Friday, 2 November 2012

Green Roof Tops could become the next green innovation for Smart Cities of the future.

Photograph By Diane Cooke and Len Jenshel
I recently came across a fantastic idea that apparently has been around for some time. Jean O'Dwyer on her popular Facebook page called The Earth Story explains the concept far better than I could possibly hope to: 

The concept of the green roof is not a new phenomenon; with its basic functionality being utilised for several centuries. A green roof (also known as an eco-roof, nature roof, living roof or roof greening system) is a living, vegetative system that contains a substrate (growing media) and a vegetation layer at its outermost surface. Green roof systems can be used as a way of compensating for the increase of impervious surfaces, providing a visual and recreational escape from the ‘concrete jungles’ of urban landscapes.

One of the most attractive qualities of green roofs is that they wholly encompass the idea of sustainability. Sustainability can be broadly defined as an attempt to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural world both now and into the indefinite future. It relates to the continuity of economic, social and environmental aspects of human society, as well as the non-human environment.

Green roofs offer advantages socially, economically and environmentally which are all necessary to fully achieve any step towards sustainable development.

Environmental Benefits: 
  • Storm-water management   -  Retrofitting a green roof system on a pre-existing rooftop can become an onsite water retention facility. Depending on the rain intensity and the soil depths runoff can be reduced by 15 to 90 %.
  • Reduction of the urban heat Island effect -  Concrete and asphalt structures absorb the ultraviolet radiation from the sun during the day. At night however, this radiation is released as thermal infrared radiation which creates a dome of higher temperatures over cities. Because green roofs store water in the growing media and plants, latent heat loss is accomplished via transpiration from plants and evaporation of moisture from the growing medium collectively referred to as evapo-transpiration.
  • Reduction of air pollution -  Plants can reduce the concentration of airborne pollutants in a number of ways. The leaves of the plant fix particulates, and then when it rains the particulates are washed down into the soil substrate where they become trapped in the soil substrate or growing medium. Through plant photosynthesis and respiration air containing carbon dioxide and toxins is absorbed through the stomata and transformed into glucose and water. Airborne particulates become trapped on the plant foliage until it rains. The particulates are then washed into the soil substrate and become entrained in the substrate mix preventing the dusts being dispersed downwind.
  • Promotes Biodiversity - Green roof offer habitat patches in areas which otherwise would be void of ecosystem services. Even in densely populated areas green roofs can attract a range of beneficial species of birds, bee’s, butterflies and other insects. The fact that the habitats are created at a height is actually beneficial, particularly to species that do not interact with human beings. By creating new habitats for plants and animals valuable ecosystem services can be reinstated into urban areas.
Economic Benefits:
  • Prolonging the existing roofs life - The average life span of a conventional roof is only 20 years attributed to damage and stress from cooling, heating and exposure. If a green roof system is incorporated into design the temperatures do not get too high due to evaporative cooling and frost damage to the roof structure is avoided as the soil takes the worst of it. It is estimated that the installation of a green roof can double or even triple the life span of a roof, hence reducing maintenance costs significantly for a small by comparison initial investment.
  • Reduction in Energy Costs - Accredited to the natural thermal insulating properties of vegetative cover green roofs discourage heat build-up. This results in a decreased need for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. It is estimated that a one story building can save anywhere between 20 and 30% of electrical energy requirements with the addition of a green roof. 
Social Benefits:
  • Green roofs can help to visually ease the stress created by a lack of green space in urban communities. By intertwining culture and nature, we can actively design to regenerate human and ecological health. 
As a whole, the need to divorce our relationship with consumerism and resource use is of utmost importance and the relationship between humanity and nature must be rekindled. Green roofs are not only a tool towards environmental sustainability, but can act as a visual reminder of the importance of nature in our lives!

Jean O'Dwyer, The Earth Story

Well there we have it and what an amazing and innovative development to aid energy efficiency in the world's built environment and hopefully, something that will catch on and become a major contributor in the energy efficient mix for sustainable Smart City developments of the future.

    Monday, 15 October 2012

    Some UK Schools Still Have ‘F’ and ‘G’ EPC Certificate Ratings

    Some UK schools still have Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grades of ‘F’ and ‘G’ even though the April 2018 deadline for buildings to be legal is set at an energy certificate rating of ‘E’ or above.
    A look through a few public display certificates for schools across a variety of regions in the UK, has revealed that many are in dire need of energy efficiency improvements. The fact that most of these schools are still using oil burners to heat their property and suffer from bad insulation, is arguably the key as to why they have such poor grades, even down to an appalling ‘G’, the lowest grade possible.

    In relation to heat waste, insulation is a key feature that must be upgraded to appropriate standards before anything else is considered. The amount of money and heat lost through bad insulation, especially in such a large building can equate to thousands of pounds wasted each year.

    Considering money is scarce in the education system surely investment in loft and wall insulation would be an economically viable proposition both to lower the schools carbon emissions and save much needed money, that can be put back into where it counts i.e. education.

    From the point of view of heat source, replacing the old oil powered boiler with an alternative heat source such as a biomass boiler, for example, would be an extremely economic, energy efficient and viable option. Oil has risen in price by 160% in the past five years i.e. five years ago oil was 25p per litre – today it is approaching 65p.

