Leeds Sustainability Institute

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Constructing Excellence – why you should get involved

By Duncan Reed, Tekla & Green Vision Ambassador

I missed the Green Vision December conference as I was attending a Constructing Excellence meeting.

Firstly I have to admit that I wasn’t really aware of Constructing Excellence until about a year or so ago – is that just another example of how many organisations there are that exist to ‘support’ construction so that it can be hard to see the wood for the trees? But that is another blog all of its own I suspect.

From the ‘About Us’ Constructing Excellence webpage:

Constructing Excellence http://www.constructingexcellence.org.uk/ is the single organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction. We exist to improve industry performance in order to produce a better built environment. We are a cross-sector, cross-supply chain, member led organisation operating for the good of industry and its stakeholders.

Our Pedigree

In the mid-nineties a wide spread recognition arose of the need for the construction industry to improve the service it provided to its clients while also ensuring future viability for the wide range of organisations that operated in the industry.

In response to Sir Michael Latham’s 1994 report ‘Constructing the Team’ and Sir John Egan’s 1998 report ‘Rethinking Construction’ a number of cross industry bodies were formed to drive change. These included:

  • Reading Construction Forum
  • Design Build Foundation
  • Construction Best Practice Programme
  • Movement for Innovation
  • Local Government Task Force
  • Rethinking Construction
  • Be
  • Constructing Excellence
  • Construction Clients’ Group

Significant progress has been made in driving these initiatives into the practicing industry with many examples of projects that have been run in accordance with the fundamental principles.

In order to streamline the effort involved, all the above cross industry bodies were united as Constructing Excellence in 2003 to form a powerful, influential voice for improvement in the built environment sector.

Anyway, the meeting I attended – the CE Sustainability Group – was my second and another really interesting event with a very wide range of construction professionals present – the Highways Agency, an architect from Faulkner Brown, contractors Balfour Beatty and Skanska, manufacturers Knauf and Polypipe, myself representing Tekla, WRAP and the BRE and this is the key reason why CE events are so successful. Each person brought their own sustainability experiences and shared these in an open and wide ranging day’s discussion. Amongst other subjects we discussed were

  • Feedback from the CE National Convention held on 15th November 2013 including how CE is responding the Government Industrial Strategy Construction 2025
  • How the G4C – Generation for Collaboration group can realise change in businesses – and, yes, another new construction group for me
  • Strategies for linking this CE group to the regional CE Best Practice clubs – now these I had heard of thanks to Green Vision
  • The debate currently underway as to whether the UK housing market has the appetite to actually deliver housing that can achieve Code 5 or 6 certification.
  • The future of WRAP
  • The ICR – Infrastructure Carbon Review – and how the HA are responding to this
  • BS 8895-1:2013 Designing for material efficiency in building projects. Code of practice for Strategic Definition and Preparation and Brief. An invitation from WRAP for CE members to join the committee developing this standard
  • PAS 2070:2012 Specification for the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions of a city by direct plus supply chain, and consumption-based approaches. A document, developed by the Greater London Authority, to assess scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions
  • An embodied carbon database, produced by Arup and being developed as a tool by WRAP

As you can see, a huge amount of information was shared and discussed, from specific details to national strategies and lots of internet searches and further reading for me.

The meeting was rounded off with a lively Pecha Kucha session with myself, Lorna Stork of Knauf, Sandy Mackay from the BRE and Geri Smith of Balfour Beatty all talking ‘against the clock’ on the subject “What does sustainability mean to me/my organisation”.

So why this blog? Well quite simply as a sales pitch for everyone involved in construction to find out more about Constructing Excellence and to get involved. There are numerous specialist groups within CE looking at Construction Clients Group, G4C (Generation for Change), International, Asset Management, BIM, Collaborative Working Champions, Funding & Finance , Housing, Infrastructure, Nuclear, Social Media, Sustainability, Water Sector benchmarking and Clients’ Health & Safety so something for everyone to get involved with.

The next CE Sustainability Group meeting, on 20th March, will be all around the subject of Green BIM. See you there!!

