Tokyo kicks off carbon trading scheme
7th April 2010
Japanese metropolis launches Asia's first emissions cap-and-trade scheme.
Plans for a national Japanese emissions trading scheme may still be mired in confusion, but that has not stopped Tokyo winning the race to launch Asia's first carbon trading initiative.
The city last week kicked off its long-awaited carbon trading scheme, which will require 1,400 of Tokyo's most energy and carbon intensive organisations to meet legally binding emission targets modeled on those used in Europe's cap-and-trade scheme.
During the first phase of the scheme, which runs up to 2014, participating organisations will have to cut their carbon emissions by six per cent.
Those that fail to operate within their emission caps will from 2011 be required to purchase emission allowances to cover any excess emissions, or alternatively invest in renewable energy certificates or offset credits issued by smaller businesses or branch offices. However, under the rules of the scheme, credits issued outside of Tokyo can not exceed a third of the emission cuts required of participating organisations.
Those firms that fail to comply with the new rules will face fines and could also be named and shamed by the government. According to local reports, organisations that do not operate within their caps will also be ordered to cut emissions by 1.3 times the amount they failed to reduce emissions during the first phase of the scheme.
City officials said that in the long term the aim was to cut the metropolis' carbon emissions by 25 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020.
Yuki Arata, the director for emissions trading at the Tokyo metropolitan government's environment bureau, told news agency AFP that the scheme was also intended to work as a "model for the Japanese government".
Last month, the national government controversially delayed a decision on how to roll out its planned cap-and-trade scheme, approving a draft version of its climate change bill that failed to finalise the details on how the scheme will work.
While the government remains committed to implementing a cap-and-trade scheme and to cutting emissions by 25 per cent by 2020, it has delayed until after this summer's election its decision on whether to impose absolute or carbon-intensity caps through the scheme and is also yet to finalise how targets will be imposed on different industries.
M&S to become "World's most sustainable retailer" by 2015
8th March 2010
Marks & Spencer has announced its intentions to become the "World's most sustainable retailer" by 2015.
In the next five years, the store intends on launching 80 major new eco and ethical commitments as part of its Plan A. As part of these plans, the shop claims that it will convert all 2.7 billion individual items sold each year to Plan A products, meaning that each will carry "at least one sustainable or ethical quality". Other intentions include the launch of a new competition for customers which will encourage shoppers to submit green ideas to the store. Winning plans will be awarded £100,000 to be spent on improving the energy efficiency of a local organisation.
Sir Stuart Rose, chairman of Marks & Spencer, commented: "Since we launched our eco plan, Plan A, in 2007 we've reduced our environmental impact, developed new sustainable products and services, helped improve the lives of people in our local communities and saved around £50 million by being more efficient.
"We've now set ourselves the ambitious target of becoming the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015, so that we lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell."
The chain has already managed to reduce packaging by 10,000 tonnes and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 tonnes.
Government unveils plans to green existing homes
3rd March 2010
The government has unveiled plans for greening existing homes. The Warm Homes, Greener Homes strategy announced by energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband, aims to cut emissions from UK homes by 29% by 2020.
The strategy will be implemented in a three stages:
- to insulate six million homes by the end of 2011
- to have insulated all practical lofts and cavity walls by 2015
- and to have offered up to seven million eco upgrades by 2020 as well fitting all homes with smart meters.
As part of the package legislation will now be put in place to allow new "pay as you save" green loans to be tied to a property, which will avoid the up-front cost of eco upgrades and instead add a charge to the home's energy bill. A consultation will also be held on setting minimum energy efficiency standards for rented property.
Miliband said: “The Warm Homes, Greener Homes strategy will remove the deterrent of upfront costs and reduce the hassle of the move to greener living. Making homes more energy efficient will help protect people from upward pressure on bills, tackle climate change, and make us less reliant on imported energy”.
He added that new "pay as you save" green finance as well as moves to encourage landlords to stop ignoring energy wastage in their properties, will help deliver the radical transformation that's necessary.
The UK Green Building Council said the government announcement was a welcome move. Paul King, chief executive, said: “The biggest barrier to low-carbon refurbishment - the upfront cost - is set to fall. Pay as you save is a radical scheme, which could trigger a revolution in household refurbishment - creating at least 100,000 new jobs, saving money and conserving energy.”
Read more http://tinyurl.com/yfe6yrt
Europe's largest WEEE processing facilty opens
3rd March 2010
A WEEE recycling centre has opened and according to the owners it's got the biggest capacity for waste in Europe.
Launched today (March 3) the £10M plant in Grantham has the capacity to treat more than 100,000 tonnes of waste a year, according to environCom.
Using four separate plants each specifically designed for different waste streams and treatment processes, the ten acre site can process all forms of WEEE waste including up to 100 fridges, 100 TVs and 180 large domestic appliances every hour.
environCom chief executive, Joe Quigley, said: "Our Grantham facility is state-of-the art.
"We've invested £10M in the most advanced technology and equipment to take into account current and future requirements.
"Our recycling capacity is competitive with the biggest facilities in Europe and we intend to maintain our leading position as we roll out our expansion plans, which include the establishment of a footprint across the UK and then into Europe."
Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) finalised for Renewable Energy Schemes
8th Feb 2010
On 1st Feb 2010 the UK Government announced the details of it's Clean Energy Cashback Scheme- or feed-in tariff- for small-scale low-carbon electricity generation and plans to introduce similar incentives for low-carbon heating.
The Energy Act 2008 enabled the Government to offer financial support for low-carbon electricity generation in projects up to 5 megawatts (MW), with the aim of incentivising small-scale electricity generation. It also set in place powers to implement a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) aimed at renewable heat installations of all sizes, due to be implemented by April 2011.
From 1st April 2010 householders and Companies who install low carbon electricity technology such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines up to 5 megawatts will be paid for the electricity they generate, even if they use it themselves. The level of payment depends on the technology and is linked to inflation. The schemes are designed to bring about a significant increase in the amount of locally produced green energy, as a contribution to the wider shift of the energy mix to low carbon.