    A wood-fuelled boiler can offer a very simple and cost-effective means to heat buildings whilst realising significantly large savings in carbon emissions. Replacing a fossil fuel burner with wood fuel will typically reduce the overall carbon emissions by over 90%, with the assumption that the wood supply is managed sustainably. There will also be an approximate reduction of around 40% in energy bills from day one of making the change, on top of the huge savings to the environment in emissions.

    The heating of public buildings represents a significant opportunity for savings in carbon emissions. Wood fired heating such as the above can be used widely for public buildings with heating requirements of 30kW and above, as well as on a domestic scale. Currently Sheffield City council can proudly boast having the largest district heating scheme for public buildings in the country and they are looking closely at biomass, amongst other renewable heat sources, to further lower their emissions and save on public expenditure.

    There are even companies out there at the moment that will supply, install, repair and maintain a wood pellet biomass boiler free of charge, usually taking their cut via the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI) and passing all the cost and energy saving benefits to the customer.

    So there is no excuse for public buildings, especially schools to be having such terribly low EPC ratings. As of April 2018, it will be illegal to sell or rent any building that has an EPC certificate rating of ‘F’ or below so surely public buildings must follow suit along with the domestic and commercial sector.

    Wales is home to the UK’s first completely energy efficient school, fully powered and heated by renewable energy sources and fitted with energy efficient modifications, having achieved an A++ EPC rating, so it just goes to show how unacceptable it is that a school in the UK should not achieve at least a ‘D’ rating on its EPC report card.

    Appropriate insulation and the use of wood-pellet burners can all be initially installed for practically free, so it’s time the government re-educated their heads of school about the cost-saving and energy saving benefits of becoming energy efficient. On a final note, would it not be good to set an example to the children in the schools about being energy efficient and protecting their environment, by way of at least allowing them to learn in a low carbon, low waste, cost-effective environment?

    Friday, 12 October 2012

    How Energy Efficient Are We Really As A Nation?

    Today all the talk is about energy efficiency, climate change and reducing carbon emissions. How energy efficient are we really as a population?

    Studies made by the DECC have shown in surveys that the majority of Brits are still unconcerned, unaware of or simply ill-informed about the dangers of climate change, dwindling fuel resources and why it is important and what it means, to be energy efficient.
    The majority of kids today, for example, are more interested in the new I – Phone 5, the latestCall Of Duty XBox game or who’s going to win the prestigious X-Factor, to possibly have time for all this reality. That, while a sad fact of life and consumer culture, can perhaps be forgiven, as they are kids. Being a responsible adult however, it is surely important to educate oneself on such pressing global matters and at least be aware of the immediacy of the situation and the ways in which we, as a people,can help to make progressive change towards a common goal of sustainable and community orientated, energy efficient living.
    The environmental movement in the UK has seen many changes throughout the decades and now people that were once called tree huggers or referred to as eccentric, for their crazy ideas about living sustainably in a community minded, organic manner, are now the educators of those that ten years ago, would have dismissed them as a bit out to lunch, as it were..
    In the UK there has never been so much marketing and publicity centred around environmental issues as there is today and therefore, it seems crazy that there are still many people who are unconcerned, unaware, ill educated or simply don’t have the time to be bothered about such issues. While the government are notorious for spin, the problems we face today regarding our environment are real and whatever the political motivation for measures the government are now taking, we must, as a nation think of the future of our children and their children and work towards living in a sustainable and interconnected manner.
    If you are are a parent, set your kids a good example and try to educate yourself so you can educate them on the importance of conserving energy and being energy efficient. Learn about your carbon foot print and gain an understanding of carbon emissions, what they are and how they affect the planet.
    Learn about renewable energy, as it will become the energy of the future and the more you know, the better equipped you will be when the technology becomes common place, as it is now on it’s way to doing.
    Perhaps the easiest thing to learn is how to become energy efficient in your home and work life. Not only does it benefit the environment but it also benefits your pocket. Is your home or commercial property energy efficient? Have you considered the environmental and financial savings you could begin to make straight away, with a few simple energy efficient changes to your home or business?
    The best way to find out how energy efficient your property is, for example, would be to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) issued for the building. This explains how high or low the carbon emissions of your building are and shows how much money you could be saving, by making energy efficient implementations to your property. These could be loft or wall insulation, which many companies are offering free, LED lighting, Solar PV, an upgraded boiler/central heating system and so on.
    Armed with this knowledge, you can not only help the environment by living more sustainably but you will see more money in your pocket by way of lower energy bills. This could be less heat escaping from your house because of better insulation, thus lowering your emissions and saving you money or light bulbs that only need to be replaced once every ten years.
    So if we strive to educate ourselves about climate change, living sustainably by way of being energy efficient and environmentally friendly, we set a great example to our children and save money along the way, while being part of a growing community of like minded well informed individuals. The more educated you become about the various types of renewable, the more you understand about what is the best clean technology for you to use in your home or work place to maximise on efficiency and savings.
    While it might seem to some that people are simply jumping on the green bandwagon, the facts are still real and they are not going to go away. We have to work together sustainably, both in our home lives and our work lives and do it not just for us but for our children and their children to come. And if we can save some money along the way, then what is there really to lose?

    Thursday, 27 September 2012

    Water, Water Everywhere But Is It safe To Drink?

    I woke up this morning, sat up in bed and switched on my TV to be greeted by a news story about the number of people that die each day because they do not have access to clean drinking water. 

    I thought to myself, “what century are we living in?”  

    Is it not about time, on a global level, that everyone should pull together to ensure that this fundamental resource is available to every human being on the planet? 