#GVis Sustainable Materials: Healthy Buildings

Over 40 construction professionals gathered at Green Vision as we kick started our autumn series at Squires Sanders, 2 Park Lane in Leeds yesterday evening, in collaboration with the regional Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers. ‘Healthy Buildings’ was the focus, with an excellent panel of speakers covering the health drivers for sustainable material selection, importance of material selection in driving health improvements in hospitals, schools and offices and some startling research findings presented on evidence of health issues as a result of VOCs in building materials.

Chris Hayes of Skanska presented their ‘Color Palette’ and its application as a tool for one of their projects; the Karolinska Hosptial. Eddie Murphy of Mott MacDonald made a plea for engaging the User and Evidence Based Design as a means to creating better, healthy workplaces and environments. Dejan Mumovic presented a compelling case for an increase in air quality research.

Chris Hayes gave an overview of Skanska’s approach to green building introducing their ‘Color Palette’ and highlighting some impressive materials vetting from toxicity to life cycle impacts being used on the Karolinska Hospital project in Sweden. Chris stressed the importance of an intelligent client and supply chains in reaching ‘deep green’, and indicated that Skanska had pulled out of the USA Chamber of Commerce due to a clash of ethics with their stance on LEED materials, certainly evidence of an organisation standing by its green values.

Eddie shared his experience on Vulcan House and 2 St. Pauls as to the satisfaction levels of the end users of the building and advocated putting the user at the centre of design to over come the User performance gap. Reference was made to the work by Dr. Kerstin Sailor on ‘The generative Building’ and how a building can generate better social exchanges and more productive workplaces as well as enhance and improve the organization working within it. The key message was that in order to understand a building it is necessary to understand the clients, their business and the way in which the building will be used… Perhaps clients would pay more for POE’s if they could see the direct benefit in terms of improved business for them.

Last, but by no means least, was Dejan Mumovic from UCL who shared some of his research findings on air quality within schools in central London.
Schools pose a complex design challenge as they need to perform well over wide range of environmental issues and as children are much more vulnerable to air born pollutants. Dejan showed some striking European figures where the UK is ranked as one of the highest for Asthma in school across Europe. Dejan presented evidence emerging from the European SINPHONIE project, (Schools Indoor Pollution and Health: Observatory Network in Europe) across 22 countries; a complex research project covering the areas of health, environment, transport and climate change, aimed at improving air quality in schools and kindergartens. Evidence captured on two urban London schools (Victorian vs. Modern) linked building design and performance in terms of air quality, to health issues in children. In the heating season, temp ranges from 20-25 indicating overheating in schools, and were also identified as being linked to increases in dermal symptoms and oral symptoms in children.  One key design tip for designers was not to put carpets over under-floor heating, as this results in a breeding ground for bacteria.

A lively Q and A followed covering a variety of issues such as lack of VOC standards, a need for designers to move away from using BREEAM as a design guide, evidence of a growing interest in this area by the Healthcare industry and a need to demonstrate cost savings to Heathcare organizations through designing and delivering healthy buildings, all relevant and topical to construction and the healthy buildings agenda.

Construction21EXPO – the first virtual tradeshow for Green Buildings for the whole of EUROPE!

The “business case” for green buildings is understood by many of Europe’s leading project developers. Now we need to quickly enable design, construction and management teams to deliver the expected results for green new construction and renovation projects.

Construction21EXPO will bring together, in a cost efficient manner, green building investors, designers, solution providers and the many other important stakeholders in a two day virtual expo; saving money and eliminating travel time and associated carbon emissions with physical meetings.

UK_collaborative_logo

We are delighted that the UK LBC COLLABORATIVE* is a key UK  partner in this exciting project that is  supported by Green Building Councils and Construction21 Chapters across Europe as well as many other expert organizations.

As such we can offer additional discounts on the Exhibitor fees, but be sure to obtain a discount code from us prior to registering.

Watch the promotional video here  and download the Construction21EXPO_ Introduction for more information,  and do not hesitate to contact the EXPO team listed in the introduction document with any questions.