A further payment will also be paid for any electricity not used on site and fed into the grid. These payments will be in addition to benefiting from reduced bills as they reduce the need to buy electricity. The scheme will also apply to installations commissioned since July 2008 when the policy was announced. Ofgem will administer the feed-in tariff scheme and energy suppliers will be responsible for paying the reward to their customers.
Householders and Companies can apply for the feed-in tariff from their electricity supplier from April 2010.
For a domestic user implementing a small scale solar photovoltaic (PV) system on their property the power generated would typically be less than 4kW. Most homes will be able to accommodate between 2 to 3kW of PV and the costs are approximately £5,000 per kW installed. The Government grant scheme is still operational for domestic systems until 31st March 2010 so there is a unique opportunity to supplement the initial cost by up to £2,500 and benefit from the tariffs payable after April.
Example of a domestic Implementation
Purchase a 2kW PV system for approximately £12,000 at today’s prices. The government grant until April 2010 is worth £2,500 so this could reduce the cost to £9,500.
A 2kW system will generate around 1700kWh of electricity per year – based on the national average 850 kW hour yield per kW installed - assuming an un-shaded South-facing roof pitched at 30-40 degrees. The generation tariff will be set at 41.3p per unit (plus annual inflation). The Energy Saving Trust estimates about half of the electricity produced will be sold back to the grid (at 5p), and half will be used in the house which gives you savings on purchasing electricity (at 12p average).
Income from generation tariff = 1700 x 41.3p = £702 per year
Income from electricity sales (850 x 5p) = £42.50 per year
Savings on electricity purchase (850 x 12p) = £102 per year
TOTAL Estimated Income and Savings = £846.50 per year
After 25 years this accumulates to £846.50 x 25 = £21,162.50 (Gross) – assuming that electricity prices and the tariffs payable remain constant for the entire period – for an investment of £9,500 or £12,000!
Example of Commercial Implementation
Large scale industrial implementations are a little more complex as the costs per kW installed will be a little higher initially until processes and methodologies are streamlined. The cost of the panels will be reduced based on the volume purchased.
Installation of 500 kW of PV on a suitable commercial property will require a minimum of 5,000m² of available space, either on a commercial building roof or on a floor-mounted structure (for example as a car park shelter).
COSTS & REVENUES
500 kW Installation cost (approx) £ 1,525,000
Maintenance and Insurance costs (£25 per kW) £12,500 in Year 1
kWh generated at national average (850) 425,000 hrs in Year 1 – reducing by 0.5% p.a.
Revenue generated from Tariff at 29.3p £124,525 in Year 1
Revenue from exporting electricity at 5p per unit £2,125 in Year 1
Value of electricity saved £42,500 in Year 1
Total Income in Year One £156,650
Maintenance charges are increased by 2% per annum.
Tariff payment assumes an inflation rate of 1% per annum
Energy costs are also increased by 2% per annum
Degradation of panel estimated at 0.50% per annum
Total Income over 25 yrs allowing for degradation of panels, increased maintenance and electricity costs and reduced tariff fees £4,231,007
Average revenue per annum £169,240
Total Profit after 25 years £2,706,007
Looks like a no brainer to us! If this sounds like something you or your company would be interested in, give us a call to see how we can help.
Flush your work down the loo
1st Feb 2010
Is the best eco-invention so far? A Japanese company has invented, possibly, the cleverest office gadget of the year: a machine that turns waste paper into lavatory paper.
Instead of sending shredded documents to a recycling centre, incurring expense and energy, office managers will soon be able to feed them into a machine and turn them into lavatory paper.
Pop in 40 sheets of regular A4 paper, and a half-hour later, the paper has been shredded, mixed with water, turned into a pulp, flattened, dried and converted into a roll of lavatory paper.
The manufacturers of the White Goat machine estimates it costs about 10c (6p) to turn the waste paper into loo paper – equating to about six times cheaper than a roll of Andrex White Toilet Tissue, which usually retails for about 38p. However, it is estimated that the machine, made by Japanese company Oriental, will cost $100,000 (£630,000), making it suitable for large companies only.
The machine was unveiled about six weeks ago at the Eco Products trade fair in Tokyo, but the video demonstrating the technology became an internet hit when it was posted on the Diginfo.tv Japanese website last week.
Skills shortage will result in UK missing CO2 targets
20th January 2010
A recent study by the Royal Academy of Engineering warns the construction sector does not have the skills required to produce low-carbon buildings. The target is to reduce UK carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, however the Academy says the challenge of achieving this is vast and will require a dramatic increase in skills and awareness in the construction sector.
Doug King, who authored the report, said: “The sheer pace of change in the regulation of building energy performance has already created problems for the construction industry and the proposed acceleration of this process, aiming to achieve zero-carbon new buildings by 2020, will only widen the gulf between ambitious government policy and the industry’s ability to deliver.”
King, who is also founder of King Shaw Associates and visiting professor in building engineering physics at the University of Bath, called for the introduction of a new discipline: building engineering physics.
This discipline supports the existing professions of architecture, structural engineering and building services engineering. It would investigate the areas of natural science that relate to the energy performance of buildings and their indoor and outdoor environments.
According to the report, few in the construction industry know how to apply the principles of building engineering physics in the design of buildings and low-carbon design is scarcely taught at university level.
The report also calls for more reliable information on the actual energy and carbon performance of newly built or refurbished buildings, to validate new designs and establish benchmarks. It says government should lead by example, ensuring that full commissioning and post-occupancy evaluations against design targets are undertaken on all new publicly funded projects.
Read more: http://www.building.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=284&storycode=3156572&c=2#ixzz0dFcDiGfF
Could 'poo power' help heat the country?
14th January 2010
The UK is firmly in the grip of one of the coldest winters on record and many households are seeing their fuel bills soar. Although the government has dismissed fears over dwindling gas supplies during the big freeze, the weather highlights the desirability of finding more "green" fuel. One water firm thinks it may have the answer - and it is not wind or hydro power. Thames Water has successfully been using human toilet waste to make electricity for the past decade.