    Two minutes of research identified that, according to the united Nations, 884 million people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. This is roughly one in ten of the world's population. Furthermore, over 2.6 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation systems.

    On average 2,000 children die a day from being denied this basic human right and nescessity of clean and safe drinking water!   

    I know Water Aid have done an enormous amount of work and a quick look on their website revealed that for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity, not to mention the millions of lives it saves.

    Scientists have recently discovered the Higgs boson, is it not about time that the great minds of this world create a widget/device/system that is cheap and simple to solve this problem. 

    I’m not a scientist and I don’t know how to invent such a widget/device/system, so come on clean technologists, there must be something or someone out there that is working on a solution. 

    Please send in links, feeds, stories or anything you can about research and/or technology looking into a solution. This situation has to be addressed now, as a matter of urgency and the public must be made aware of this atrocious and unconscionable situation. 

    Rant over.                                                                      


    Tuesday, 28 August 2012

    New Self Charging Battery That Generates And Stores Energy

    Renewable energy technologies generally consist of two distinct processes: energy generation (using sources such as coal, solar, wind, etc.) and energy storage (such as batteries). These two processes are always accomplished through two separate units, with the first process converting the original form of energy to electricity, and the second process converting electricity to chemical energy. Now for the first time, engineers have demonstrated that energy can be generated and stored in a single device that converts mechanical energy directly to chemical energy, bypassing the intermediate step of electricity generation. The device basically acts as a hybrid generator-battery unit, or in other words, a self-charging power cell.

    Read more at:

    Friday, 24 August 2012

    The New Era Of Energy Efficient Technology

    Energy Efficient Technology on the rise as sustainable growth picks up momentum

    Spending all my days on the net writing about energy efficiency and renewable technologies, I am constantly amazed at the amount of passion and energy that is put into this industry. New technologies are emerging daily and governments are creating more and more legislation to make sure that sustainable growth is here to stay.

    While our own government is in internal conflict with the Treasury and George Osborne, about expenditure into renewable technologies, it has not stopped the rest of the industry from soldiering on in the face of adversity. We are now in a time when sustainability is paramount, as the old ways of generating energy are becoming redundant, as research has shown time and time again, that they are no longer ecologically or economically viable.

    Our resources are running lower by the day and no matter what the politicians would have you believe, we are in the midst of not just an economic crisis but an ecological one of giant proportions. Climate change is not going to go away and the best we can hope to do is to try and slow it down. Renewable technologies are the way forward and while there are many people who dispute this, the facts speak for themselves.

    In the UK, energy efficiency has really taken off and with news that we are number one in the global energy efficiency league table, we should give ourselves a well deserved pat on the back. However, this does not mean that we can afford to be complacent, as there is still a tremendous amount of work to do before we can even think of slowing down the pace.

    Renewable technologies are advancing every day and new and innovative designs and systems are appearing on the market at a rapid rate. Only the other day there was an article in the press that covered new solar thin-film technology, that can be stuck to windows and doors and is 70% transparent to the human eye. The technology utilises infra red rays that humans cannot see, to create electricity and it has a higher output than traditional solar panels. This technology will revolutionise the solar market and while solar panels will still continue to be used, thin film solar cells will undoubtedly become the norm as the price drops and more people see the benefits.

    As the technology is changing at such a rapid rate, it begs the question as to whether anything will stay on the market long enough before it is overtaken by something more advanced, compact, powerful, faster, sleeker and stronger.

    A great invention to be released next month from Ireland is the latest energy efficient Iameco laptop tablet that is 80% recyclable and has an extremely low carbon footprint. My favourite part of the tablet is the fact that it has a wooden casing that is made from sustainably sourced off-cuts from factories. Wood you believe it?! (groan)

    Vertical axis wind turbines are another little known advancement on wind technology, that destroy the usual complaints associated with normal turbines. The latest version of the McCamley MT101 MK2 turbine makes very little noise, is clearly visible to animals so they do not get caught in them, can be erected in urban areas owing to it's size and it is self starting, requiring very little maintenance, a huge cost for normal turbines. Furthermore, It has no cut-out speed and can continue to operate in storm winds. It will allow residential blocks and urbanised areas access to clean energy. This should put the 'wind' up George Osborne as he battles to install gas plants and nuclear stations all over our country. Who is he really working for I wonder?

    Developments for commercial energy efficiency are always cropping up on the market and with the Commercial EPC ( Energy Performance Certificate ) now being a compulsory standard in the commercial property sector, energy efficient building design and practice have become paramount. The UK's building stock accounts for almost half of our total carbon emissions, so energy efficient re-fits are now essential to help commercial properties reach carbon neutral emissions targets.

    The same can be said for the domestic property market, as landlords have been taking advantage of government grants to re-fit their properties. As with commercial properties, the Landlord EPC is now also compulsory in order to market a property for sale or rent and the attached sheet of recommendations, drawn up by the energy assessor, on how to raise the energy efficiency rating of a property, has provided invaluable information. Cavity-wall and loft insulation, upgraded central heating systems, Solar PV installations and underground heat pumps are just some of the upgrades that landlords are implementing in their re-fits and tenants have reported greater comfort and significant reductions in their fuel bills, as a result.