The UK LBC COLLABORATIVE is driving Living Building Challenge awareness in the UK and is hosted by the Leeds Sustainability Institute, Green Vision, Fairsnape, CKE and Be2camp.

JUST: a social justice label for construction …

Taking built environment sustainability deeper into the responsibility agenda, the International Living Future Institute are launching (Oct 2013) a new and important transparency initiative for the built environment to sit along side the Living Building Challenge and Declare. Just will provide clients, specifiers and procurers with ‘a view of how participating organisations treat their employees and where they invest their profits’

Just will cover the important areas of gender and ethnic diversity, salary equity, gender pay equity, community involvement, responsible investing and more, taking it beyond other programmes in the built environment sector. (And arguably areas that the UK Considerate Constructors Scheme should be addressing?)

The Press Release from ILFI reads:

In today’s global economy, it’s difficult to know what your consumer dollars are really supporting. JUST gives you an insider’s view of how participating organisations treat their employees and where they invest their profits. JUST works seamlessly with the International Living Future Institute’s Declare™ materials label and the next iteration of the Living Building Challenge™ (Version 3.0 — coming spring 2014).

By providing participating companies with a clear, elegant and informative equity ‘nutrition-label’, JUST aims to transform the marketplace through transparency and open communication. It aligns with the Institute’s Declare™ materials label to provide a holistic picture of both the products a company produces and the human story behind those products.
To participate in this voluntary disclosure program, an organization must submit documentation that asks for in-depth information about twenty distinct aspects of workplace equity and justice.
We’ll be launching the JUST label and searchable database FALL 2013. Join us in this critical initiative!
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Living Building Challenge Infographic

Spotted this excellent infographic explaining the Living Building Challenge recently covered on Treehugger

“The Living Building Challenge is the toughest green standard out there, but it is seriously gaining traction as people get to understand it”

Lloyd Alter writes “Skanska prepared what they call an infographic to help explain the Living Building Challenge. It’s not really; it is more like a Powerpoint presentation glued together, light on non-verifiable numbers, heavy on written content. It is the most concise summary of the LBC that I have seen yet”

Skanska_Living_Building_Final.jpg.492x0_q85_crop-smart

We are currently preparing the fist UK Living Building Challenge newsletter with exciting news, events, workshops, client interest and possibly the first UK registered LBC project!  To ensure you receive a copy follow @UK_LBC on twitter, leave a comment here or email us.

Exciting New Collaboration Announced

We’re delighted to announce a new collaboration with John Pike, founder and Managing Director of 40 Percent Symposium, the conference that is making sustainability mainstream in Commercial Real Estate.

Green Vision, our Leeds Sustainability Institute Knowledge Exchange Network is delighted to be working with John Pike who will be chairing our ‘Building Transparency’ event at Squires Sanders in Leeds next week.

40 Percent Symposium are a conference to be reckoned who provide an insight into the issues, legislation and what the best companies are doing to make their commercial building stock more sustainable with fantastic industry speakers who are owners of large property portfolios, property investors, retailers ,pension funds and developers. A perfect match for our Green Vision Network who continue to update, inform and connect construction professionals sharing case studies, practical experience and knowledge of Sustainability in the Built Environment.

John will be our formidable chair for our evening event on Wednesday 12th June in Leeds which is inspired by the topic of ‘Transparency’ of products, processes, data and buildings and will feature Nick Katz of Honest Buildings, Paul Wilkinson of PWCom and Stella Kenway of Reprisk. We expect a good turnout and the usual excellent hospitality of our hosts Squires Sanders and look forward to an enjoyable evening of discussion, debate and networking. See booking information here

Green Vision Half-day Conference

This blog piece is brought to you by Duncan Reed, formerly of Balfour Beatty.

Duncan is a sustainability advocate with experience drawn from a career delivering schemes in a variety of market sectors as a Principal Contractor. As a sustainability champion he works to ensure that good practice and transparency is used to make a difference in the communities and to leave a positive legacy.

The spring season of Green Vision came to a fantastic end on Wednesday 17th April with the half day conference Demystifying Green Buildings. There was a venue change this time with hosts WSP providing some great facilitates for the attendees.

