like many of us, the family left gadgets on standby or permanently charging up.

The gift list (for a lucky family) was:
· Laptop and printer for busy working Mum
· Power drill for DIY Dad
· bedroom TV for the X-Factor fan daughter
· Blu-Ray player for movie-mad son
· Playstation for games convert Granddad, and
· Digital radio for Archers-addict Gran
Read the Rest Here

December 2011

Issue 40  16/12/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Solar letter and petition

A letter urging the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to secure the solar industry was handed in to No. 10 by renewables trade associations, MPs and Friends of the Earth yesterday (December 15).

The letter was signed by more than 200 prominent individuals, organisations and companies. Friends of the Earth will be handing in a petition alongside REA (Renewable Energy Association), STA (Solar Trade Association) and Solarcentury signed by over 17,000 people urging the Government to protect solar and the UK FIT scheme.

The solar industry saw tariff rates cut 50%+ at six weeks’ notice. However, the greater threat to the industry by far is the remaining budget. In order to keep within the remaining budget DECC have put forward proposals which, on their own estimate, could reduce the UK solar market by 90%. If this happens the UK solar industry will return to the size it was before FITs began, losing the 22,000 jobs created, according to the signatories.

The letter urged the PM and DPM to step in to secure the industry. Because the UK solar industry has been very successful at driving prices down, the costs of securing the industry are much lower than is generally appreciated. Domestic solar power now receives the same levels of support as river hydro and less than mini-wind. Non-domestic solar receives less support than anaerobic digestion.

Despite the surge in solar installed this year, price reductions mean the solar industry can deliver a green energy revolution for less than previously envisaged when the scheme began.

‘Tough’ – survey

Nearly nine out of 10 UK construction firms expect public spending cuts to act as a drag on operating conditions, the CBI said recently.

Responding to the first CBI/Speedy Services national construction survey, close to two-thirds of firms described the UK’s planning system as an obstacle to business, while four out of 10 have seen a deterioration in the availability of finance over the past year.

Close to nine out of ten (86%) firms report that sustainability is an important consideration for their clients. More than two-thirds (69%) measure their sustainability in terms of water, waste, carbon contribution and energy use. Over half of respondents (53%) consider the carbon footprint of their suppliers as part of their selection process. Read the Rest Here

Issue 39  09/12/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Funding for green schemes launched

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has announced funding of £10 million for local community energy projects, and a £20 million boost to the existing public sector energy efficiency loan scheme.

Chris Huhne said: “This is great news for the public sector. Not only do we need to encourage energy efficiency in our schools, hospitals and universities, we also need to get green energy generation and energy efficiency into our communities. That’s why we are also making £10million available for communities to help spur an energy revolution at a local level.”

The new £10 million Local Energy Assessment Fund, managed by a number of community networks and administered by the Energy Saving Trust, will be run as a competition, with the chance for around 200 community organisations to get to grips with energy efficiency and renewable energy generation. Organisations including parish councils, voluntary associations, development trusts and faith groups are all eligible to apply. Read the Rest Here

Microgeneration risk

A boom in households and communities generating their own energy is at risk of being undermined by government cuts, according to a new report on microgeneration by renewable energy experts Regen.

The report ‘The Benefits of Microgeneration and the Feed-in Tariff’ reviews the evidence of the first 20 months of the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme to support small scale renewable energy. It concludes that the scheme has shown a huge appetite to move from relying on centralised energy production to producing energy locally for our own use. There are over 900 active community energy groups and more than 2,000 jobs have been created in solar energy in the south west alone.

Merlin Hyman, Regen chief executive, said: “This report shows policy to encourage microgeneration has exceeded all expectations in terms of giving households, communities and business the opportunity to generate their own energy, bring down costs and create skilled local jobs. Read the Rest Here

Issue 38  02/12/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Carbon Plan published

The task of rebalancing the UK economy away from carbon is well-progressed and is set to result in greater energy security and the development of new innovative technologies, the Government's Carbon Plan showed this week.

Emissions in the UK must by law be cut by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. The Carbon Plan sets out progress to date and assesses cost-effective next steps. It shows:

• that UK emissions have already been cut by more than 25% on 1990 levels
• that with the policies already in place the economy will significantly exceed the 34% target set for the first 15 years under the Climate Change Act, and would have done so even if the recession had not occurred
• that meeting the fourth carbon budget of a 50% cut in emissions by the mid-2020s will not have any additional cost implications during this Parliament, but beyond that will require a decade of mass deployment of key technologies Read the Rest Here

Lessons learned

The UK Green Building Council's
Sustainability Lessons Learned Programme was launched this week.

The programme is designed to showcase the sustainability story that runs throughout the London 2012 construction project. The event brings together leading figures from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), Building Research Establishment (BRE) and Atkins to discuss key points on the journey to create a sustainable London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – from bid to handover.

The aim to make London 2012 the most sustainable Games yet has shaped the systems, processes, tools and culture of the construction project. Some of the key achievements of the project so far are as follows: Read the Rest Here

November 2011

Issue 37  25/11/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green Deal consultation launched

£14 billion worth of private sector investment in home energy improvements over the next decade will help insulate households from rising global energy prices and create thousands of jobs in the British insulation and construction sector, Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said this week.

A consultation on the Green Deal, which will provide home energy saving upgrades to householders at no upfront cost, was published as part of the Energy and Climate Change Secretary’s Annual Energy Statement to Parliament.

“The Green Deal is about putting energy consumers back in control of their bills and banishing Britain’s draughty homes to the history books,” Chris Huhne said. “By stimulating billions of pounds of private sector investment, the Green Deal will revolutionise the way that we keep our homes warm, making them cosier, more efficient – and all at no upfront cost. Read the Rest Here

Construction growth plan unveiled

A rebalancing of public expenditure in favour of capital investment, a targeted cut in VAT on works to make homes greener, and new models for financing major infrastructure are needed to unlock growth in the UK’s strategically crucial construction industry.

These are some of the key recommendations of a new report, published on November 24 by an alliance of seven leading industry bodies from across the UK. The alliance has a combined membership of more than 40,000 companies and thousands of individual built environment professionals.

The report highlights the critical importance of the construction industry to the UK economy, representing 7% of total economic output, and suggests it will have a pivotal role to play in rebuilding growth. In addition to a lack of public funding and poor availability of private finance, the report identifies planning delays, burdensome bureaucracy and weak customer confidence as other major barriers to growth in the industry. It urges the UK Government to press ahead with controversial reforms to England’s planning system and to accelerate planning reforms elsewhere in the UK. Read the Rest Here

Issue 36  18/11/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Clearer ‘green’ vision needed

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have written to the Prime Minister to express concerns about the 'unsatisfactory' wording of the Government’s new national planning policy framework (NPPF) – and to call for a clearer definition of sustainable development.

In its current form, the planning framework "presents different messages to different audiences about what the presumption in favour of sustainable development actually means in practice”.

The Government’s vision must be articulated more clearly, the MPs point out, "because it will be used as a material consideration in planning decisions and might have to be tested in the courts”.

Chair of the committee, Joan Walley MP, said: "As it currently stands the new planning policy framework appears contradictory and confusing. Read the Rest Here

Encraft joins legal challenge

Independent consulting engineering firm and social housing specialists Encraft has joined one of the three legal challenges to the Government’s recent decision to bring forward the date for reductions in solar PV Feed In Tariff.

Matthew Rhodes, MD of Encraft, confirmed that he is backing Solar Century’s initiative to challenge the date change. He said: “We don’t dispute the reduction in tariffs itself, but the date of this reduction should be 31 March 2012 as previously announced. Legal action is necessary to re-establish that date and to hold DECC to account.