    So the tide of energy efficiency, backed up by innovations in renewable technology and government legislation continues to grow as we move into a new, sustainable future. The moves we make now are crucial to our survival as a race, yet there are those out there who would still hang on to outdated ideas and selfish ambitions, in their attempts to control the world's energy resources for their own, hollow ends. With that in mind it is important to keep raising awareness through any means available, about the benefits of renewable technology and sustainable growth and warn against the dangers of staying as we were and destroying the fabric of our environment.

    Article written for Just EPC by Paul Patane

    Thursday, 23 August 2012

    Solar Powered Windows And Doors With New Transparent Thin Film Solar Cells.

    Researchers from the UCLA have developed a new transparent thin film solar cell that is a move towards enabling windows in homes and other properties to generate electricity while people can still see outside.

    The UCLA team describe a new type of polymer solar cell (PSC) that can produce energy by absorbing mainly infra red light, making cells almost 70% transparent to the human eye. The device has been designed using a photoactive plastic that actually converts the infrared light into an electric current. Imagine this being applied to a huge skyscraper. The electricity generated would be considerable!

    I remember writing about this new technology last year when it was in it's infancy and it is great to see it becoming a reality.

    Check out the full story at ScienceBlog

    Wednesday, 22 August 2012

    Giant European Super-Grid To Be Built Under North Sea

    A giant super-grid designed to address the ever changing nature of renewable power generation, is to undergo construction under the North Sea.
    Nine European countries have agreed to participate in the construction of this gigantic power grid of high-voltage cables, in a move towards reaching the European Union’s goal of attaining a 20% share of energy from renewable resources by 2020. 
    The project’s main aim is to reduce waste, lower energy prices, secure energy supply, increase energy efficiency and ultimately this will all contribute towards boosting the economies of the nations involved, including Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Luxembourg. 
    Approximately 100 GW of offshore wind power is planned by EU power organisations. The UK has already launched a £100 billion programme to energise our own offshore wind farms which we can proudly boast as the world’s largest at approximately 1 GW which is predicted to grow to an encouraging 40 GW by 2020. 
    Estimated to have had a financial expenditure of around £30 billion the project is set to be up and running by 2023. These super-grids will significantly enhance the energy performance of wind generated power and ensure any surplus energy is stored and used to maximise energy efficiency. The idea behind them is to transport large amounts of energy to balance any electricity inefficiency between regions in Europe and furthermore, be used to transport electricity not just from wind farms but also solar large solar arrays. 
    This is a very interesting project as it will essentially end power shortages and blackouts in the EU. If one country goes down, power is transported form elsewhere to bridge the gap. This will hopefully pave the way to a new era of community energy and sustainable growth. It will make the use of wind and solar more energy efficient with a means of energy storage and transportation that we have needed for some time. 
    Post by Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Friday, 17 August 2012

    Irish Invent Wooden Computer To Be Launched Next Month In Europe!

    MicroPlus announce the launch of the new Iameco Ecolabel certified tablet PC. 

    In September, the Iameco tablet PC, pronounced "I am eco", will be launched onto the European market. It is the first touch screen computer to gain the European Union's Ecolabel certificate. 

    Created by Irish MicroPro, who will also be unveiling a laptop version of the Green PC, the new Iameco has the following list of impressive energy efficient design specifications:-

    • A carbon footprint 70 per cent smaller than a conventional desktop computer and monitor
    • 20 per cent of it's materials can easily be re-used in other computers
    • 78 per cent of it's components can be recycled
    • The PC casing is made from wood!
    Ecolabel criteria dictates that a product cannot contain 30 grams of one polymer, so the Micro Plus buys offcuts of timber that are sustainably sourced from European furniture makers, which are then transported back to the factory in Galway, Ireland, to build the computer casing with. How cool is that?

    Individual components can also be easily upgraded, giving the tablet an estimated lifespan of 10 years, a considerable increase on the three to five year lifespan of most modern computers. Furthermore, the machine's standard components i.e. memory cards and processors etc., are mostly halogen-free containing no lead, mercury, PVC, plastic or flame retardants.

    Already on sale in Ireland, the Iameco will be launched throughout Europe during the ELECTRONICS Goes Green conference in Berlin this September. Priced from €850 plus VAT, with an additional software cost of €100, it may take some time before it becomes affordable to the average consumer but will undoubtedly become less expensive over time, if demand increases significantly enough.

    A business that replaced all it's old PC's with these new Green PC's would ultimately improve it's overall energy efficiency and lower it's carbon footprint. I think consumers who can afford the Iameco will want to buy it purely because, with it's buffed and shiny wooden casing, it looks so cool! A hybrid PC that is at once organic and synthetic. If PC's were given EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ratings then this one would definitely be awarded an 'A' + for it's compact, energy efficient design and overall low carbon impact. Let's face it, only the Irish could invent a wooden computer!

    Post By Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Monday, 13 August 2012

    Landlords Make The Switch To Energy Efficiency

    More Landlords are warming to energy efficiency as the wheels of sustainability continue to turn.

    European Building directives now state that by 2016 all properties new or old must be carbon neutral in order to be sold, rented or put up for market. While the Energy Performance Certificate has been around since 2007, many Landlords have not really taken on board the necessity for a low carbon property and hitherto, seen it as more of an inconvenience and costly exercise to have an energy efficient re-fit of a property.

    However, times are changing rapidly and now landlords, like many homeowners, are seeing the benefits of sustainable energy practices and energy efficient design in their properties. New research indicates that more and more landlords are now carrying out green home improvements.

    The National Landlords Association (NLA) found that 51% of property owners in the buy to let market have undertaken energy efficient upgrades to two of their properties, with a further 12% making changes to five or more.