Claire Bowles, Project Director for Construction Knowledge Exchange and powerhouse behind the event, opened the proceedings and introduced the chair for the day – Sophie Stephens, Head of Sustainability; Delivery and Development (@SophLS78)

The first speaker up was David Symons (@DavidSymons) from our hosts WSP. He gave a wonderfully animated overview of what we thought the 21st century was going to look like for people living in the 1950s and proved the analogy that the major trends will may often be right the details can be a little off – yes where are our personal flying cars? He outlined three large changes, mega trends, which are facing the world as it strives to become more sustainable.

  1. Resources will be much more expensive than today – David highlighted the challenges faced by big business – the amount of timber IKEA consumes a year on one hand (an area the size of Switzerland!!)  yet how Interface is making carpets out of old fishing nets in the Philippines
  2. Technology will change how we work – and in what type of building. This one really caught my attention. The various levels of productivity between office and home working. We all need to interact with other people but don’t necessarily need to travel into the office. Yet home working is less efficient in terms of energy use! David cited the really novel idea of working hubs – effectively multi firm hot desking – being created above train station in the Netherlands. They looked great with the added bonus of trains outside the windows too! 
  3. A future of equals, a shift from a one size fits all approach to business to a future that is bespoke to the customer preference.

Following on from David was John Alker, Director of Policy & Communications at the UK Green Building Council (@johnalker) John took us all for a brisk walk through the current policy changes happening in relation to sustainability in the UK. There were many challenges to the delegates themselves –

  • How green do we think the coalition really is?
  • Are we supporting Green for Growth?
  • Is our professional Institution supporting the Building Magazine campaign

John finished up with a heads up of what’s coming next –

  • Part L: May
  • Housing Standards Review: May
  • Green Deal plan numbers: June
  • Allowable solutions: July
  • Energy audits: Summer
  • RHI: Summer
  • MEPs: Autumn

But my favourite bit was the slide from the USGBC conference. During the presentation from the head of the USGBC the back drop said – We Are Right. Powerful words but ones we should be using too.

Both keynotes gave us some great insights and powerful thoughts for us to consider across the rest of the afternoon sessions.

The first roundtable session I sat in was led by Jason Richards from WSP.

Jason outlined the WSP tool ReValue but conversation soon moved into a healthy discussion covering how to define levels of refurbishment (with the view that in reality there were many levels of granularity) the important need to start with a real conversation with the customer as to what was best value for them in the context of refurbishment and yet again how to unlock greater in use benefits by moving operational expenditure to support capital works. A lively debate thanks to representatives from Skanska, Race Cottam, Bottle Alley Glass, DTZ and Balfour Beatty among others.

The second roundtable I sat in Green Deal perspectives, led by Martin Brown (@fairsnape).

6 in group.

Martin highlighted how important the Green Deal is to sustainability and how it is as much to do with changing behaviour as reducing energy consumption. In the UK a huge chuck of energy use is from domestic sector but the Green Deal also is designed to combat UK fuel poverty, which is one of the highest in Europe. He also described how there are knock on effects to that people in fuel poverty are often found to be living in unhealthy buildings too. However the group was also reminded that the Green deal is fundamentally a financial model and needs to be considered this way with repayments against loans made through the property, via the meter in a very well controlled and regulated market.

The group discussed the confusion between Assessors, Providers (PM), Installers and how this was changing supply chain dynamics as well as concerns with the scheme around the thoroughness of the assessment, the use of the building and dealing with behavioural change. In many cases warmer homes meant people just wore less rather than turned the heating down! There is also evidence that as heating costs reduce overall energy sots do not as electrical costs increase.

The discussion moved onto the commercial application of the Green Deal. This is already possible, which was a surprise to much of our group. Applying the Green Deal could have major implications to the retrofit market, not just for customers and designers but also for FM providers. Lots of food for thought.

We all then gathered back into the main room for feedback from all the roundtable sessions. In addition the two sessions I attended there were two other roundtables discussions that fed back to the main group.