“Encraft is not a solar company but a well-established microgeneration and energy efficiency consultancy that has created 30 jobs in the past eight years and sells services globally. Our clients are pursuing major strategic projects to create lower carbon communities. Read the Rest Here

Issue 35  11/11/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

CBI attacks government over FITs cut

The CBI's Director-General has labelled the Government's unexpected decision last week to cut solar feed-in tariffs (FITs) – even before the consultation period has ended – as "the latest in a string of Government own goals".

Addressing the CBI East Midlands Annual Dinner John Cridland, CBI Director-General will say that the low-carbon sector – which has grown across the world throughout the recession – risks being derailed in the UK by unexpected changes, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

“Last week the Government announced a dramatic cut in the solar feed-in tariff,” he said. “A reduction was already on the cards from April 1, but this will now come in by mid-December – before the consultation has even ended.

"This is the latest in a string of government own goals, following the Carbon Reduction Commitment becoming a pure revenue-raiser and the North Sea oil and gas tax.

"As you all know, moving the goal posts doesn't just destroy projects and jobs, it creates a mood of uncertainty that puts off investors and they wonder what's coming next.

"Some companies have invested heavily in solar photovoltaic systems, and in the supply chains needed to install them. That commitment has been undermined by the feed-in tariff decision – and so industry trust and confidence in the government has evaporated. This bodes poorly for investment in future initiatives.”

Councils urge FITs cuts delay

Councils will have to pull the plug on thousands of solar panel installations and face being left hundreds of millions of pounds out of pocket because of rushed Government cuts, local authority leaders have warned.

On the day that the last of the 'big six' energy suppliers hikes up energy bills, local authorities have warned that an earlier than expected 50% cut to the rate of Feed-in Tariffs could condemn vulnerable families to fuel poverty.

Many councils have been working to get solar panels installed before the end of the financial year to take advantage of Feed-in Tariff subsidies.

But under plans announced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, councils will now have only six weeks to get the panels up and running and signed off by Ofgem. Those who fail to meet the deadline would have the subsidy they receive over the next 25 years halved. Subsidies for social housing would be cut by 60%. Read the Rest Here

Issue 34  04/11/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

‘Boom and bust must be avoided’

Urgent action is needed to put the solar industry on a steadier, clearer and sustainable growth path, avoid boom and bust and protect the wider Feed-in Tariff scheme (FITs), Greg Barker said today as he announced the reduced tariffs and new qualification criteria.

Opponents to the scheme argue that the move could stop the growth of the burgeoning solar market in its tracks.

The proposals, subject to consultation, would introduce a new tariff for schemes up to 4kW in size of 21p/kWh – down from the current 43.3p/kWh. Reduced rates are also proposed for schemes between 4kW and 250kW.

Greg Barker said: “My priority is to put the solar industry on a firm footing so that it can remain a successful and prosperous part of the green economy, and so that it doesn’t fall victim to boom and bust.

“Although I fully realise that adjusting to the new lower tariffs will be a big challenge for many firms, it won’t come as a surprise to many in the solar industry who’ve themselves acknowledged the big fall in costs and the big increase in their rate of return over the past year.” Read the Rest Here

School carbon emissions on the rise

Typical CO2 emissions from schools in England are rising, despite reductions to their heating demands, because of an increase in electricity consumption, according to new research.

The study also suggests that the new academies, schools funded directly by the state and heavily supported by the present Government, have significantly higher energy consumption profiles than normal secondary schools.

Researchers drew primarily on a database of Display Energy Certificates (DECs), which are required under UK legislation, (stemming from EU directives on building energy). These have applied to all public buildings over 1,000m since 2008, and show the buildings annual energy performance.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and Shinawatra University, Thailand, were able to obtain records for around 25,000 DECs produced in 2008-9, following a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Communities and Local Government. Previously, only partial datasets had been made widely available, which lacked crucial information such as the type of building to which the DEC applied. This made large scale analysis almost impossible. Read the Rest Here

October 2011

Issue 33  28/10/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Sustainability reporting

This week saw the UK launch of the Global Reporting Initiative Construction Real Estate Sector Supplement (GRI Cress).

GRI Cress will provide built environment professionals with a framework for reporting across a range of sustainability issues, including carbon emissions, water use and sub-contracted labour issues connected to buildings. This will allow organisations to measure their performance more comprehensively than ever in a way which is consistent and comparable, and which supports a number of other industry initiatives.

GRI Cress is built on the existing work of the Global Reporting Initiative, which provides an international and standardised sustainability reporting framework covering economic, environmental, and social performance indicators and principles. It is used by organisations to measure and benchmark year-on-year performance and compare performance on a global level.

In 2009, following calls from the property and construction sectors for more tailored guidance, an industry-led global multi-stakeholder working group was established to develop a sector-specific version of the reporting framework – GRI Cress is the culmination of this cross-sector collaboration.

A document summarising GRI Cress can be found here

Self-build suppor

Housing minister Grant Shapps has urged lenders to give more support for self-build homes and to consider offering fixed rate mortgages of up to 25-years.

Mr Shapps told the Building Societies Association in London that “a self-build revolution” was needed to tackle the current housing shortage. And in a drive to provide borrowers with greater stability in turbulent times, he said lenders should follow the lead of Germany and Scandinavia by offering fixed-rate mortgages lasting as long as 25 years.

In his speech, Mr Shapps said Britain was at the bottom of the European league for building new homes, despite research suggesting many people would like to build their own. One of the problems was the reluctance of lenders to invest in such projects, he added.
Read the Rest Here

Issue 32  21/10/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Energy Act becomes law

The Energy Act has become law setting in stone the legal framework for the Green Deal, which will be launched in the autumn next year.

The aim of the Green Deal will be to revolutionise the energy efficiency of the nation’s homes and businesses. It should help people insulate against rising energy prices, creating homes which are warmer and cheaper to run.

DECC’s new “Housing Energy Fact File’ highlights that more than half of homes in Great Britain don’t have sufficient insulation.

It shows around 50% more energy is used to heat and power homes than is used to power UK industry. It is vital, therefore, that action is taken to address home energy efficiency. Read the Rest Here

Sustainability shared

Sustainability lessons learned from the Olympic Park construction site are to be shared with the wider built environment industry through a partnership between the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

In line with the aim to make London 2012 a sustainable Games, pioneering techniques have been used in the design and construction of the Olympic Park and its venues. UK-GBC has been chosen to disseminate the sustainability lessons learned as part of the ODA’s Learning Legacy Programme.

UK-GBC’s year-long events programme will focus on specific venues such as the Velodrome, the Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, and will cover sustainability themes including materials, energy and carbon, biodiversity, green building standards and the regeneration of East London.

The first event in the series will be on 29 November 2011.

John Armitt, ODA Chairman, said: “The scale and speed of the coordinated UK effort to build the venues and infrastructure is unprecedented and the knowledge and lessons gained during construction will both benefit the industry and act as a catalyst for inward investment”.

Paul King, CEO of UK-GBC commented: “The built environment will play a crucial role both in enabling the UK to reduce its carbon emissions and supporting our transition to a green economy. It is therefore imperative that we take the opportunity to learn from exemplar sustainability projects – like London 2012 – to push the sector to improve design, processes and sourcing of materials to ensure more sustainable outcomes.”

Issue 31  14/10/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green Deal consultation

Construction firms are being urged to give their views in a consultation on the Green Deal to ensure they can get to grips with and shape the qualifications and standards that will be required of installers.

The call came from CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council, and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) after the consultation called PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2030, proposed for the first time the specific skills, qualifications and other requirements that construction firms and installers will need to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge when the Green Deal is rolled out in October 2012.