    Landlords are very sensibly taking advantage of government grants such as Warm Front, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and Community energy Saving Programme (CERP) before they are stopped on 31 st December this year. Warm Front offers heating and insulation measures for people who own their own home or are private renters on income support or disability allowance.

    CERT offers free or minimal cost energy efficiency upgrades such as loft or cavity wall insulation from some of Britain’s largest energy companies. All properties can potentially be helped under this scheme, although priority is given to the elderly or those on low incomes.

    The Green Deal, set to launch on the residential market in October, will be the new initiative that replaces these schemes, offering energy efficiency improvements to homeowners by way of a loan that is repayable via their energy bills.

    All rented properties must now have an accompanying Landlord EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) that details exactly how energy efficient a property is, after a survey carried out by a registered energy assessor. An EPC rating between 'A' to 'G' is then given in accordance with the findings. A sheet of attached recommendations accompanies the certificate and details ways in which money and energy can be saved, via the implementation of energy efficient equipment such as as LED light bulbs, an upgraded boiler, loft insulation and solar pv technology, to name but a few.

    It makes sense for landlords to really make the effort in improving their properties on the basis of these results, as it will ultimately make their tenants happier owing to increased comfort and reduced energy bills as well as improving the market value of the property. More and more renters today are looking to move somewhere that is energy efficient and cost effective so a property with a higher EPC grade will be ultimately more attractive, than it's counterpart with an unhealthily low grade.

    Post For Just EPC by Paul Patane

    Friday, 10 August 2012

    No More CO2 'Leeks' As New Welsh Homes Set To Go Green

    John Griffiths, the Environment Minister, has just launched a consultation on tougher building regulations, aimed at improving the energy efficiency levels of new homes in Wales.

    The projections for the impact the regulations will have, show a 40% reduction on 2010 levels of carbon emissions in new homes from January 2015 or a 25% reduction from 2014.

    In the UK, new build homes are significantly more energy efficient in comparison to older properties. As new homes feature energy efficiency measures like better insulation, lower voltage lighting, A-rated appliances and renewable technologies such as solar and underground heat pumps, they are in effect more environmentally sustainable and economic to maintain and run.

    The annual home savings, according to the NHBC Foundation and Zero Carbon Hub, certainly mount up in a new build home, the average saving being around 55% on gas and electricity, which equates to over £1,300, with today’s current market prices.

    Most new builds these days are built to at least Code Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. All builds are now required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before being able to go on the market, which allocates a rating on a scale of 'A' for the most efficient and cost-effective to 'G' the worst offending. This shows the new owner how energy efficient the property is and also has suggestions on ways to improve the rating via the implementation of various energy efficient strategies and technologies. This now applies to commercial as well as domestic property.

    It looks like sustainability is the new watch word on the property market and green building design is now fast becoming the norm across the whole construction industry. With a recent European strategy announced last week to 'Green' the construction industry and make energy efficient practice a standard across the board, environmentally friendly buildings will soon become the norm across the UK and the rest of the European Union.

    Post By Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Thursday, 9 August 2012

    Next Steps For Green Deal Revealed By DECC

    A press notice released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) sets out the next stage of the Green Deal.

    Four major steps were published today by the DECC outlining new measures to be put in place over the Green Deal, the governments long awaited initiative, to help bring Britain’s housing stock up to energy efficient specifications, via a series of loans, paid back by the consumer through their energy bills. 
    • £7m loan to The Green Deal Finance Company to help ensure it is ready to offer finance to Green Deal Providers in early 2013. 
    • HM Treasury announces that Green Deal will be an early candidate for the use of infrastructure guarantees.
    • Green Deal registration opens today allowing organisations to begin the Green Deal authorisation. process. 
    • The new Green Deal Quality Mark will show who is authorised and protect consumers. 
    The £7m loan from the DECC to The Green Deal Finance Company (TGDFC) was agreed today and this will allow the TGDFC to continue developing its offer of low cost finance to be made available in early 2013. Green Deal Providers will be able to access finance through TGDFC, allowing them to offer low cost finance packages to consumers upgrading their homes under the Green Deal. 
    Furthermore, from today, the register for Green Deal Providers, Assessors and Installers will also open. The register will give the seal of approval to businesses that successfully complete the Green Deal authorisation process. 
    It is now necessary for all authorised Green Deal Providers, Assessors and Installers to display the new Green Deal Quality Mark, demonstrating their compliance with the required Green Deal standards. This is essential for protecting customers from any unscrupulous traders. This happened with fake Energy Performance Certificate(EPC) issues back in 2011 and now all EPC Assessors have to be registered and the EPC, whether commercial or domestic must have a valid code number to prevent this occurrence happening again. Therefore, only registered and authorised businesses will be able to use this new Green Deal Quality Mark. 
    Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister said: 
    ” I’m delighted to announce a number of important developments for the Green Deal today. The opening of the Green Deal register will enable businesses to start becoming Green Deal authorised and the Green Deal Quality Mark will show they have met our standards. Crucially, this will protect consumers, who will know that anyone displaying the Quality Mark has been through the required process to become authorised.” 
    The loan we have agreed with The Green Deal Finance Company will help them to undertake essential development and be ready to offer finance to Green Deal Providers in early 2013.” 
    For those businesses that want to become Green Deal Providers, it is possible now to apply directly online to become authorised. Furthermore, accredited certification bodies will be able to submit the details of Assessors and Installers to be authorised. 
    There is new guidance now on the DECC website that explains the requirements for achieving a Green Deal Quality Mark in order to become an authorised Provider, complementing existing guidance on how to become an authorised Assessor or Installer. 
    So there are plenty of measures in place to ensure that the right people will be doing the right job. While this is comforting, news from a recent report by You Gov for electrical company Rexel, that shows 81% of Brits who received energy bills are clueless as to how much money they are spending each year on energy, is less than encouraging. Without increased public awareness, it will not matter how safe the Green Deal is for consumers if they are still unaware that they are losing money as a result of bad energy practices and out of date, inefficient equipment.

