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?