For the first time, proposals on the level of qualifications that installers will need have been provided – for all disciplines associated with retrofitting energy-saving technology including: heating, wall, pipe, roof and loft insulation, draft proofing, double glazing, micro-generation and photovoltaics. Read the Rest Here

Green buildings = 'green premium'

A recent report published by the Australian Property Institute and Property Funds Association has found that Green Star-rated buildings are delivering a 12% 'green premium' in value and a 5% premium in rent.

The Building Better Returns report, authored by Graeme Newell and John MacFarlane of the University of Western Sydney, and Dr Nils Kok of Maastricht University, analysed a portfolio representing 51% of the total office market floor area in Sydney and Canberra, which included 206 NABERS-rated (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) office buildings and 23 Green Star-rated buildings.

The report found a 'green premium' was evident for both Green Star-rated and NABERS Energy offices, with 5-star NABERS Energy buildings attracting a 9% premium in value.

The report also found that Green Star and NABERS Energy buildings delivered other benefits, such as reduced vacancies and outgoings.

The report will have a great influence on industry decisions to build green. George Kostas, managing director of Construction and Development at Brookfield Multiplex (which supported the report through platinum sponsorship) has said: "The API report provides critical insights for us to understand how our clients value green buildings and reinforces our strategic sustainability approach."

Details of the report can be found here

Issue 30  07/10/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green Deal finance consortium formed

An industry-led consortium has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop the business plan for a not-for-profit organisation, The Green Deal Finance Company (TGDFC), to finance the best value Green Deal option for consumers. The MOU signatories include British Gas, Carillion, Clifford Chance, E.ON, EDF Energy, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Insta Group, Kingfisher, Linklaters, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets, Mark Group, npower, PwC, RBC Capital Markets and SSE.

The consortium is already working closely with DECC, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and local authorities, with a view to maximising its assistance to the Green Deal market.

Paul Davies, PwC lead partner on The Green Deal Finance Company, said: “The success of The Green Deal Finance Company will be a fundamental building block in the overall success of the Green Deal programme. By minimising the cost of finance to future accredited Green Deal providers, it will create a highly competitive market that will compete on cost, reliability, lifespan and technology. It will maximise the measures that can be included within the Green Deal and for many potential providers will solve the question of where their finance will come from.” Read the Rest Here

Gadgets threaten green targets

Britons’ love of electrical appliances and gadgets could see the UK miss its carbon emission reduction targets for domestic appliance electricity use by as much as seven million tonnes.

That is the finding of a new report by the Energy Saving Trust, the independent body set up to help householders reduce their energy bills and combat climate change. It reveals that the UK will miss its 2020 target of a 34% reduction in domestic appliance electricity carbon emissions from 1990 levels by up to seven million tonnes unless we ramp up our efforts now.

The Energy Saving Trust runs an Energy Saving Recommended scheme, a UK-wide labelling programme which tests appliances on strict criteria and rewards the most energy-efficient models.The report reveals that if every household in the UK replaced just their old fridge-freezer, washing machine and dishwasher with the most efficient Energy Saving Trust Recommended models, they could collectively save £585m on their fuel bills, and prevent two million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Read the Rest Here

September 2011

Issue 29  30/09/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

UK ahead in carbon emissions

New global research from RICS has revealed the UK is in the top three countries in the world in working towards zero carbon emissions in the built environment. However, there are still a number of areas to be improved on.

The RICS Global Zero Carbon Capacity Index (or ZC2 Index) has for the past three years assessed 34 individual countries on a number of factors, looking at how they are progressing towards a zero carbon built environment. Due to its carbon reduction policies, the UK ranked third in the index, just behind Norway and Brazil . Norway was top for the third year running, while Brazil moved up six places due to low energy use and high contribution of renewable energy.

The ZC2 Index assesses advances towards a decarbonised environment by using three indicators; consumption of energy in the residential, tertiary and transport sectors; the contribution of renewable energy to total primary energy supply (TPES); and the policy frameworks countries have put in place to promote carbon reductions in the built environment.
Read the Rest Here

Combating greenwash

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has launched its new 'Green Building Guidance' Task Group.

Responding to the proliferation of information, tools, guidance, products and services around 'green buildings', the new Task Group will provide a comprehensive framework for the construction and property sector that will sign-post businesses to the most appropriate information and advice they need to embed sustainability in their organisations.

The Task Group will explore issues such as how products and services can meaningfully be compared, what constitutes best practice in sustainability and what evidence currently exists that provides a business case for organisations to become more sustainable. Read the Rest Here

Issue 28  23/09/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green buildings ‘crucial’

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, stressed the importance of sustainability in the built environment this week.

Speaking at an event at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Brussels to celebrate World Green Building Week, Potočnik said: “Greening our building stock provides unparalleled opportunities, not only to cost effectively reduce carbon emissions, but also to reduce our use of extracted materials and water. That is why building and construction are an essential part of the Commission's Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe, adopted this week, and why I am delighted to be part of this year’s World Green Building Week celebrations.

“We will need the ideas and experience of the World Green Building Council Europe Network and its members to help us deliver our vision for resource efficiency. The growth of this network already demonstrates the importance that businesses across Europe attach to green building, and the growing recognition of the significant economic and job opportunities offered by green buildings.”

The WorldGBC Europe Network is chaired by Paul King, CEO of the UK Green Building Council who said: “The new WorldGBC Europe Network provides a unique vehicle for business to work together across the region to improve the sustainability of Europe’s built environment. There is a great opportunity for industry to work proactively with governments to unlock the considerable business benefits that can arise from radically rethinking our building practices.”


Issue 27  16/09/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Limited carbon reduction progress

The government has made either moderate or no progress on 22 of its 29 low-carbon commitments, says a detailed analysis of government action to achieve its own low-carbon commitments.

In May 2010, the government described climate change as ‘one of the gravest threats we face’ and committed to ‘urgent action both here and abroad.’

The new study suggests there are low levels of support for the government’s low carbon agenda in the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and concludes that major opportunities to generate green jobs and increase investor confidence in the low carbon sector are being missed.

Climate Check is published by think tank Green Alliance in conjunction with WWF, Christian Aid, Greenpeace and RSPB. It is the product of five months’ research and extensive discussions with over 40 officials and ministers across Whitehall.
Read the Rest Here

Still inadequate?

The Energy Bill finished its passage through the House of Commons this week, sparking concerns that it is not fit for purpose.

According to ‘Demand a Better Bill’ the Bill will not ensure that the Green Deal is taken up by consumers.

Demand a Better Bill is an action group supported by a number of organisations – including: FMB, WWF, Christian Aid and Marks & Spencer – designed to lobby ministers adapt the Energy Bill so that it has a good chance of achieving its aims.
Read the Rest Here

Issue 26  09/09/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Farmers follow the herd

An increasing number of farmers are embracing renewable energy schemes with a potential return on investment of more than 10%.

With income for farmers dropping as commodity prices have plummeted, the farming community has been forced to look for new ways to make money.

There has been a massive surge in interest among the UK’s farmers since the Government introduced new subsidies – Feed in Tariffs (FITs) – last year. Even changes brought in earlier this year have made little impact on farmers as most of the schemes under consideration are small and medium sized and well below the 50kW mark identified by the Government for proposed cuts in tariffs available.

With returns of 10% or more on investment, installing some form of renewable energy generation – most commonly solar panels or wind turbines – is seen as a secure investment by the farming community. Across the UK, more than a third of farmers are believed to be considering investing in renewable energy schemes
Read the Rest Here

Increase in recycling promoted

he management of waste generated by the construction industry has become a cause of major concern, according to Frost & Sullivan. It said the use of recycled materials and chemicals instead of virgin materials is seen as supporting sustainable construction, while yielding a range of environmental and economic benefits.