Financing Low Carbon Retrofit, by Christoph Harwood of Marksman Consulting.

Christoph was asking whether there are barriers to arranging finance for renewables, equipment or fabric upgrade for a building. The group found that there were different options regardless of the buildingwith it more being down to the  occupier and/or tenant, and their financing needs and strategies. With the many ways to secure finance (on balance sheet, off balance sheet, ESCO, Green deal etc) there should be no reason not to finance building retrofit.  Non-financial barriers are often bigger issues.

Better things to spend your money on, by Colin Robertson of NG Bailey.

Colin took another view on possible market barriers, centred on financial, technical and operational issues. If property as an investment is not performing well then refurbishment can be high on agenda and investing in buildings can be better for softer benefits too. In short owners need to be more aware of opportunities and the challenge was set on how to may owners and occupiers more aware..

Next up on the bill was our international speaker, Amanda Sturgeon from the Living Building Challenge. https://ilbi.org/lbc  Amanda is their Vice President and several of the audience had been lucky enough to see her present in London 3rd April (for more details of this event see http://fairsnape.com/2013/04/04/introducing-the-living-building-challenge-in-the-uk/ ).  Thanks to some technical wizardry by Martin Brown the link was made and Amanda was able to speak to the room directly from Seattle.

Today she was sharing a case study on the Bullitt Centre, Seattle, which Amanda and her colleagues moved in to 4 weeks ago as the new home for Living Building Challenge.

Amanda described the highlights of their new building and how is met the seriously challenging requirements to be Living Building certified.

  • No parking provided. Bus line, car share, light rail.
  • Net zero energy despite being located in the most limited solar resource in US.
  • The 244kW array on the roof, still bigger than the footprint of the building but sized based on an overall 83% reduction in energy requirements through the overall design process.
  • Using daylight factor to reduce energy needs. Pretty much 100% day lighting that can be can be used.
  • Net Zero water. A 52000 gallon cistern has been provided with rainwater for potable uses. The team lobbied the local authorities to change potable water use, and to get a grey water infiltration agreement. The latter was resolved by a 400sqft bio-mediation field, a 2nd level roof garden and by a sidewalk infiltration bed.
  • No black water treatment, all dealt with by the use of composting toilets with ten composting bins in basement where the residue is used as fertiliser.
  • Health and community. Irresistible stair – big and best views to persuade people use them rather than elevators.
  • Workstations within 30ft of windows, which are openable.
  • Triple gazed Schuco windows that weren’t previously available in the US. New workshop created in Seattle by supplier Goldfinch that can now deliver this system elsewhere in the US.

Materials.

Amanda described how they avoided materials on the red list. This list of 14 banned materials leads to a longer list of 362 chemicals that are not permitted under the Challenge.

https://ilbi.org/lbc/LBC%20Documents/lbc-2.1

The project challenged suppliers to go further with chemical transparency and more sustainable souring. For example dry wall materials were normally sourced in Mexico but the team found a  supplier in British Columbia that meant that the impact of these materials was greatly reduced. It was not without complication but could be done and proved that by challenging and tracking it is possible to achieve better results. Don’t accept the norm.

Amanda finished up by answering questions from the delegates back in Leeds.

  1. How much was the building design determined by building physics? Yes – thermal solar gain was reviewed in detail and the building was extensively modelled shading, blinds. The Centre faces west, typical for building in Seattle, but a challenge to the design.  There were extensive studies on the envelope too which helped them achieve the massive reduction in energy load. (the Bullitt Centre also complies with Passivhaus standards). Very tight envelope. However the biggest variable will be plug loads and this will be a challenge to try to keep on track.
  2. What is in place to monitor the building? Research will continue and is being studied by one tenant – Integrated Design Lab – a laboratory of University of Washington with other partners. The LVB are also designating a member of staff to monitor energy use too. For the next 12-18 months.
  3. How is the building heated? Electrical under floor heating with a small amount of domestic hot water. No combustion is allowed under the Living Building Challenge.

The audience was also reminded that there is now a Living Building Collaborative in Leeds (@UK_LBC). This is being managed jointly by Leeds Sustainability Institute  and Fairsnape.

