What if you could change your decades-old house into a modern, comfortable, energy-efficient home in less than ten days without having to move out or pay extra? Does it sound too good to be true? That’s exactly what a consortium of construction companies and social housing corporations are doing in the Netherlands. The ambitious program that could drastically cut Dutch residential energy consumption is called the Rapids (de Stroomversnelling in Dutch). Its aim is to collaboratively develop an industrial approach to net-zero retrofitting of the Dutch housing stock, while retrofitting 111,000 social houses by 2020. Social houses are owned by social housing corporations, which rent at least 90 percent of their housing stock to people with a relatively low income. The Rapids focuses primarily on typical Dutch terraced houses that were built in large quantities from the 1950s until the 1970s, making them a significant part of the Dutch housing stock.
Glasgow begins switch to LED street lights after agreeing a £6.3m loan with Green Investment Bank to swap first 10,000 lamps to energy-efficient LEDs. The LED lights last about seven times longer than standard bulbs and are expected to use half the energy of the old versions, paying for themselves through energy savings while saving more than 18,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 18 years. The finance package the GIB provided to Glasgow has been designed to finance public sector energy-efficiency projects. In agreeing the deal with Glasgow, GIB has standardised the process so other local authorities can use it to convert their street lighting, lowering the upfront cost. According to the GIB, more than 100 councils have expressed interest in LEDs, but currently fewer than 10 per cent of the UK’s 7.4 million street lamps are fitted with the technology. It says a nationwide switch to LEDs could cut the £300m a year councils currently spend to switch on street lights and prevent up to 475,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking more than 200,000 cars off the road.
As the cost of electricity is set to double over the next ten years, an easy-to-use toolkit has been launched to give Scotland’s local authorities real-time information on how many millions they would save by phasing in energy efficient LED street lights. Across Scotland, there are nearly 900,000 street lights costing local authorities £41 million in annual electricity charges. The street lights also impact on the environment by releasing 199,091 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. Developed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and supported by the Scottish Government through its Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) programme, the toolkit allows councils to input their current street lighting data which in turn calculates what the reduced electricity usage would be if they changed to new, energy-efficient LED lighting. The toolkit also calculates what level of investment is required by the council to replace its old lights with new LED fittings, and the payback period of the loan. With councils under constant pressure to make the best use of limited budgets, SFT is encouraging them to use the toolkit which has demonstrated in trials that the average council can save between 60-70% of their present electricity costs, whilst also benefitting the environment.
With over 7 million households lacking solid wall insulation, 6 million lacking cavity wall insulation and over 7 million having inadequate loft insulation, Neil Marshall, Chief Executive of the NIA is today calling on all party leaders to make energy efficiency retrofit of the nation’s housing stock a national infrastructure priority supported by additional funding from the Government Infrastructure budget and to pledge to provide support to 6 million low income households by 2025.
Friends of the Earth Scotland today launches a new film documenting some of the best examples of community owned and operated renewables from across Scotland. Friends of the Earth Scotland community power campaigner Anne Schiffer said “Community groups across Scotland are leading the way in moving from dirty fossil fuels to harnessing our vast renewable energy potential. This film shows how ordinary people have made this journey, celebrates local success stories and will hopefully inspire others to start their own project.” It has also launched a report: From remote island grids to urban solar co-ops
Meanwhile, Bibi van der Zee explores the growing community of energy groups to find out how they are changing the way we think about our energy system and our relationship with it.Carbon Co-op in Manchester,Green Prosperity in Hull and Repowering London are three examples of this community energy revolution.
Labour’s Caroline Flint has today declared “war on cold homes”, as she unveiled the opposition’s new strategy for improving the energy efficiency of five million homes over the next 10 years. Delivering her keynote speech to the Labour Party conference this morning, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary confirmed heavily trailed plans for a new five-point strategy designed to tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions by saving energy in the home. The National Insulation Association said “believe that there is scope to go further, faster. Additional funding would enable the 6 million low income households to be treated more quickly and this could be forthcoming from the National Infrastructure Fund.”
The City of Edinburgh Council is embarking on an energy retrofit programme for its buildings. It will become the first Council in Scotland to sign up to the RE:FIT programme. This award-winning energy retrofit scheme has been designed to help public sector organisations achieve substantial financial savings, improve the energy performance of their buildings and reduce their carbon footprint.
A solar-powered house in Leicestershire is performing better than expected, according to an interim report into the effectiveness of its energy system. The Solar House was built in Great Glen, Leicestershire, last year by a consortium led by Caplin Homes, and it is said to the UK’s first newbuild home to be fully powered by solar energy. It is said to use a unique combination of new and existing technologies to meet its full annual heating, hot water and lighting requirements. The project is intended to demonstrate that zero carbon house building is both practical and financially viable.
Passivhaus is known as the world’s leading energy efficiency standard for buildings. It drives building energy consumption down as much as 90%. This means paying very close attention to how a building is designed, detailed and constructed to ensure energy is used efficiently and not wasted. It means undertaking very detailed energy and performance modeling during the design process. This can all seem a bit complicated and geeky, so why not leave it to the geeks who love this kind of thing? And only Treehuggers are so into saving energy aren’t they? Actually, no. Here are three reasons why you should care about Passivhaus: Climate Change, EU legislation, and because you can make a difference.
The declining popularity of the traditional washing line is costing British families at least £120m a year, as tumble dryers are routinely used throughout warm summer months. More than half of all households who own a tumble dryer use it at least once a week during the summer, according to the Energy Saving Trust. The organisation, a charitable foundation which offers advice on cutting energy bills, said that a typical household could save £18 from their annual electricity bills “by line drying clothes instead of tumble drying” during June, July and August.