Currently, only 30% of the materials used in construction are currently recycled; there is potential to increase usage to nearly 90%.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan – Strategic Analysis of the European Recycled Materials and Chemicals Market in Construction Industry – finds that the market earned revenues of £744.1 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach £1,322.5 million in 2016.
Read the Rest Here

August 2011

Issue 25  12/08/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green boost vs red tape

Small businesses believe going green can boost their bottom line – but see tax and red tape as major barriers to becoming more environmentally friendly, according to Forum of Private Business research.

Just 10% of business owners responding to the Forum’s latest environmental panel survey have done nothing to reduce steep utilities costs while 41% have streamlined business processes, 28% have reduced energy usage and the same number have embraced more energy efficient equipment.

While 77% of respondents disagree that being green is impossible in the present economic climate, 52% argue that green taxes inhibit their ability to invest in reducing energy use, and 75% believe that environmental legislation focuses on the needs of larger businesses rather than small firms.
Read the Rest Here

Sustainability framework

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has announced a new Task Group that will help scope and develop a Sustainability Lifelong Learning Framework (SLLF) for the built environment sector.

The Sustainability Lifelong Learning Framework will provide vital leadership and co-ordination in the field of sustainability education and training, equipping businesses with the skills and knowledge that will be needed to create the sustainable buildings of the future.

The SLLF will draw on UK-GBC’s existing Sustainability Training and Education Programme (STEP) which was founded in 2009 with input from industry, academia and Government.
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Issue 24  05/08/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Good for business

New research reveals that the benefits of mandatory carbon reporting (MCR) for large businesses are much greater – and the costs lower – than the Government has suggested.

The new report – commissioned by Aldersgate Group, The Co-operative Group, Christian Aid and WWF – found that Defra’s impact assessment (IA) of mandatory greenhouse gas reporting overestimated the total costs of MCR for large companies by up to £4,600 million (over 420%), and underestimated the benefits by £980m (at least 230%).

Defra’s impact assessment, carried out as part of its recent consultation on MCR which closed on 5 July, estimated that the total costs (over ten years) of MCR for large companies could be as much as £6,025m and the total benefits a maximum of £1,355m.
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Solar initiative

Solar panels will be fitted on several public buildings across Torbay from early next year as part of a major environmental drive by Torbay Council.

The council has approved funding for the scheme, which is aimed at saving money, generating income from the energy created, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the development of a low carbon economy in Torbay.

Plans to install photovoltaic (PV) systems on the roofs of up to 45 public buildings, including schools and council offices, will benefit from the Government's clean energy funding scheme.

It will enable the council to benefit from government ‘feed-in tariffs’ which over 25 years which could attract a net income of up to £1.5 million. It is also available to householders and businesses.
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July 2011

Issue 23  29/07/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

National Planning Policy Framework launched

‘A new, simpler framework for the planning system that safeguards the environment while meeting the need for sustainable growth’ has been published for consultation today by Planning Minister Greg Clark.

National planning policy, which is the basis for every local plan and decision, has accumulated to over one thousand pages during the last decade. Its volume and complexity have made planning increasingly inaccessible to all but specialists.

Ministers are now inviting views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework – which streamlines national policy from over 1,000 pages to just 52 pages of policy – as part of a consultation to get the planning system right for current and future generations. The draft Framework draws on responses to an initial call for evidence earlier in the year. The Government intends to consult on simplifying other guidance on national policy as the next step.
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£22 billion construction investment

The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude has announced £22 billion of investment in Government construction projects over the next three years. The figures will be confirmed later in the autumn, along with further details on exactly where the money will be invested.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: “The Government’s construction strategy is reducing costs by up to 20% by reforming the way we procure construction projects across all sectors. However, we are still investing billions of pounds annually; with the same money we will procure more schools, hospitals, courts and prisons. Despite an incredibly difficult economic climate we are investing in and prioritising our construction industry.

“The Government and the construction industry have a shared obligation to cut waste and find new and better ways of doing business. This is especially important when we are talking about creating first class, modern, fully functioning public service delivery buildings like hospitals and schools.”

Government will help the construction industry better plan and prepare for projects by publishing a full pipeline of projects from the autumn.

Issue 22  22/07/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Money off green heaters

Householders across the country could get up to £1,250 of government funding to help towards the cost of installing renewable heating systems such as biomass boilers, air and ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels.

The Government’s new £15 million ‘Renewable Heat Premium Payment’ scheme – which will open for applications on 1st August this year until March next year – will support up to 25,000 installations. The scheme will be mainly focused at around 4 million households in Great Britain not heated by mains gas, who have to rely on higher carbon forms of heating which also tend to be more expensive than gas, such as heating oil and electric fires to keep warm.
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DECs a ‘benefit not a burden’

Cibse President, Andy Ford, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP, calling for the introduction of Display Energy Certificates (DECs) in the commercial sector.

DECs, which show the annual energy consumption of buildings, already apply to public buildings and there is growing evidence that they are helping to reduce public spending on energy bills. DECs, supporters say, provide essential data that is needed to implement effective energy reduction measures and cut public energy bills.

Despite widespread calls to introduce DECs for larger business premises, there have been concerns in government that they would be a burden, rather than a benefit.
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Issue 21  15/07/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Framework proposals launched

Zero Carbon Hub has launched proposals for a delivery framework for Allowable Solutions.

The proposed framework shows how developers will be able to reach the zero carbon standard set for 2016, and is a direct response to the Housing Minister’s call in February this year for a workable approach to Allowable Solutions, the third and final part of the Zero Carbon Homes Policy hierarchy.

The proposed framework, which has been developed with a range of collaborators representing housebuilding, planning, financial and government interests, proposes a system that will meet key working principles, including flexibility, simplicity and transparency in delivery.

The Government has yet to define what will constitute an Allowable Solution. However, on-site, near-site and off-site carbon-saving projects are expected to be available. The framework sets out the mechanism by which affordable, verifiable carbon savings projects might be funded and how they might be delivered in a way that encourages additional investment, limits the impact on those who are making Allowable Solutions payments, encourages innovation and fair competition and gives the option for local choice in the projects that are funded.
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Support for energy efficiency key

WWF has welcomed the Government’s ambition on renewables but expressed concern that the proposals set out in the Government’s Energy White Paper do not go far enough in their support for energy efficiency.

A focus on energy efficiency could substantially reduce the costs of moving towards a renewably powered and competitive UK economy, the organisation said.

WWF argued that suggestions that future energy prices will be driven by support for renewable energy are disingenuous, as increases to energy bills in the order of 90% since 2004 have and will continue to be mainly driven by rises in the wholesale piece of gas.

WWF highlighted research suggesting that embracing energy efficiency measures will more than offset the cost of supporting increased use of renewables.

A recent Committee on Climate Change report, based on economic analysis by the UK’s leading energy consultants, said that the cost of supporting renewable electricity to 2020 will amount to around a 4% increase on total household energy bills.
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Issue 20  08/07/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Whitehall exceeds carbon target

Carbon emissions from Government HQs and offices have been cut by nearly 14% in a year, and the Prime Minister told Whitehall it would have to go further by cutting emissions by 25% by 2015.

It is estimated that energy bills have been cut by £13 million as a result of bearing down on energy wastage in Government departments. The 10% target covered around 300,000 civil servants in 3,000 buildings. Between 14 May 2010 and 13 May 2011 over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 was saved.

The new 25% target for cutting carbon emissions will have an increased scope and include business related transport.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "A 13.8% cut in emissions in just one year is a great result and the civil service should be very proud of this achievement. But to be the greenest government ever we need to do more to stamp out energy waste in Whitehall, and make it easier for people and business to use energy more efficiently. That’s why I’m committing the Government to go further by reducing emissions by 25 per cent by 2015."
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Hospitality waste report

The UK hospitality sector could save up to £724 million a year by tackling food waste, according to a report published today by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).