    Post by Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Saturday, 4 August 2012

    Supermarket Giant Sainsbury's Boasts Largest Solar Array In Europe

    Sainsbury's reveals total Solar installation figures for almost 170 of it's stores.

    Over 69,500 solar panels have, to date been installed on the roofs of 169 Sainsbury's stores nationwide. The company now has 16MW of solar capacity across the 169 of its 572 UK supermarkets, collectively managing the largest solar array in Europe.

    When combined, the solar panels would cover 24 football pitches, reducing the overall carbon emissions of the company by approximately 6.800 tonnes a year. How much they have actually spent on this, Sainsbury's would not say but according to Business Green, a spokeswoman from the company said that the solar roll-out is set to continue as the company looks to make good on its '20 by 20 Sustainability Plan', that contains the pledges to reduce operational carbon emissions by 30 per cent against 2050 levels by 2020.

    Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury's, said : "It makes sense for us - it's good for the environment and for our business and we are actively looking to install more panels." He went on to say that, "Supermarkets have the equivalent of football fields on their roofs, many of them underutilised (and now) is the perfect time to turn that space into something positive.

    It is always good to learn of a large commercial operation like Sainsbury's investing in energy efficiency. The fact that they are continuing to re-invest in solar technology is great for the solar industry across the board, as it displays that the company must be seeing a return on their investment, large commercial enterprises being unlikely to continue such a project if no profit was forthcoming.

    Furthermore, Sainsbury's have just announced a major programme to install ground source heat pump’s at roughly 100 of its stores, in an effort to curb emissions from heating and cooling. It would be interesting to see the results of a Commercial EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for one of the supermarket buildings after solar and ground source heating were introduced.

    At the moment, it looks like Sainsbury's are set for straight A's and hopefully their sterling efforts to tackle climate change and be a more sustainable and responsible corporate entity, will echo through the commercial sector. As their competition say "Every little helps!"

    Post by Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Friday, 3 August 2012

    Europe Unveils Strategy And £120 Billion In Incentives To Turn Construction Industry Green

    European Commission unveils new strategy to incorporate energy efficiency as a standard in all areas of construction industry.

    Standard design and construction practices are to be put in place around Europe, to create a level playing field for construction companies to work in other member states around the EU. The emphasis will be on energy efficient building design and practice, with a a package of £120 billion in loans available from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

    Renovation and maintenance of buildings and the promotion of mutual recognition of sustainable construction systems and the improvement of resource efficiency will be paramount in the aims of the agenda. The strategy has been unveiled to take advantage of the potential of low energy buildings and to help restore sustainable growth.

    The European Commissioner, Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "In the current severe economic and social crisis, low energy buildings are safe and viable investments for society and private investors. The construction sector should see this as an opportunity to innovate and attract new talent. New technologies offer major potential, not only for new houses, but also for renovating millions of existing buildings to make them highly energy efficient in line with the EU 2020 objectives. Let's not miss this opportunity. The construction sector can become a driver of sustainable growth.”

    Efforts to improve energy efficiency and to integrate renewable energy technologies in the construction industry, have been progressing slowly in Europe, especially in renovating or retro-fitting old buildings and this will give a much needed boost to that area. British Commercial building stock is responsible for a significant amount of our total carbon emissions and retro-fitting these old buildings is an important step towards bringing us closer to our emission target goals. With demand for Commercial EPCs (Energy Performance Certificate) on the rise across the board, as a result of legislative strictures now in place to ensure energy efficient building standards and practices are enforced, the construction industry has already experienced operational and behavioural changes in the UK.

    This new strategy is encouraging, as it sets out a clear statement of intent from Europe to make sustainable building design and energy efficient technologies a new standard for the construction industry. This will help significantly in the battle against climate change by the provision and maintenance of low to almost-zero carbon buildings and set up a European workforce of newly skilled labourers, trained in the field of energy efficient building design and renewable technologies.

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    New Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Revs Up At Keele University

    Keele University Science and Business Park, is now the proud owner, of what is hopefully the first of many, vertical-axis wind turbines, installed and developed by McCamley UK Ltd as part of a national plan, to transform how cities generate their renewable energy.

    This prototype for a new verticle-axis wind turbine, has a revolutionary design, that allows several of the many issues commonly associated with the large horizontal-axis turbines, to be overcome. Urban wind turbines have always had a tough time in the UK, with most opposition being centred around the fact that they are potential eyesores, being both to large and too costly.

    The McCamley MT101 Mk2, now installed at Keele University, can deal with the stronger and more turbulent gusts, that are often found in Urban areas. Furthermore, the McCamley turbine is self-starting at wind speeds as low as 2 metres per second, not having to draw power from the electrical grid to restart when the wind has dropped below a certain level, unlike standard wind turbines. It also has no cut-out speed and can continue to operate in storm winds, thus increasing its operational weather window. It is even animal friendly, as no bird or bats have been recorded as ever having come into contact with the MK1 version of the machine, in trials around Europe and this is expected to be the case also, for the Mk2.