Long before you get to Beckton sewage treatment plant in east London the smell tells you it is near. Not strange considering it is the biggest sewage plant in Europe and treats a large majority of the waste coming from London's toilets. Human waste has long been seen as a by-product, but Thames Water claims it saved £15m last year, and generated 14% of its power, from either burning sludge or methane derived from its 13 million customers' toilets. In total the firm treats 2.8 billion litres of sewage every day from people in London, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Surrey.
Harjeet Singh is the plant manager for the sludge-powered generator at Beckton. Before it, and its sister plant Crossness on the other side of the River Thames, was built in 1998 at the cost of £165m, the sludge was simply deposited in the sea.
"It was taken on big barges out into the North Sea and dumped," Mr Singh explained. "A tanker was leaving every two minutes. Now we only have about four lorries of ash [the only by-product] a day."
Mr Singh describes the process which every day turns tons of human waste into electricity as "totally green". The raw sewage comes into the plant and is filtered, with anything that is not excrement or toilet paper removed, leaving a mix of 95% water and 5% solids which is then pumped into industrial 50m (165ft) compressors where the water is squeezed out, leaving solid "poo cakes". These cakes, which still contain a large amount of water but burn easily, are fed into a gigantic hot furnace which produces steam that drives a large turbine, creating electricity.
"In the same way our domestic boilers work," Mr Singh explained
The electricity generated has the capacity to power 10,000 homes but here it is fed back into Beckton's own system to keep the sewage plant running.
Mr Singh said: "A computer monitors emissions so we don't emit any nasties. "That's not happened in the past 12 years, we've not exceeded [limits] since we opened. At the end of the process we're left with about 30% ash."
He said the firm was looking into ways of using the ash in the future. "We don't want it to go to landfill and one thing we are looking at making with it is concrete", he said, showing a small test block he "made earlier". He said they were also toying with the idea of using the fat in the toilet sludge to make lipsticks and other cosmetics. However a more likely use may be as fertiliser for farmers and gardeners."The sludge contains lots of nutrients and has a high calorific content. But you can see a difference during the school holidays and Christmas; there's less waste coming into the plant because people are away from the city. There is also a difference in the summer holidays in the calorific value of the sludge; it's lower because people eat more salads."
Source: BBC News
New home solar panels unveiled
12 December 2009
A new solar panel that can generate up to 20 per cent more electricity than other systems is being rolled out in the UK. However, only households with flat and low-slope roofs will be suitable for the renewable energy device.
Entitled the Solyndra, the gadget compromises a string of tubes around which photovoltaics are wrapped, making it distinctive from other flat solar panel models. The tubes do not require any surface penetrations and can withstand wind speeds of up to force 12 without needing any anchorage.
According to its developers, the Solyndra boasts a higher claimed energy yield and improved reliability thanks to its combined use of copper indium gallium selenide and natural circulation of air.
Statistics published by new homes website SmartNewHomes.com have revealed that one-third of the UK's total carbon emissions are emitted from homes. Under the Climate Change Act, the government is committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.
Renewables in Action - Water
1st December 2009
A sheep farm in the Brecon Beacons in mid-Wales is providing a glimpse of a post-carbon future, one in which green electricity is generated locally. The farmer involved, Howell Williams, has found that low emissions can mean high profits. He is making £900 a month from going green!
Howell has worked on the damp, golden hills above the village of Abercraf for 30 years. One day, trampling back down along one of the streams that tip down from the hilltop, he had an eye-opening moment.
"I thought: 'What terrific power!'" he remembers. "If only we could harness this."
Howell Williams spent £25,000 on a water turbine, housed in a small shed over the stream, just next to his farm. A £2,500 grant from the Brecon Beacons National Park helped him reduce the cost. He showed me the equipment after a rainy few days and it was generating at its maximum rate, a constant 11kW, all of it sold to the local electricity company.
"I think I am generating enough electricity for 20 houses," Mr Howell says.
World leaders are under pressure to agree a climate deal in the Copenhagen talks, but the only pressure Howell Williams feels is from the water gushing 90 metres down the hillside. He is thinking about installing another turbine. On a recent Sunday, 20 local farmers came to see his mini-hydro station and 14 of them said they could see the potential for similar installations on their own farms.
Welsh hill farmers have always struggled to scrape a living. Water power offers the prospect of a steady income to supplement the up and down earnings from selling lamb.
A few miles away, in the picturesque Dyuffryn Crawnon valley, plans are being hatched for a bigger water turbine on another steep hillside dotted with woods, sheep and stone farm buildings. The difference is that this is to be a community project. The profits, expected to be £12,000 a year, will be spent on energy-saving schemes for residents and more water turbines. Projects like this are tiny compared with the overall demand for power, but the plans are just a start.
"It's not going to generate all of our electricity needs but it's going to produce a lot of it," explains Chris Blake, who runs a local initiative called The Green Valleys, "And if we can get 40 or 50 schemes in this area then it really does start to make a big difference."
He points out that the water is only "borrowed": it's extracted upstream and returned to the river below the turbine. And the turbine house will be hardly visible, half-buried and covered in a turf roof. The 16kW Dyffryn Crawnon turbine will generate almost as much power as the inhabitants of the valley currently use.
"This valley probably has scope for four or five such schemes which would make it a carbon negative valley, this within 5 years. It's something fantastic to show to Copenhagen."
Howell Williams took me to round up sheep and lambs and move them to some fresh, glistening pasture, in order to show off the spring above Abercraf which feeds his stream. Water is diverted at this point to shoot down the hillside in a buried plastic pipe, gathering speed and force along the way. He restricts grazing and the size of his flock, to try to control it's impact on the landscape. But the water turbine has transformed his environmental credentials and he is beginning to look at the sustainability of the farm as a whole.
Farming has had to face difficult questions in the debate over global warming. There are the tractors, the manufactured feed and the methane given off by livestock, all combine to create a carbon footprint which has to be justified.
"You're producing carbon-negative lamb," I suggest.