The Composition of Waste Disposed of by the UK Hospitality Industry estimates that over 3.4 million tonnes of waste (typically food, glass, paper and card) is produced by hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick service restaurants (QSRs) each year. Of this, 1.6 million tonnes (48%) is recycled, reused or composted, while almost 1.5 million tonnes (43%) is thrown away, mainly to landfill.

Of the waste going to landfill, 600,000 tonnes was food waste, two-thirds of which (400,000 tonnes) could have been eaten.
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Issue 19  01/07/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Lack of progress on emissions reduction

The Committee on Climate Change’s
(CCC) progress report to Parliament on June 30 revealed that emissions increased by 3% in 2010, mainly as a result of the colder winter months. After adjusting for weather impacts, emissions were broadly flat. This, it said, is incompatible with the 3% annual average emissions reduction required to meet the first four carbon budgets.

A significant acceleration in the pace of emissions reductions is therefore required.

Emissions in 2010 were within the limits of the first carbon budget. However, this was due to the impact that the 2009 recession, which reduced emissions by 9%.

Chair of the committee on Climate Change, Lord Adair Turner said: “The step change that we have previously highlighted has not yet been achieved. Although we can meet the first carbon budget, this is mainly due to the recession.
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Efficiency scheme streamlined

Proposals to make the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme simpler, easier and more straightforward have been outlined.

The CRC scheme started in April last year to reduce carbon emissions in businesses through energy efficiency improvements.

Following recent discussions with businesses, industry, other scheme participants and regulators the proposals will result in a CRC scheme which:

• is simpler, reducing administrative burden on businesses
• provides greater certainty to participants about how they comply with the CRC
• allows greater flexibility for businesses in how they take part
• reduces the overlap between the CRC and other government climate policies
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June 2011

Issue 18  24/06/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Joint low carbon construction plan

Business Minister Mark Prisk this week outlined how the Government and the construction industry will work together to decarbonise the built environment by 2050, including establishing a new Government and industry board to ensure that this action plan is implemented.

The action plan includes the publication of an updated Carbon Plan – the Plan for Growth published in March provided greater certainty around the definition of ‘zero carbon’ for new homes. The Government also extended the Green Deal to include non-domestic properties and announced plans to use fiscal incentives for renewable heat systems.

From autumn 2011 the Government will publish quarterly a two-year forward programme of infrastructure projects to give more certainty to the sector to invest in low carbon. The Prime Minister has confirmed his commitment to the Better Public Building Awards which will have a new focus on low carbon to promote best practice. Via UK Trade and Investment the Government will also ensure most is made of overseas markets.
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Homes missing out on savings

New figures released this week reveal that nearly half of Britain’s homes do not have adequate basic insulation and are throwing away at least £100 in wasted energy payments every year.

The latest lagging statistics show that only 57% of Britain’s lofts have been properly insulated and only 58% of cavity walls have been filled. Insulating lofts and cavity walls cuts down on energy leakage and therefore reduces energy bills.

Energy companies have been told by the Coalition Government to increase the help they make available to people to insulate their homes and save money. A total of 3.5 million homes are set to benefit by December 2012 as a result of a tougher Carbon Emissions Reduction Target.
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Action plan for microgeneration

An action plan to help consumers, communities and businesses become renewable energy generators was published this week.

The Coalition Government’s new strategy to promote microgeneration and decentralised energy is aimed at making localised energy a real possibility for householders and communities across the UK.

It is the result of collaboration with the industry, consumer groups and others, and follows a public consultation which closed in March this year.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “I want to see a revolution in energy generation at a local level, giving genuine power to the people. We want to help people who are enthusiastic to generate their own energy matched by an industry with the desire, creativity and tenacity to grow in a sustainable and responsible way. That’s why we have worked with industry to develop a clear way forward which includes cutting red tape for micro hydro projects helping this industry to prosper.”
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Issue 17  17/06/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Call for sharper EU carbon cuts

Over 70 European companies have signed up to a declaration calling on the European Union to increase its climate ambition and move to a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 from 1990 levels.

The call comes ahead of the EU Environment Council (21 June) and the European Parliament’s vote on moving beyond the existing 20% target (23 June). The businesses call on the EU to adopt a 30% emissions reduction target to preserve the European Union’s competitiveness, and build a low-carbon economy.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne welcomed the call, saying: “More and more businesses now realise that Europe’s future prosperity lies in a low carbon economy. There is a danger that the current lack of resolve from the EU will put a brake on the growth aspirations of some of Europe’s biggest firms.

“Backing from major corporations such as Ikea, Coca Cola and M&S will put greater pressure on the EU to raise its emissions reduction target to 30% and to establish clear incentives for low carbon growth as soon as possible.”
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ODA wins green award

Leading construction and support companies were recognised at the prestigious Business Commitment to the Environment (BCE) Awards ceremony in London on June 15.

Work by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to minimise the environmental impact of new venues and infrastructure for the London 2012 Games won the prestigious Sir Peter Parker Award.

Leading glass and glazing manufacturer, Pilkington, won a Process Premier award for the refurbishment of its UK5 float glass line, the largest glass furnace in the UK. This included the installation of a pollution control plant, an improved combustion system, a new insulation package and an on-line glass coater. The project ensures the availability of glass with the lowest overall carbon footprint on the European market.

British Gypsum, May Gurney and Skanska all picked up major commendations for their environmental achievements making it a good night for the construction industry at the ceremony. All the awards were presented by former Marks & Spencer chairman, Sir Stuart Rose.
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All wrapped up

Ambitious plans to save seven million tonnes of CO2, prevent three million tonnes of waste and save the UK economy almost £2billion were unveiled recently by Wrap, the organisation working with UK Governments to improve resource efficiency.

The targets were developed by Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and unveiled as part of the organisation’s new business plan, launched by Chief Executive Liz Goodwin at the CIWM (Chartered Institution of Wastes Management) Conference in London.

She said the organisation’s focus would be on preventing waste occurring in the first place with continued focus on recycling, repairing and reusing. She also said there would be a greater emphasis on supporting communities, businesses and individuals who wanted to make changes with practical, research-based advice, citing the million people using the organisation’s Recycle Now and Love Food Hate Waste websites.
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Issue 16  10/06/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Carbon targets missed?

The Government risks failing to achieve emissions reduction targets despite its ambition, according to the CBI.

Launching its latest Climate Change Tracker on Wednesday June 8, the CBI said the Government had set the wheels in motion in a number of key areas, including providing more clarity on Climate Change Agreements and funding for the Green Investment Bank.

But it warned that investor confidence remains low, with the UK falling from 5th to 13th in a global ranking of low-carbon investment.

The tracker shows that only one of the 13 indicators is on track, and that progress is lagging on decarbonising buildings, transport and industry.

The CBI has highlighted the damage to business confidence caused by unexpected changes to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme, feed-in tariffs and the North Sea oil and gas tax. Uncertainty also surrounds a number of major policies, including electricity market reform, funding for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), the Renewable Heat Initiative, and consumer grants for low-carbon vehicles.
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Public protection

People are to be given the ability to protect environmentally and locally important special green spaces, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced on Wednesday June 8.

The recently published Natural Environment White Paper includes proposals to give communities new powers to designate protected green areas as part of local neighbourhood plans.

Local communities will be able to earmark for special consideration local 'green space' land – whether its value is in its natural beauty, its historic resonances, its recreational value, its tranquillity or its importance as wildlife habitat.

The recent National Ecosystem Assessment concluded that the health benefits of living close to a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year. Urban green spaces can affect house values, mental wellbeing, air and water quality, carbon absorption and can provide natural flood defences and drainage.

More information on the UK National Ecosystem Assessment can be found here uknea.unep-wcmc.org
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Issue 15  03/06/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

New Green Deal Code outlined

The Government has outlined how consumers will be protected under the Green Deal.