    The parts for the MT101 Mk2 are produced to 'flat-pak', using storable parts and as such, retrofitting and installation onto a roof without a supporting mast, is now easily achieved. Not just for use in urbanised areas, the vertical-axis wind turbine can also be applied on farms and associated rural areas.

    The potential for wind energy in the UK is huge and McCamley UK have found a niche in the market, that has been waiting to be filled. Dr Scott Elliot, CEO of McCamley UK Ltd, believes that, "Traditional farm models are just not effective and certainly not suitable for urban environments." The MT101 Mk2 has the potential to be the "new face of wind energy" and is "completely scalable, from 12 KW designs to larger megawatt designs". Dr. Scott Elliot feels that this will potentially, "allow residential blocks and other organisations to benefit from clean energy".

    This is a great new innovation and one the wind industry desperately needs. Bad press over ugly, imposing wind turbines may hopefully, one day, be a thing of the past and the anti-wind complainers may at last, have had the wind taken out of their constantly flapping sails.

    Wednesday, 25 July 2012

    Three Energy Efficient musicians and their positive impact on our generation and generations to come.

    All three of these celebrities have one thing in common, apart from being great musicians - The are all avid supporters of sustainable, environmentally friendly and energy efficient products and projects. 

    Willie Nelson, world famous American country star is a prime example. Did you know he developed his own alternative fuel called 'BioWillie' ? Back in 2004, shortly after his wife bought a diesel car, that she made the choice to fuel only with biodiesel, Nelson became interested in biofuels. He was so impressed with the energy efficiency and performance that biofuels give and the potential therein, to end America's reliance on imported fuel, that he decided to develop his own brand of biodiesel. This also helped provide family farmers, who were going through seriously difficult financial times, the much needed work to produce it. With help from another interested party, he built two Pacific Biodiesel plants in Salem, Oregon and Carl's Corner in Texas. 

    Joni Mitchel, the often named mother of Canadian folk, has spoken out against clear cutting, the controversial forestry/logging practice in which most or all trees in an area are uniformly cut down and uranium mining for nuclear weapons. Any environmentalist worth their salt, knows the classic track "Big Yellow Taxi" and the iconic lines, "That you don't know what you've got til its gone, they paved paradise, and put in a parking lot". Prophetic words that resonate deeply within the sustainability movement to this day.

    Neil Young, the Canadian singer-songwriter and folk rock legend, has always had the allegiance and support of environmentalists. He has an immense passion for electric cars, so much so, that in conjunction with LincVolt, he embarked on converting his classic 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV convertible, into a hybrid-electric plug-in car of the future. His album, "Fork In The Road" was inspired by the movement to transform American petrol guzzling cars, into the electric vehicles of the modern age. 

    There are many more celebrities who act as shining examples for energy efficient practice and sustainability around the world and it can only be a good thing that they funnel some of their huge fortune into such environmentally sound projects and movements. Children are easily swayed by famous musicians, much like we were many moons ago and it is heartening to see people with such power to create positive change in the world, spreading such an important message. A message that could influence the young minds of the future, to work in harmony with nature, as opposed to the current trend of 'bling' culture and self fulfilment, that is unfortunately promoted by many of today's talentless superstars.

    Tuesday, 24 July 2012

    Denver Sun Sponge: Opening My Eyes to Possibility: An Insider’s View ...

    Denver Sun Sponge: Opening My Eyes to Possibility: An Insider’s View ...: Before I attended the combined 2012  World Renewable Energy Forum  (WREF) and  American Solar Energy Society  (ASES) national conference, I ...

    University of California Research GPS That Picks Energy Efficient Route

    Researchers at the University of California are working on a route system that is GPS based and could potentially allow Electric Vehicles to drive 10 per cent further on a single charge. 

    Researchers at the Riverside Centre for Environmental Research and Technology are developing an eco-routing algorithm that will be able to select the most energy efficient travel route based on weather, traffic, road type and grade as well as passenger and cargo weight. 
    Up until now GPS systems would pick the best route based on distance, travel time and on more expensive systems, traffic flow would added to the equation. They have not, as yet taken into account vehicle emissions or energy efficiency when determining the most favourable route. 
    While it may be some time before we see GPS with energy efficiency calculators hit the market, the development could be a real aid to owners of electric vehicles, as their range can fluctuate significantly. owing to road, traffic and weather conditions. 
    For example, the Nissan Leaf, according to research, can have a range that varies from 47 to 138 miles, depending on such factors as the above. That would mean that an increase in range as little as 10 per cent, could make a difference to electric vehicle drivers, running out of battery charge on their way back home. 
    Electric vehicles are still slow to take off in the UK, but in the next ten years they may well be come more common place, with new technological advances in the pipeline, to make them more practical and affordable. The future is definitely here and electric, talking, automatically GPS driven cars, akin to those in the blockbuster film “Demolition Man”, may soon be available in the real world. Thank you for your time citizens :-)
    Article By Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Sunday, 22 July 2012

    DECC Study Finds People In UK More Concerned About Unemployment Than Climate Change.