"Yes," Howell agrees, "I should imagine 90% anyway."
"I think it's a good route to take with livestock. We should make use of any natural resources we've got - wood, water, the air you use. It can all be brought together in one package."
Not many people are lucky enough to have a steep slope and a fast-running stream on hand, but if objectives set in Copenhagen are to be achieved, everyone will have to look around them, like Howell Williams, and find whatever opportunities they can to reduce their carbon emissions.
Source: BBC News
Put out the rubbish and turn on the gas
25th October 2009
The answer to dwindling North Sea gas reserves may lie in our rubbish bins. National Grid estimates that up to a fifth of Britain’s gas needs could be met by capturing gas produced from decaying household waste and pumping it straight into the national supply. The problem is finding the technology to make it possible. A company backed by Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, and Fidelity International, the fund manager, says it has the answer.
Sterecycle has built an autoclave recycling plant, which blasts waste with steam under high pressure. The process, akin to that used in hospitals to sterilise surgical tools, separates inorganic material such as plastics and reduces biological matter to fibrous compost. The company is now in talks with investors about building a plant that would break down that compost into bio-methane, and National Grid is studying how to link the facility to the gas network.
If it goes ahead, the plant at Rotherham would be a world first and could help to establish a new gas source to replace dwindling North Sea reserves. “In terms of energy efficiency and security of supply, it’s a very exciting project,” said Janine Freeman, head of the sustainable gas group at National Grid.
Britain is now a net importer of gas, brought by giant ships from as far away as Australia. National Grid estimates that if every piece of food waste in Britain were converted into gas, it could provide 18% of the country’s needs. The meticulous sorting needed for most waste-to-energy technology has stunted its development. The plant can handle all household waste. Duncan Grierson, chief executive of Sterecycle, said: “The magic of our process is that the waste doesn’t need to be sorted.” Grierson is seeking new investment to build the £25m anaerobic digestion plant that would convert the compost into fuel. Anaerobic digesters are large steel tanks, starved of oxygen and filled with enzymes, which break down organic material into methane.
The technology is proven. J Sainsbury, for example, is installing anaerobic digesters to take food waste from its supermarkets. So far, however, the methane produced by such plants has been burnt to generate electricity. If the gas were sent into the grid to be burnt in home boilers, it would be used much more efficiently.
Freeman said National Grid was lobbying the government to ensure than the renewable heat incentive, a subsidy for low-carbon heat technologies due to start in 2011, is generous enough to encourage more Sterecycle-style facilities. Virtually all subsidies target electricity generation rather than heat.
Source: Sunday Times- 25th October 2009
Government publish response to CRC Consultation
7th October 2009
Earlier in the year the Government held a 12 week consultation with the aim of clarifying how the CRC scheme will be implemented while addressing some outstanding policy issues on recent proposals. Over 250 responses were received from stakeholders which were carefully reviewed and a formal response has now been issued, together with revised guidance on the CRC. The full documents are available to download from the DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) website www.decc.gov.uk.
We have summarised the changes to the policy as a result of the consultation below:
The Carbon Reduction Commitment will now be known as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC). The title has been adapted to better reflect the primary objective of the scheme which is the achievement of carbon emission reductions through increased energy efficiency.
Participants fees have been announced at £950 for registration and £1,290 annual fee. There may be additional fees for other transactions.
The first sale of allowances in April 2011 will now only require participants to purchase allowances for the year ahead and no longer for the previous year as well. This comes after stakeholder concern regarding the impact of a double sale on their cash flow. As a result, the first year of the Introductory Phase will therefore become a monitoring period. See our timeline diagram here.
This has been clarified as some Landlords objected on the basis that they have no control over how their tenants use their energy. The new guidance states “Where the tenant is responsible for the supply, it or it’s parent organisation will be responsible for those emissions in CRC. Where a landlord is responsible for the energy supply used by tenants, the landlord will be responsible for that energy use & the emissions in CRC, and Government will not allow transfer of responsibility from the landlord to the tenant”. Government aims to encourage landlord organisations to work collaboratively with their tenants to influence the way tenants use energy. The intention is that CRC will also encourage good practice such as sub-metering so that costs and benefits can be fairly distributed.
Large subsidiaries that would qualify in their own right can now choose whether to disaggregate themselves from their organisational group and participate independently. To reflect these changes, Principal Subsidiaries are now referred to as Significant Group Undertakings.
Early Action Metric
Organisations which have demonstrated commitment to reducing their emissions either by achieving the Carbon Trust Standard, or accreditation from an equivalent scheme can use this to be counted towards the Early Action metric. The relative weighting of this metric in the overall performance score, compared to the Absolute reduction and Growth metrics, will be reduced more gradually to better recognise early action taken, from 100% in the first year, 40% in the second year and 20% in the third year.
Treatment of Renewables
The CRC will treat electricity which receives a Feed In Tariff in the same way as electricity which is issued a Renewable Obligation Certificate, and has simplified the approach to reporting and accounting for renewably generated electricity. As an energy efficiency mechanism, CRC will not provide additional incentives for renewable generation. We will, however, publish alongside the performance league table, the organisations increase in onsite renewable generation together with energy efficiency savings. This will allow organisations to gain reputational credit for their investment in onsite renewables.
Public Sector Organisations
The definition of a public sector organisation has been simplified to create better clarity for participants in the CRC. Organisations designated as a “public authority” in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002 will participate in CRC on the basis of their individual FOI/FOI (S) listing, unless they are legally part of another body, in which case they would participate as part of that parent body.
UNEP-SBCI Call to Action
28th August 2009
UNEP-SBCI (United Nations Environment Programme- Sustainable Buildings & Climate Initiative) is a partnership between major public and private sector building industry stakeholders and UNEP. Since 2006 SBCI has developed a common platform for discussing and reaching consensus on buildings and climate change issues. The membership, representatives from the real estate and building industry, its key stakeholders, international research and advocacy networks, and major private-sector enterprises are committed to taking immediate action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Below are the key points outlined in the UNEP-SBCI submission document & industry call to action.