Initiatives include a ‘Green Deal advice line’ and an independent body established to ensure standards are met.

Greg Barker said: “The Green Deal will be the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War shifting our outdated draughty homes from the past into the future, so it’s vital people can trust it. I have heard too many cases of shoddy workmanship or dodgy technology from Government schemes in the past so from day one there will be strict rules about standards, information will be readily available and there will be a proper route for complaints.

“We’ve already started putting in place the foundations for this and I am pleased the United Kingdom Accreditation Service has been formally appointed to ensure that installers and assessors will meet the necessary standards when the Green Deal starts next year.”
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Certificate study

A CIBSE study has found that the benchmark figures used in Display Energy Certificates are fit-for-purpose, with 94% of buildings included in the study showing a good correlation between the benchmarks and the actual operational ratings.

CIBSE has published the results of a study of the first 45,000 DECs lodged on the Landmark register from October 2008 to mid-February 2010. The study focused on Operational Ratings, to assess the applicability of the CIBSE Benchmarks and to recommend to the Department of Communities and Local Government any immediate changes needed to the benchmarks or allowances.
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Web support

The Cut the Carbon Partnership has launched a new e-mail alert service to help small and medium sized (SME) contractors cut through confusion surrounding low carbon policy and take advantage of the business opportunities on offer.

The free alerts will count down to impending low carbon policy and legislation such as the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentives and the Green Investment Bank, signposting SMEs to the skills and knowledge they need to respond.

Interested businesses can find more information on the Countdown alerts at www.cskills.org/cutcarbon.
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May 2011

Issue 14  27/05/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green bank must deliver

The Government can still have a home energy efficiency revolution but only by using the Green Investment Bank to help deliver the Green Deal, said the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to new announcements about the world's first bank focused on greening the economy.

Homes contribute 27% of the UK's total carbon emissions and 85% of homes will still be standing in 2050 when the UK is under a legal obligation to have reduced carbon emissions by 80%. The Green Deal is the Government's flagship policy designed to reduce carbon emissions from the domestic sector, but the Green Deal finance offer must be made more attractive to householders, and more freely available if it is to achieve the desired results, the federation said.
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Simplifying development

The latest measures to help simplify development consents, by cutting red tape and creating a more open and competitive planning system, were set out recently in the Government’s progress update to the Penfold Review.

The update, an important action from the Growth Review, details the progress since the Government’s response to the independent review published in November last year, which includes:

• Expanding the simplified approach to the environmental permitting system, allowing developers to apply for one consent rather than several
• Creating a lighter touch application process for low-impact environmental consents
• Setting out service standards for the major consenting bodies to improve the ease of applying for consents, such as named points of contact, clearer guidance on whether consents are needed and encouraging early discussion to smooth an application process
• Consulting on a code to increase transparency of the decision making process in Local Authorities
• Creating a protocol to guide working between the Environment Agency, Local Authorities and developers to cut out duplication and confusion.
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‘Bring councils into line’

A renewable energy company has called upon the Government to stop councils going against laws intended to encourage solar power schemes. Clear rules spell out how homeowners can have solar PV installed as long as the work is done by a fully approved contractor. However, a number of councils are going against the Government’s guidance by wrongly telling people they require planning permission or Building Regulations approval.

David Hunt, a director with Eco Environments, which has six offices across the UK, said: “The Government’s rules are clear. Planning permission is not required unless you live in a listed building or conservation area and Building Regulations are not required as long as the homeowner uses a contractor under the Government’s Competent Person Scheme.

“Even in a conservation area, planning should be permitted and Building Regulations should not be necessary as long as the homeowner notifies the local authority and uses accredited installers.
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Issue 13  20/05/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

UK proposes Fourth Carbon Budget
A limit on the total amount of greenhouse gases to be emitted by the UK between 2023 to 2027 has been proposed to cut Britain’s emissions by 50% from 1990 levels.

The proposal, set out by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, is in line with advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change. It sets a fourth carbon budget of 1950 MtCO2e for the period that will span from 2023 to 2027, putting the UK on course to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

The carbon budget will place the British economy at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation, and ensure low carbon energy security and decarbonisation is achieved at least cost to the consumer.
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Strong, independent, regulator is crucial
DECC has published the conclusions of two reviews that aim to support the delivery of energy and climate change goals by strengthening the way regulation is carried out in the gas and electricity markets, and improving delivery of DECC programmes.

The Ofgem Review proposes new legislation for government to set high-level strategic goals that the energy regulator will play a part in meeting. DECC’s Delivery Review will result in increased accountability and help maximise value for money for the delivery of DECC programmes.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said: “A strong, independent regulator will be crucial to building the secure, affordable, low-carbon energy we need. Long-term certainty is vital too. We are proposing to set clear goals which Ofgem must play its part in meeting, so that industry and consumers know the rules of the game.
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Landfill tax increase
Landfill tax increased by £8 per tonne from April 1st, which is encouraging more commercial organisations to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill by introducing new recycling procedures, according to workplace equipment provider Slingsby.

This latest landfill tax hike means businesses will pay £56 for each tonne of waste they send to landfill and the tax is set to continue increasing by £8 per year until April 2014.

Lee Wright, marketing director of Slingsby, said: “Although most organisations have become more environmentally responsible over the last few years, April's landfill tax increase means there's more potential than ever to make major cost savings simply by recycling. In addition new recycling schemes that are introduced will now pay for themselves quicker than ever before.
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Issue 12  13/05/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Pressure builds on government
Almost two thirds (59%) of the public think the government is not doing enough to improve energy efficiency in British homes, according to latest YouGov poll results.

That is why a coalition of 60 organisations from big business to environment groups and major trade associations is calling on the government to strengthen its Energy Bill to prove it is serious about ‘being the greenest government ever’.

Public pressure is now mounting on MPs to amend the Energy Bill. The poll finds that when informed about the Energy Bill currently being debated in parliament, more than half the population (54%) want their MPs to vote for improvements to the Bill that will ground the energy efficiency programme in the need to deliver towards meeting the existing legally binding carbon emission reduction targets.
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Green plans welcomed
The British Property Federation (BPF) has welcomed plans to introduce minimum energy efficiency from 2018 in the private rented sector (PRS), but warned of ‘significant consequences’ if capacity in the energy efficiency sector is not increased to meet demand.

The BPF was responding to comments made by Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, who announced changes at the second reading of the Energy Bill.

Huhne said: “The Government has made it clear that renting out dangerously cold and draughty homes is unacceptable – landlords will have to improve their properties or face prosecution.”
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Major role for renewables
The Committee on Climate Change has said that renewable energy should make a major contribution to decarbonising the UK economy over the next decades.

The conclusions are set out in the Committee’s Renewable Energy Review which was requested under the Coalition Agreement.

The review concluded that a renewable energy share of around 30% by 2030 would be appropriate, with scope for a higher share (eg up to 45%) depending on the extent to which renewable technology costs fall and possible constraints on deployment of low-carbon alternatives.
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Issue 11  06/05/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Green Deal fears
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said that when surveyed, almost 44% of its members thought homeowners were unlikely to take advantage of the Green Deal when it launches in autumn 2012. Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB said: “The Government is hoping that its Green Deal will persuade homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient but almost 44% of our members, small building firms that are in contact with homeowners on a daily basis, think homeowners are unlikely to take advantage of it.

“If the Government wants the Green Deal to be a success it should start by offering additional incentives. 70% of respondents to our survey believe that cutting VAT to 5% on all energy efficient materials and work would increase homeowner interest. More than a quarter also believe that council tax reductions would be the biggest incentive for homeowners.”