After this thought provoking presentation the delegates were treated to two very different Pecha Kucha sessions. For those who haven’t seen this format there are just two rules – 20 slides and they auto advance every 20 seconds.

First up was Phillipa Ashbee from Glass Bottle Alley.

Phillipa showcased her business that makes recycled glass into anything from worktops, splash backs, place mats and coasters to furniture and external envelope panels – in fact pretty much anything in glass. What makes Glass Bottle Alley unique is that they fuse their crushed glass in a kiln so there is not resin added, the product is 100% and can be recycled again if necessary without any loss of quality. Phillipa showed some fantastic images both commercial and domestic with novel uses such as backlighting or colour change LEDs to further enhance their product.

The second presentation was from Martin Brown and focussed on the opportunities and the risks associated with the Green Deal.

The Green Deal is a finance model, a personal finance initiative. But there is a risk of the perfect storm of –

the untrained selling unsuitable to the uninformed

Whilst Martin agreed that energy use is very important he noted that we count solve today’s problems with the thinking that created them in the first place, we can’t just  be less bad and cited why the Living Building Challenge is so good.

The delegates were challenged how to think differently? But still being collaborative.

 Every time you make the right decision for the environment you make a profit.

Yves Chouinard.

 So what is the Green Vision network going to take from today? Some of the key points that came out in the final open discussions were

  • More information and advice on the Living Building Challenge. Materials, healthy products.
  • A broader view of sustainability, not just energy focussed.
  • .Project examples. Exemplar projects.
  • How monitor and feedback.
  • Honest appraisal of the buildings in use.
  • Sharing that knowledge.
  • It’s more than the design. Think about in the round. Not legislation driver but a business opportunity.
  • Howe do we get people to think longer term, 5,10,15 years of building in flexibility. Get owners and occupiers to understand this first.
  • Landlords making places as a destination. Not throwing everything away bit building virtuous circles.
  • Recycled content information. Is there information or a database out there?

So after an other useful, interesting and undoubtedly challenging afternoon Sophie brought the proceeding to an end with thanks to all the speakers, the organisers and the delegates.

See you all at the next event – Green Vision are presenting at GreenBuild on May 8th and then the next twilight seminar will be focussing on ‘Building Transparency ‘ on June 12th.

A Green Vision for Social Media at Green Build Expo

logoBe2Camp returns to Greenbuild Expo in May with Green Vision.

This year’s session, taking place on 8th May at Manchester Central from 1pm, will be the most exciting  yet, with an amazing line-up of speakers (see below for programme).

GreenBuild Expo itself attracts over 4,000 built environment professionals and takes place on 8th and 9th May. It features over 100 free seminars and workshops on all aspects on sustainable buildings, from integrating renewable energy and BIM for beginners to skills for Green Deal and strategies for climate change adaptation. Speakers include UK Green Building Council, Energy Saving Trust, Warm Up North, Manchester City Council and many more. For free registration visit www.greenbuildexpo.co.uk.

Be2Green

The speakers will include some of the top presentations from Green Visions last three years’ programme, along with BE2 friends old and new. Join us for the whole afternoon, or one of the three great sessions we have planned.

1.00 Welcome

1.15 – 2.00 Green Knowledge – how social media can help us learn, share and advance green sustainability knowledge, including essential tips on promoting your green credentials

2.15 – 3.00 Green Materials – transparency in green and healthy materials, featuring presentation from Kelly Grainger, Interface and Philippa Ashbee from Bottle Glass Alley.

3.15 – 4.00 Green Futures – what’s emerging in the world of green building, featuring ‘Green Towns’’ Prof Angus McIntosh from Oxford Brooks University, and Paul Toyne, Global Head of Sustainability at WSP and a keynote live presentation from Amanda Sturgeon, VP Living Building Challenge, from the recently completed Bullitt Centre in Portland, called by many the greenest commercial building in the world (Not one to miss!).