- The building industry has the greatest potential for delivering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts, at the least cost, using available and mature technologies.
- Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of global energy use and up to 30% of global GHG emissions.
- Countries must support the building industry to meet their existing commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and to the Bali Roadmap.
- The building industry can deliver significant cost savings and improvements in energy and resource use. It can also create jobs and improve local economies.
Copenhagen’s climate change framework can facilitate GHG emissions reduction in the building industry by:
- Recognising the building industry as a top priority for achieving GHG emissions reductions.
- Enabling market based measures that can support investment in building projects that are
energy efficient and reduce GHG emissions.
- Building capacity and transfer technology to enable improvements in energy efficiency of buildings.
- Supporting reform of flexible mechanisms to encourage investment in projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from new and existing buildings.
- Encouraging UNFCCC to establish working groups to develop specific measures for the building industry prior to the next commitment period.
- Encouraging governments to inventory and set performance goals for GHG emissions from national building stocks.
The current Kyoto protocol does not exploit the GHG emissions reduction potential of buildings and only 12 of the 4500 projects in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) pipeline (as of April 2009) seek to reduce energy demand in buildings. The building industry is the largest single industrial employer, representing approximately:
- 10 to 40% of countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP);
- 10% of country-level employment; and
- 74% of employees in developing countries with 90% in companies with less than ten employees.
Measures to improve energy efficiency in buildings lead to direct, indirect, and induced jobs created directly in the real estate and construction industries. Governments gain quality control of building industry transactions by supporting energy efficient and low GHG emissions measures in buildings.
Through the UNEP-SBCI, Public and Private sector Organisations are committed to taking a number of actions to reduce carbon emissions including:
- The creation of a carbon trading mechanism for buildings
- Renovating buildings currently occupied to reduce direct and indirect GHG emissions
- Dedicate research & development resources to achieving carbon zero new buildings
- Working with Government on policy creation and to educate the supply chain
- Making all Public buildings carbon neutral
- Supporting the development of GHG emissions standards
To read the full articles, go to www.unepsbci.org
Excellence Award in Sustainability
13th August 2009
Passivent natural ventilation has helped Swindon Borough Council’s new Central Library to be acknowledged as one of the UK’s top examples of sustainable design.
The £10m redevelopment of the existing library has won the Be-spoke category in the BREEAM Awards, attaining a score of over 72% (Excellent) for its environmental features of which the Passivent natural ventilation was a key element.
Designed by architects Nic Newland and Tony Currivan of Swindon Borough Council’s property services division and built by Willmott Dixon with Roberts & Prowse as Mechanical & Electrical subcontractors, the new four-storey building replaces the previous single storey library on the site adjacent to the Town Hall. The building design makes a major feature of the ventilation system with a series of brick clad service and ventilation ducts encircling the main façade.
Natural ventilation reduces energy consumption over air conditioned buildings by up to 50%, yields 15% savings on capital costs, 75% savings on maintenance costs, and eliminates the need for a separate plant room. Passivent ‘commercial’ natural ventilation systems are proven in real life to be one of the best strategies for attaining up to an A rating under the new Energy Performance Certificate system.
Passivent natural ventilation operates by harnessing principles of physics, in which natural variations in air temperature and pressure cause air movement i.e. warm air rises (convection), and air naturally moves from higher pressure (eg ground level) to lower air pressure areas (eg roof level). As air moves and changes temperature constantly, the Passivent ventilation functions day and night, 365 days a year.
Strategically located Passivent Aircool window inlets draw fresh air from the courtyard into the building without noise from the surrounding roads. Just 23 Passivent Window Aircool units, five Wall Aircool units, eight Aircool internal louvres and roof outlets provide the ventilation for the entire three storey 2000+m2 building. To help maintain a comfortable ambient temperature and air quality throughout the year, Passivent also supplied 10 window actuators to open and close the second and third floor top opening windows. The entire system is managed through Passivent’s multi-zone iC central controller which operates on internal and external temperature and internal CO2 levels.
Ken Coates Associate Director for the project’s building services design consultants NDC 2000, observed, “Apart from the need to obtain an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating, great emphasis was placed in the heating and ventilation systems arranged to afford maximum flexibility of use whilst meeting energy targets.” Tony Currivan project architect, added, “Passivent was chosen by Roberts & Prowse for its ability to deliver a sustainable solution cost-efficiently and on time.”
Energy Assessment of Existing Non-Domestic Buildings
10th August 2009
About 18% of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from energy use in our non-domestic buildings – offices, shops, schools, hospitals etc. Whilst this is a hugely important sector to tackle if the UK is to meet climate change targets, one problem faced is the difficulty of gathering reliable data on energy use and carbon emissions in our existing buildings. In fact, even pin-pointing the exact number of buildings in the UK that fall into this category is quite tough.
The UK-GBC has been campaigning for more and better ‘real data’ on which to base policy and business decisions. Energy Performance Certificates, which are now mandatory, are a good start – but they need time to bed down and should be improved and updated as we learn lessons through their implementation. We believe Display Energy Certificates, again though not perfect, are vital to complement the EPC, by showing the actual energy performance of a building in use. Nothing highlights this better than the Communities and Local Government department’s own building, which scored a C on its EPC, but an F on its DEC.
Keith Hearnshaw at L’atelier has been advocating the use of both EPCs and DECs for all commercial buildings to identify the “poor performers” and develop strategies for existing Landlords and Owners to improve their building stock - “Investment decisions can be made by our Clients on refurbishment plans and property purchases and disposals on the basis of the ratings achieved through EPCs and DECs. In the current economic climate the challenge is to encourage all landlords to work in this way”.
A large number of public and private sector organisations will have to comply with the Carbon Reduction Commitment from 2010, which is aimed at reducing emissions from non-domestic buildings through a form of carbon trading scheme. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is consulting on the details of the policy until 4th June and the department has released guidance.