The FMB also said that almost half of its members felt they could be squeezed out of the market by the major energy companies. “The FMB is therefore calling on the Government to help small building companies have equal access to the energy efficiency market by allowing an independent third party financial provider to handle Green Deal finance packages,” Brian said. “This would help ensure that small building companies can compete fairly with the larger companies who will be offering ‘one–stop-shops’ to consumers.”

Grant Shapps backs self-builders

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said the Government will 'put its money where its mouth is' and help more people to realise their dream of building their own home.

Speaking at Grand Designs Live 2011, Mr Shapps said that he wanted self build to become a mainstream housing option, and that Government would play its part by making available publicly owned land for use by ordinary people to build their own homes.
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New initiative

Linden Homes has announced plans for a new sustainability initiative that it would like to see taken up by the industry.

The house builder is investigating the initiative, which it said would provide the opportunity to cut carbon, improve water efficiency, reduce energy costs, create additional jobs while delivering new homes that people want to live in.
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April 2011

Issue 10   28/04/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Sun shines brightly
The UK Feed-in-tariff has been around for one full year now, and solar panels are clearly becoming much more popular in the UK than ever before, explained CompareMySolar.com

A total amount of 77,864 kWp or 28,602 solar panel installations (average 2.7 kWp) have been reported to Ofgem, the government energy regulator, between April 1st 2010 and March 31st 2011. Over 90% of this was installed in England, and the rest in Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland consumers can’t apply for FiTs for now). Looking at these UK solar panel installations, what are the most popular areas?

Using Ofgem data CompareMySolar created a UK map [INSERT PICTURE a], showing the number of solar installations per county in the last year. Popular counties (> 500 solar panel installations) are located in three clusters. The first is the South-West, from Devon (931) and Cornwall (527) to Hampshire (918) due to the large amount of sunlight available in these counties. Read the Rest Here

Tall, lean and green warehouses
At the launch of its Warehouse of the Future research, BNP Paribas Real Estate, in conjunction with Gazeley and Legal and General, identified the key factors that will shape the future development of warehouses and highlighted sustainability, cost, location and high eaves are the main priorities for occupiers.

To produce the report BNP Paribas Real Estate canvassed opinion from leading UK retailers, 3PLs and manufacturers to discover what factors would define the warehouse of the future.

Paul Rixon, head of logistics at BNP Paribas Real Estate said: “We have not seen large-scale development in the UK logistics market for a number of years. Our research indicates that new stock will be delivered on to the market over the next few years predominantly through design and build projects with a potential move towards speculative development anticipated in 2011. Undoubtedly the logistics sector has evolved since the last wave of development and our research has revealed that occupiers have changing priorities and demands for their properties.” BNP Paribas Real Estate’s Warehouse of the Future report highlights sustainability as being at the forefront of occupier’s requirements with 86% of respondents agreeing that sustainability initiatives are important to the future of warehousing.
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Ten quick wins
Energy consultant Sustain Lincolnshire has come up with ‘ten quick wins’ to cut costs, save energy and streamline production.

There are many resource efficiency initiatives that can be undertaken in construction. These can lead to additional benefits other than just cost.

Energy consultant Sam Jones of Sustain Lincolnshire developed the ten quick wins plan to help construction companies cut back on energy useage. The suggestions highlight areas where improvements could be possible with relatively little effort and quick pay back times. In general, these actions would represent the first steps in reducing environmental impact and further improvement will be possible through the development and implementation of a more comprehensive environmental management plan.
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Issue 9
  21/04/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

£52m solar power deal announced
Surface Power, a manufacturer of innovative proprietary solar thermal systems for domestic and commercial rooftops, today announced a new £52m multi-year Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) framework agreement with UK solar integrator, Solar Fusion.

The RHI commences in July and will create not only jobs, but also a new era for solar technology in the UK.
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Heating and insulation improvements
The Warm Front scheme installs insulation and heating improvements to make homes more energy efficient. The scheme now has a new set of eligibility criteria and will be accepting new applications from 14 April 2011. Find out more about the Warm Front scheme, including who qualifies and how to apply.
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Issue 8   15/04/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

CRC report highlights surprising findings
Lack of awareness of sustainability issues is prominent among private sector organisations, report finds.

The first in-depth report into the participants of the UK CRC Energy Efficiency scheme has found that there is a wide variation regarding the perceived interest in sustainability and carbon management across the 19 sub-sectors within the public and private sectors that are affected by the scheme.
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Ten-year targets met
The European PVC industry has released the final Progress Report on Vinyl 2010 – the ten year voluntary commitment launched in 2000 to enhance the sustainable production and use of PVC.

The report highlighted the huge advances made by the industry over the past decade in waste management, innovative recycling technologies, stakeholder engagement and responsible use of additives.

Vinyl 2010 has succeeded in meeting or exceeding all of the targets set by the industry in 2000.

As it comes to an end, a new industry commitment towards sustainability will be launched later in 2011 which will require the ongoing active support of the PVC value chain and a wide range of other stakeholders in the public and private sector.
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Issue 7   08/04/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Policy contravened
While the introduction of the Government’s Green Deal may offer tax cut incentives to thermally efficient homes, many Conservation Officers under English Heritage guidance stand resolutely defiant against many listed properties, and those in Conservation areas, being sensibly renovated to reduce CO2 emissions demanded by Government targets.

Mumford & Wood claims that English Heritage and Conservation Officers ignore every green initiative endorsed by everyone active against global warming, and they have a head-in-the-sand position, which is not only diametrically opposite to every known building improvement criteria but also forces further damage into the property fabric they are claiming to protect.
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Sustainability ‘toolkits’
The Better Buildings Partnership, a collaboration of 15 of the largest commercial property owners in the UK, in partnership with the Mayor of London and the LDA, has published its latest Toolkit which sets out how it believes managing agents should incorporate best sustainability practice into the management of buildings.

In light of the increasing amount of environmental legislation and growing importance of sustainability and CSR reporting, it is becoming ever more important, for both property owners and occupiers, that their buildings are managed in a way which reduces adverse environmental impacts and identifies opportunities for improvement.
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Switch off wind farm funding
A Scottish Euro MP has called for over €1bn of funding for UK windfarms to be switched off. In a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Struan Stevenson, Conservative, told Philippe Maystadt – president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) – that the funding of industrial wind developments is "an unfolding financial scandal" that the EIB should no longer support.

In the debate on the EIB'S Annual Report on Thursday 7th April Mr Stevenson said: "The EIB is providing up to €1bn for the construction of wind turbines and other renewable energy projects in the UK. While this fits neatly within the EU strategy to fight against climate change, I am alarmed that the current criteria governing EIB funding lacks transparency and accountability when it comes to examination and due diligence of the projects concerned.
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Issue 6   01/04/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

‘Bill needs to be more ambitious’
The Energy Bill needs to be more ambitious if it is to succeed in getting householders to make their homes more energy efficient, said the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and WWF in a joint statement issued today.

The joint statement marks the launch of the joint ‘Demand a Better Bill’ campaign, led by the FMB, WWF, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and a number of other organisations.
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‘Display energy certificates’ demand UK-GBC
The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has called for the mandatory display of an A-G rating for the energy efficiency of all non-residential buildings, to drive efficiency, cut costs, and to encourage refurbishment. It said the measure should be introduced as part of the Energy Bill.

Display Energy Certificates (DECs) provide both an ‘at-a-glance indicator’ and detailed technical information on the energy performance of buildings.
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Concerns over green measures
The CBI has reiterated it’s support for the Green Deal, but has said that it’s success is far from certain.

Speaking at the Home Builders Federation (HBF) Spring Policy Conference, John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “The CBI supports the ambitions of the Green Deal. This is likely to support 100,000 jobs by 2015 and 250,000 at its peak, offering the construction industry up to £5bn a year in new business for the next 40 years. However, we’re concerned that the Government risks failing to attract businesses to deliver the Green Deal unless it provides greater clarity on how it will be financed and promoted.”