    Analysis of DECC findings from a public survey on attitudes to climate change and energy security.
    In March 2012, the DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) set up a public tracking survey to monitor public attitudes to climate change, energy efficiency and other main DECC business priorities. One set of questions was asked quarterly and the other questions asked annually, all done using face to face interviews with households in the UK. 
    Wave One of the findings was published on July 9 2012 and the results are not at all encouraging. For the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on people’s attitudes to climate change and energy security. A further article on attitudes the DECC found in people regarding energy efficiency in the UK, will follow shortly, as this in itself, deserves a discussion of its own. 
    Disconcertingly enough, to quote the DECC summary of main points ” Few see energy supply and climate change as the biggest challenges facing Britain today (3% saying energy supply and 2% climate change versus 43% unemployment) “. This is interesting, as the amount of jobs now being created as a direct result of initiatives aimed to combat climate change, is becoming a significant part of the employment mix in the UK. 
    For example, the Green Deal is providing a host of opportunities for people to learn and train as Green Deal advisor’s and suppliers around the country and the amount of firms that have recently sprung up, directly related to this, is significant. If we go over to the renewable power industry and examine the amount of jobs that have been created through technologies such as Solar PV, Wind Power and Biofuels, to name but a few, then unemployment can only have been helped by the drive towards combating climate change in the UK. 
    Article by Paul Patane for Just EPC

    Tuesday, 17 July 2012

    Government Delays Crucial Decision On Renewable Energy Subsidies

    The government has reportedly delayed a crucial decision on subsidy levels for wind farms and other forms of renewable energy, after ministers failed to resolve a stand-off between Chancellor George Osborne and senior Liberal Democrats.
    An announcement on the level of support that renewable energy projects can expect to receive through the Renewables Obligation Certification (ROC) subsidy mechanism through to 2017 had been expected today, with ministers repeatedly stressing that they wanted to confirm the details before the summer's parliamentary recess.
    Renewable-energy developers have complained that millions of pounds of investment is currently on hold as a result of the lack of clarity over the returns they can expect.
    But according to reports in both theTelegraph and the Financial Times,the crucial decision has now been delayed until the autumn amid ongoing disagreements at the top of the coalition over the level of support that should be made available to onshore wind farms.
    Read More Here at Business

    Friday, 13 July 2012

    We Need New Leadership For Sustainable Business, Society And The World

    Ken Starkey, Guardian Professional, Friday 13 July 2012 16.12 BST

    We are living through an unprecedented period of economic crisis, one where ecological sustainability now needs to be seen in the context of economic and social sustainability. This requires a new way of thinking about and doing business that makes sustainability its core principle if we are to manage our way successfully out of the current situation.
    The key problem in effectively embedding environmental sustainability into business is that business leaders need to break out of a prevailing mindset where nature is viewed as little more than a means to an end.
    Similarly, the financial and ensuing economic and societal crises will only be resolved when business leaders, politicians, and the economists whose ideas they draw on recognise that we can no longer continue to use economic resources and ideas as a means to furthering the interests of a few at the expense of the many.

    Full Article Here

    Figures Reveal U.K. Number One in Global Energy Efficiency League

    U.K. Renewable power mix on target for 2020 as new figures reveal real how far the country has progressed in its mission to combat climate change.

    Recent figures released in a recent study by the Washington-based non-profit organisation, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, revealed that the U.K. came number 1 in an energy efficiency league of 12 of the largest economies. Germany, Japan, Italy and France followed in the rankings along with Australia, China and the European Union as a whole (including Britain), who all tied for sixth. The U.S. was in at number 9, with the booby prize going to Brazil, Canada and Russia, who limped in at the end.

    The nations were ranked by the council across 27 categories that covered buildings, transportation, industry and other areas of energy efficiency. The categories covered all other areas of the economy. Two such categories were “policy” metrics such as the presence of a national energy savings target and energy consumption and "performance” measures like energy consumption relative to economic output.

    This comes after government figures were released which showed a record increase in the use of green energy. The figures revealed that renewable energy generated by sun, wind and waves accounted for 11 per cent of the U.K.’s energy mix in the first three months of 2012, compared with 7.7 per cent from January to march last year.

    Tuesday, 10 July 2012

    Just EPC see demand for EPCs Rise as Green Deal Approaches

    Just EPC see demand for EPCs Rise as Green Deal Approaches: October sees the launch in the domestic property market for the long awaited Green Deal energy efficiency initiative. Here at Just EPC we are already receiving hundreds of calls from people inquiring about Energy Performance Certificates in relation to eligibility for Green Deal finance. The Green Deal offers domestic property owners a means by which to finance energy efficiency improvements and property upgrades at no up front cost, providing the upgrades see a return equal to or above the initial investment by way of reduced energy bills.

    Hong Kong unveils its first zero-carbon building

    The building is surrounded by green in a commercial area of the city

    HONG KONG — Hong Kong has unveiled its first “zero-carbon” building. But it is unlikely that others will follow.
    The three-storey structure, designed to be energy efficient, runs on solar power and biodiesel derived from waste cooking oil. These renewable energy sources will provide the necessary electricity, and then some: the developers expect the system to generate a surplus of power, which will be delivered to the electricity grid, offsetting the carbon emitted during the building’s construction.
    The building is scheduled to officially open to the public in September as office space for the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council, an advisory agency that led the project along with the local government. An events hall will also be available for rent.
    But far from considered the beginning of a trend, the building, whose roof is covered almost entirely with solar panels, is instead touted by developers as educational and “a showcase project to inspire.”
    For More Click Here