In our report of March 2009, the UK-GBC argued that a future Code for Sustainable (non-domestic) Buildings should not only cover new buildings, but existing ones as well. This radical proposal has been well received by government and the wider industry and the proposals will dictate a large proportion of our work going forwards. We believe a Code would make it easier for building owners and occupiers to understand regulatory requirements placed upon them, and that financial incentives could be used to encourage higher standards.
British Homeowners taking Green action
30th July 2009
British homeowners are taking action to make their homes greener, research by insulation company Rockwool shows.
A telephone survey of 742 homeowners carried out in February and March this year found that 78% were making environmental improvements to their homes.
Most popular was the installation of energy-saving light bulbs, with 71%t of adults saying they were doing this. Over a quarter (26%) said they were replacing household appliances with more efficient models, 19% were installing more energy-efficient central-heating systems and 18% said they were installing high-grade insulation.
Far less popular were solar panels and wood-burning stoves, with only 2% of respondents saying that they were installing these.
Nearly three-quarters of those taking part in the survey (71%) said that they were concerned about the global environment.
Carbon Capture & Storage
20th July 2009
Energy giant E.On has submitted an entry for European funding in support of its proposed carbon capture and storage development at Kingsnorth, in Kent.
The company has already been short-listed in the UK Government’s competition to demonstrate the capture, transportation and storage of carbon from a large-scale project and now hopes also to secure support from the European Energy Programme for Recovery.
E.On UK’s clean coal business development manager Andy Read said: “CCS is an essential technology for reducing global emissions, and needs to be developed rapidly if the UK, and Europe, is to play its part in the fight against climate change.
“Our vision is for Kingsnorth to act as the gateway to CCS development, and therefore to the de-carbonisation of energy, through the creation of a ‘Thames Cluster’ that could see power stations and industrial sites in the South East of England hooking up to a single carbon pipeline.”
He said a cluster approach would “future proof” the development of CCS by allowing new facilities to connect quickly to a system that would work much like the existing national grids for gas supplies and for electricity transmission.
Commercial Property Market Update
17th July 2009
The commercial property market is showing some encouraging signs of an upturn from the second quarter statistics available from Property Week and CoStar Group. The April to June 2009 period will show transaction values of around £4.5 billion with particular confidence in the London office market due to substantial new investment from foreign buyers. Of particular significance is the fact that June showed more than 50% of the transaction value from the quarter culminating in a ten percent uplift on the first quarter figures.
To put these numbers in perspective, the commercial market peaked in Spring/Summer 07 with average property transactions per quarter at £8 billion, and hit a low in Autumn/Winter 08 at £3 billion per quarter.
Fingers crossed for further improving figures over the next few months.
Government to unveil Renewable Energy Strategy
15th July 2009
The Government will today outline plans for a major expansion in renewable energy, including measures to boost green investment in homes and commercial property.
The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan White Paper will also set out plans for low-carbon transport and for ensuring that the UK benefits from thousands of potential “green jobs”.
Among the schemes to reduce climate emissions will be a programme for homeowners to receive loans to insulate their homes, and incentives to encourage people to also install small-scale renewable systems, such as solar panels or wind turbines.
There are also plans to increase large-scale renewable energy, in particular wind – with proposals for some 4,000 new onshore turbines and a further 3,000 offshore.
The announcement is part of the Government’s strategy to slash the UK’s carbon emissions in the coming decade. The UK has a series of challenging legally-binding ‘carbon budgets’, which require a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 34% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050, and a EU target of meeting 15% of all energy needs from renewables by 2020.
Carbon Reduction Commitment
14th July 2009
The European Commission today authorized a national plan proposed by the United Kingdom that introduces a trading system for emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide related to energy consumption, rather than energy production.
Scheduled to start in April 2010, the national system, called the Carbon Reduction Commitment, applies to non-energy intensive sectors not already covered by climate change agreements and the EU Emissions Trading System. Following the passing of the Climate Change Act in November 2008, the UK is now legally required to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050, and 34 percent by 2020.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment is intended to encourage improvements in energy efficiency which can save organisations money while reducing the risk of climate change. The scheme has been designed to generate a shift in awareness in large organizations especially at the senior level, and to drive changes in behaviour and infrastructure. The plan is a central part of the UK government’s strategy for controlling CO2 emissions. The policy has been developed in partnership by the British Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment is a novel way for inducing changes in companies' behaviour through a set of incentives, including a trading system of CO2 certificates covering emissions triggered by the use of energy, a "name-and-shame-policy" publishing the environmental performance of participants, and financial incentives in the form of additional grants financed through the revenues obtained by auctioning emission permits.
Authorising the Carbon Reduction Commitment today, the European Commission said the distortions of competition resulting from the introduction of the scheme will be limited, because of the relatively small amounts of money involved in the state aid and the low proportion of energy costs in the total operating costs of the benefiting companies.
The system provides a financial incentive to reduce emissions by placing a price on carbon emissions. Participants must purchase allowances equivalent to their emissions each year. The overall emissions reduction target is achieved by means of a cap on the total number of allowances available to the group of participants.
Within that overall limit, individual participants can determine the most cost-effective means to reduce their emissions. The Environment Agency, which has responsibility for implementing the scheme, says it will achieve emissions reductions of at least four million tons of CO2 per year by 2020.
It is estimated that energy efficiency measures encouraged by the new system will benefit participants by an estimated £1 billion by 2020. Revenue raised by auctioning of emissions allowances would be paid back to participants as a subsidy and will include a bonus for the best performers.
In addition to financial incentives, the Carbon Reduction Commitment will provide an incentive for participants to improve their reputations as environmentally conscious companies. Participants will be ranked according to their performance on a Performance League Table and the ranking will be made available for public scrutiny.
This combination of incentives (financial and reputation) are intended to encourage organisations to develop energy management strategies and also generate awareness of emissions at a senior level. As organisations will have to monitor their emissions it will also lead to improved understanding of both energy consumption and opportunities for energy efficiency.
Around 20,000 organisations across the UK may be affected by the scheme. Failure to participate will result in penalties including monetary fines. Organisations with half hourly meters need to determine their electricity use for 2008 based on information provided by their suppliers. If electricity consumption through these meters was greater than 6,000 megawatt hours during 2008, that organisation must prepare to participate in the Carbon Reduction Commitment.