Mr Cridland also expressed concern about the implementation of the Code for Sustainable Homes, and the associated costs, which “have led to further concerns over site viability,” he said. “So we’d like to see local authorities prevent any additional measures being demanded above existing code levels or building regulations.”

March 2011

Issue 5   25/03/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Reduced FITs proposed for large projects

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published its proposals for a review into the feed-in tariff (FIT), which would see large-scale solar projects of more than 50kW receive lower payment levels.

According to DECC, there is around 169MW of large-scale solar capacity in the planning system, which would fund the solar panels of around 50,000 homes. If the trend continued, it could also see funding for other renewables such as wind and hydro electricity depleted.

"I want to make sure that we capture the benefits of fast falling costs in solar technology to allow even more homes to benefit from feed in tariffs, rather than see that money go in bumper profits to a small number of big investors," explained climate change minister Greg Barker.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) was critical of the move. The organisation said that critical size is needed to achieve price reductions. Before the announcement of the review, the REA estimated that 17,000 new solar jobs would be created by the end of 2011. Read the Rest Here

U-turn is anti-green and anti-growth
The UK Green Building Council has criticised the Government's u-turn on zero carbon homes, which will mean new homes from 2016 will not have to source all their energy from carbon-neutral sources.

UK-GBC chief executive Paul King said the policy u-turn revealed a shocking weakening of the government’s green agenda which would remove a valuable stimulus for low carbon growth.

Paul King said: “In the space of two weeks, this government has gone from a firm commitment on zero carbon homes, to a watered down policy. A zero carbon home will no longer do what it says on the tin. The world leading commitment that new homes would not add to the carbon footprint of our housing stock from 2016 has been scrapped despite a remarkable consensus between industry and NGOs in support of it.

“Thanks to a crude de-regulation agenda we now have a policy that is not only anti-green but anti-growth. Low carbon construction has been one of the few sectors showing genuine green shoots of growth. This u-turn will result in loss of confidence leading to lower investment, less innovation, fewer green jobs and fewer carbon reductions. It is a backward step by a government that wanted to be seen as ‘the greenest ever’.”
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Budget fails to ignite green revolution
For a Government committed to being ‘the greenest ever’, this week’s Budget failed to ignite the forthcoming Green Deal programme to retrofit our nation’s homes, said the Federation of Master Builders said. No additional incentives such as a cut in VAT for energy efficient repairs, stamp duty or council tax were announced to make Britain’s homes greener and more energy efficient.

Richard Diment, director general of the FMB said: “The Chancellor missed an opportunity today to support the Green Deal and kick start consumer demand to make our homes greener. Without creating demand in the market for energy efficient improvement it is difficult to see how the Green Deal will succeed when it starts in the autumn of 2012.
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Issue 4   18/03/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Construction waste to landfill down

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has announced that the amount of Construction, Demolition and Excavation (CD&E) waste the industry sends to landfill each year has decreased.

To date, 32 construction contractors have monitored and reported annual performance for their CD&E waste through the WRAP Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal. These companies consist of most of the UK’s largest contractors and represent total construction annual spend in excess of £21 billion over the reporting period.

The combined figures for the 32 companies show an absolute decrease of 28% in the CD&E waste sent to landfill between 2008 and 2009. That is a drop from 3.1 million tonnes in 2008 to 2.2 million tonnes by year end 2009.
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PVCU recycling aims achieved
More than quarter a million of tonnes of post-consumer PVCU was recycled in Europe last year through Recovinyl, the PVC industry’s recycling initiative, comfortably exceeding its 240,000 tonnes target by the end of 2010.

The UK contributed around 20% to the European total of 254,814 tonnes by recycling 49,343 tonnes of post-consumer PVC in 2010. Materials collected and recycled through the Recovinyl programme included window profiles, pipes, cables, flexible and rigid PVC.
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Design’s leading light
British designer Samuel Wilkinson and product design company Hulger, have won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2011 for their redesign of the low energy light bulb.

Beating over 90 entries to claim the winning title, 2011 Jury Chair Stephen Bayley presented the award at this week’s awards ceremony held at the Design Museum.
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Issue 3   11/03/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Renewable Heat Incentive launched to reduce emissions
The government has launched a £860m scheme to encourage £4.5bn green capital investment up to 2020, by stimulating a new market in renewable heat. industrial, commercial, public sector and domestic installations will be eligible, and 150,000 existing manufacturing, supply chain and installer jobs are expected to be supported.

The Department for Energy & Climate Change has said the “Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will support emerging technologies and businesses in the UK, strengthening security of supply by reducing dependence on fossil fuel heating and emissions”.
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Green Deal forerunner announced

Housing Minister Grant Shapps unveiled a project that will pave the way for the green transformation of Britain's social homes – making them warmer and more comfortable to live in, while making them cheaper to run – which is seen as a forerunner to the Green Deal. In the largest scheme of this kind to date, improvements such as solid wall insulation and better heating systems will be made to 9,000 social homes in Manchester to make them more energy efficient.
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Climate change partnership
Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Councillor Richard Kemp, Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week designed to recognise the role that local councils have in tackling climate change.

The MOU sets out how DECC and the Local Government (LG) Group will work together to help and encourage all councils to take firm action to:
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Issue 2   04/03/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Taking to the water
UK timber manufacturer John Brash has been trialling the use of barges to transport timber from the ports to its Lincolnshire manufacturing base with the aim of reducing its carbon footprint. The company manufactures roofing battens and scaffold boards at its site in Gainsborough from European softwood imported via the ports of Hull and Goole.
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Mapping solar energy potential
As photovoltaics become more popular, Bluesky is rolling out national coverage of its Solar Suitability Map. By mapping the potential for power generation using solar panels on roofs, the Solar Map is designed to identify optimum properties for solar power, helping to achieve renewable energy targets and reduce energy costs. Bluesky said it has seen a growing demand for its solar mapping among local authorities, utilities, housing associations and solar panel companies.
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Carbon footprint charted
Crown Paints has launched a new initiative to chart the carbon footprint of every product it makes. The manufacturer has worked with sustainability consultants Best Foot Forward on a comprehensive study of its products which will now underpin Crown Paints’ action towards sustainability.

With analysis including the impact up and down the supply chain, Crown Paints now has a benchmark from which to reduce its carbon footprint across the business. At Ecobuild, Crown Paints announced it would use the sound data produced as a catalyst to drive down greenhouse gas emissions across the life-cycle of its entire product range by 10% in 2015, and 25% in 2020.
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February 2011

Issue 1
  24/02/11   click here to view

Lead Stories

Call for green budget
An influential group of businesses, NGOs and MPs have urged the Chancellor to set out a comprehensive green growth strategy in next month’s Budget. This would help reduce the budget deficit and drive a dynamic economic recovery by increasing output and creating jobs. A new report, to be published next week by the Aldersgate Group, finds that governments around the world are implementing plans to attract global investment in environmental technologies and the UK is losing momentum in this green economy race.
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Signs of green practice
The amount of plasterboard being sent to landfill has reduced for the third year running, implying that builders are reducing waste and increasing recycling measures.

The latest report on plasterboard waste, produced as part of the Ashdown Agreement, describes a third year in which waste gypsum has been reduced across all four targets. This year’s report in particular shows a significant drop in the amount of gypsum landfilled during the manufacture of new plasterboard; down to just 504 tonnes (12 months to 31 March 2010) against the original target of 10,000 tonnes (year 2007/08). Read the Rest Here

Deep heat for the North
Engineers at Newcastle University have begun an ambitious project to drill 2,000m under the heart of the city in search of renewable energy.

In a landmark project that will reach new depths in an attempt to harness geothermal heat from the earth, the Newcastle team hope to eventually pump out water at a temperature of around 80ºC.
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