In September 2009, the Environment Agency will contact all UK billing addresses with settled half hourly meters providing them with Qualification Packs. The first compliance year - April 2010 to March 2011 - is what the government calls a "Footprint Year." The first six months of the Footprint Year is also the registration period. Organisations that qualify must register or make an information disclosure by September 30, 2010 or risk a monetary fine.
The first sale of allowances is scheduled for April 2011. Allowances will be sold to participants at a fixed price of £12 per tonne of CO₂. This first sale will be unique, as it will be for both 2010/11 allowances and 2011/12 allowances. All subsequent sales and auctions will only be for allowance for the year ahead. In 2013, auctioning of carbon allowances begins for the first capped phase of the system.
The EU's approval comes one day ahead of the UK Government's scheduled publication of an Energy White Paper and three related strategies for decarbonising the country and delivering its share of the EU Renewable Energy Directive. The Brown Government is acting to reduce the country's vulnerability to climate change that forecasters project will lead to drastic changes in the British Isles.
In June, the UK Climate Projections 2009, based on science provided by the Met Office, showed that in the absence of global action to cut emissions the UK faces warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, increased risk of coastal erosion and more severe weather.
The medium emissions scenario of the UK Climate Projections shows that by the 2080s, the UK could be faced with:
- An increase in average summer temperatures of between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in the South East with a central estimate of 4 degrees
- A 22 percent decrease in average summer rainfall in the South East, which is already water stressed, and an increase of 16 percent in average winter rainfall in the North West, with increases in the amount of rain on the wettest days, leading to a higher risk of flooding
- sea level rise of 36 centimetres (14 inches)
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said, "The threat of heat waves and floods means UK has to act now to adapt to changes that are coming and to stop these getting worse."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said, "Now is the time to act. The UK has set an example to the world through our Climate Change Act, committing to cut UK emissions by a third by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050. We are well placed to achieve this and are determined to seize the economic and job opportunities presented by the shift to low carbon."
Source: Environmental News Service
Commercial EPCs under the spotlight
1st July 2009
An article in the latest edition of Building Sustainable Design magazine suggests that commercial property agents are failing to comply with regulations by not providing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).
Between 27 April and 22 May, EPC accreditation body National Energy Services (NES) contacted 108 agents on the pretext of acting for clients interested in buying or renting a typical high street office or shop. Agents were given until 1 June to respond and 88 of the agents failed to produce an EPC. Almost half of those said the certificate wasn’t necessary or could offer no explanation as to why no EPC was available.
A spokesman for Communities and Local Government (CLG) claimed that of the 2.6 million commercial property sales since the implementation of EPCs, only a small percentage did not have one, suggesting that NES had been “unlucky with some dodgy estate agents” in its sample. He said it was the responsibility of Trading Standards to enforce compliance and was surprised at the disparity between CLG’s figures for sales (rental figures were not available) and the findings of NES.
However the Government's own EPC database, managed by Landmark Information Group, shows that to date, fewer than 100,000 commercial properties have an EPC lodged against them, and less than 30,000 public buildings have a valid Display Energy Certificate (DEC). Here at L'atelier we've had a play with our calculators and something clearly doesn't add up!
Since the implementation of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in January, it is a legal requirement that all commercial buildings being marketed for sale or rent have an EPC available to inform prospective buyers or tenants about the property’s energy performance.
EPCs- A Catalyst for Low Carbon Buildings
15th June 2009
The UK has one of the oldest and least efficient building stocks in Europe, accounting for nearly half of the UK’s carbon emissions. If you overlay this statistic with the new Government target to reduce CO² emissions by 80% by 2050, it is clear that direct action must be taken to reduce the emissions from buildings. This article focuses on commercial buildings, which are a clear target for such action and new measures have been recently introduced which target new buildings and for the first time, the stock of existing buildings.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) came into force on the 1st of October 2008 under the European Union Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002, and are a legal requirement for almost all commercial buildings when they are completed, modified, sold or leased. EPCs are intended to act as a catalyst for improving the performance of a building as they must be provided in the sales literature for the property. Potential tenants can then make a value judgment on a building based on the Certificate, putting pressure on owners and landlords to manage performance improvements in their properties before putting them on the market.
What is an EPC and what does it show?
The EPC shows the energy efficiency of a building as an Asset Rating in bands from a more efficient ‘A’ rating to a less efficient ‘G’ rating and also gives a numerical indicator of energy performance for each building based on its standardised use.
When do I need an EPC?
An EPC is required on the construction, modification, sale or lease of a commercial property that is greater than 50m². There are some specific exceptions that are detailed in the Government’s guidance documentation.
What is involved in producing an EPC?
Producing an EPC for a commercial or ‘non-domestic’ building is a rigorous process which requires the creation of a software model, from which its energy performance can be derived. Data for the building is captured from a site inspection as well as from drawings, specifications and manuals. A zone matrix is then created for each floor which takes account of zone activity, heating, cooling, lighting & ventilation. This, together with the shape and size of each zone and floor are entered into the software model, together with details of the construction fabric of the building. The energy model is generated using SBEM – the Simplified Building Energy Model which is a tool approved by the Government for this purpose. SBEM produces the EPC & rating for the building as well as a standard recommendation report on how the building rating could be improved.
“EPCs determine how efficient a property is and provide an Asset Rating that owners and occupiers can use to manage performance improvements”, explains Richard Nussey of L’atelier. ”Clients are already installing more energy efficient lighting, better insulation and modern boiler systems that improve their building efficiencies and therefore their Asset Ratings. Our customised client reports show specific improvements in terms of expenditure per kilogram of CO² saved and their expected payback. Better published ratings translate into higher perceived value for tenants and owners in a market which is ever more conscious and selective over environmental issues. Better ratings will also translate into shorter void periods and higher rental income or sale prices from Clients so there is really no downside in the medium term.
The next stage is to implement low and zero carbon technologies to take the building stock to another level of sustainability and, with fuel costs rising, the viability of these improvements can only become easier to justify in financial terms”.
What are the penalties for not having a Commercial EPC?
Fines for the failure to produce an EPC can be anything from £500 to £5,000 depending on the property’s rateable value and a commercial EPC will still be required before you can lawfully complete the sale or lease of your property.
Where do I get a Commercial EPC?
An EPC must be produced and lodged on to the central database by an Energy Assessor who is a member of a Government approved accreditation scheme. Call us for a free quote today.
What is a Recommendation Report?
A Recommendation Report is produced as part of the EPC process and is a computer generated document listing potential changes that, if made to the property, could improve the asset rating, based on the data input during the EPC modelling process. An Energy Assessor can provide advice and guidance on how best to improve asset ratings, following an assessment of the property.
Why do you need an EPC?
With an EPC, the potential buyers or tenants will be able to get an impartial report of the energy use and the likely costs of the existing building. This makes it easier to compare the likely energy costs of occupying seemingly similar buildings. A commercial EPC will also allow sellers and landlords to gain an insight into the areas where energy performance and efficiency could be improved within their property.
If you have any questions about Commercial EPCs or any of the other services L'atelier offer, please contact us.
UK to miss Carbon Targets in the Building Sector by 1 Billion Tonnes by 2030
1st June 2009
Energy Efficiency industries are coming together on an invitation from the Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, Lord Rupert Redesdale. They will be presenting information to highlight the need for much stronger policy in order to achieve the government’s Climate Change targets. The meeting called The Domestic Carbon Time bomb is taking place on Monday 29th June at 2.00pm in the Committee Room 14, House of Commons.
Carbon from the built environment is responsible for approximately a third of carbon emitted in Britain. Programmes to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings must be fast tracked if government wants to achieve the low carbon economic recovery it claims to support. The industries are also driving for the better use of the EPCs to help achieve more improvement to homes. Measures such as making it impossible to rent a house or flat that are not as energy efficient as they could be, indicated by the energy performance certificate, and should be introduced as a matter of urgency in both the business and private sector.
The group will also argue that a holistic approach to the refurbishment of the housing stock needs to be introduced as quickly as possible. As each year passes and the policies do not get off the ground then this will add millions of tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere and increase the rate of climate change.
It is a frightening fact that by 2030 the amount of carbon that needs to be saved will certainly not happen under the current system. Lord Redesdale said: “A billion tonnes will have failed to be saved from domestic carbon emissions and this is equivalent to the CO2 pollution from Britain’s aviation sector over the next twenty five years. We can either heat our homes and have hot baths, or fly but not both. There really does need to be much tougher policies on reducing carbon emissions from the homes.”
Each of the energy efficiency industries will present actions that need to be taken and a website www.G2Action.org will be launched at the meeting.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) promote the implementation of energy improvements
1st May 2009
A growing number of property professionals realise that Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are more than just an inconvenient legal requirement, according to new research. Many now recognise that the process of preparing the certificate is an opportunity to make beneficial improvements to their building services and overall energy consumption.
A survey carried out by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) shows that, while most property managers still look for the cheapest possible route to legal compliance, an increasing number are now “asking for full surveys with the intention of implementing some or all of the accompanying recommendations”. Almost 30% of clients questioned said they commissioned detailed surveys from their Non-Domestic Energy Assessors (NDEAs), 25% asked for outline costings of the recommendations and 22% said they would go on to ask for implementation of recommendations.
Richard Nussey, a Stroma accredited Level 3 and 4 Energy Assessor and Technical Director of L’atelier Ltd, explained: “At this point in the implementation of EPCs for commercial property it is encouraging that more than 22 per cent of property professionals have progressed with EPC and DEC improvement measures. I would say that it is an extremely positive indication of future energy and environmental improvements to property portfolios for large and small building owners alike. As we see an upturn in the economic outlook I would hope to see a higher percentage of improvements across the board as the Government are likely to implement penalties for poorly performing buildings and/or rewards for the higher performing properties. The current emphasis has understandably been purely on compliance and I believe there will be a gradual increase in focus on the ratings and grades achieved and the best ways to improve these. You have to measure accurately before you can manage effectively.”
In the CIBSE survey when questioned on the importance of Energy Certificates, over 50 per cent of property professionals rated them as ‘very’ important, while almost 40 per cent of Energy Assessors said that 50-75 per cent of their clients were aware of commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). However, the survey did show that 82 per cent of clients questioned still only commission a standard certificate and 31 per cent of Energy Assessors feel that at least 75 per cent of their clients are only interested in getting the lowest possible cost for a certificate without other considerations.
Jacqueline Balian, Managing Director of CIBSE Services, added: “The most valuable element of an energy performance certificate is the recommendations report. And it is the only way we have any hope of really reducing actual carbon emissions from buildings. CIBSE is therefore calling upon the Government to make implementation of the highest impact recommendations a requirement for any building which receives an F or G grade.”
The surveys also revealed that the gathering of accurate energy data is a major issue for both sides - 44% of clients said that collating the required information was the most difficult part of getting the certificate produced, while Energy Assessors rated obtaining correct energy data as one of the biggest challenges to producing both EPCs and DECs.
There is also a tremendous amount of confusion about how much it costs to get an EPC. When asked what they initially expected the certificate to cost, client responses ranged from £50 to £10,000. Equally, in answer to the question ‘What is the average cost for producing an EPC for a client’, the answers from the Energy Assessor varied massively as shown below:
- Small buildings (under 2,500m2): £300-£5,000
- Medium buildings (2,500-10,000m2): £750-£10,000
- Large buildings (over 10,000m2): £900-£10,000.
In terms of timings, 36% of property professionals said the process of hiring an assessor to produce the certificate took 2-4 weeks, 30% said 1-2 weeks, 27 per cent said over a month and 7% said less than a week.
And what advice would Energy Assessors give to potential clients to make the process run as smoothly as possible? Top of the list was to start collecting all energy data, floor plans and building information as far in advance as possible and to clarify just what they would like to get out of the process.