Do you have something to share, Pecha Kucha style (thats 20 slides, each 20 seconds) that will fit one of the above sessions? We will keep one slot free for ‘on the day’ contribution But if you are interested please let the Greenbuild Expo organisers know in advance. (1st come, 1st served ….)

As in previous years, our afternoon session will be live streamed and web enabled allowing real global sharing from and into the event.

BE2 (Be2Camp) are Greenbuild Expo’’s social media partners, and a social media advocacy for built environment sustainability and collaborative working

Green Vision, part of the Leeds Sustainability Institute and Centre for Knowledge Exchange and committed to driving sustainable change for construction professionals

Demystifying Green Buildings

The transcript, Storify style,  of the excellent Green Vision half day conference can be read here

Catch up with the comments and tweets through the day, revisit presentations and explore the numerous links shared during the event. Also read through tweets and observations from the day’s round table discussions

  • Financing Low Carbon Retrofit
  • The Real Green Deal
  • Better things to spend your money on
  • The business case for commercial retrofit
  • Revalue – Assessing the Improvement Fundamentals of Buildings

A sample of the presentations delivered include: John Alker

and Amanda Sturgeon live from the Bullitt centre

#GVis Demystifying Green Buildings: The Opportunities of Retrofit

A packed out room of Construction professionals gathered for yesterday’s Green Vision seminar at Squires Sanders.  Nigel Banks, Group Sustainability Director for Keepmoat   gave a compelling presentation on the Green Deal and the current Governments’ approach to tackling Fuel Poverty. George Munson Energy and Climate Change Manager at Leeds City Council highlighted the excellent retrofit programmes being delivered by the Leeds City Region and the tangible energy savings and health benefits achieved by household residents. Whilst Karen Stafeckis, Area Manager for Turner and Townsend  discussed the process and business case for adopting low carbon retrofit projects in the public and private sectors.  .

Nigel titled his presentation somewhat tongue in cheek as ‘Selling Fuel Poverty’ highlighting the importance of fuel poverty as a key priority for government. Yet despite it being high on the government agenda we are currently in our first government since 1970 which does not have a government programme in place to tackle the issue of the fuel poor.  The Green Deal with its 7% interest rate could prove off-putting for poorer households, and fuel-poor consumers could miss out altogether. Nigel argued that the Green Deal will not stop fuel poverty rocketing as fuel prices rise.

Nigel advocated the importance of understanding and working solutions appropriate to the house and occupiers when looking to improve social housing stocks on a whole estate basis . He also emphasised the importance of these upgrades being offered at Low or no cost helping residents move out of extreme fuel poverty in tough times when fuel bills have tripled. Keepmoat have done extensive work and research around solutions and technologies and how they work together , delivering savings of up to 80% on carbon in some properties and demonstrating considerable cost savings to residents . Nigel said the Green Deal has excited the construction industry but it may only bring benefit and be appropriate for a tranche of the market with its 7% interest rates and can’t be seen as a solution to tackle Fuel Poverty as the bottom 20% may not even be eligible for the Green Deal finance.

George Munson shared Leeds City Councils learning of delivering the green deal in the Leeds City Region on the Green Deal Demonstrator programme which started in October 2012. The programme emerged following on from DEEP and Wrap upLeeds.LeedsCityregion agreed to collaborate for the 2.6 million green deal demonstrator programme involving a small framework of suppliers. The programme was set up with the primary aims of testing the green deal with a longer term agreement to work on a 3-8 year green deal programme  . This project was a test bed to investigate the appetite for loans and test the market for new niche housing types  of solid wall properties and hard to treat cavities. George indicated the first project of external insulation to 1960s properties as a real success with great take up and low impact in terms of intrusion and high impact in terms of comfort improvements. Great way to transform an estate. The second part to the demonstrator is testing the appetite for loans which when offered at 0% enquiries have been flooding in. There is a third element to the programme in the pipeline which will look at Victorian terraces where internal  insulation would not have been possible had the  Government not just released its new planning guidance whereby external wall insulation is permitted unless in listed buildings or conservation areas.  George brought his presentation to a close by drawing out key learning to date indicating an appetite for loans, an appetite from the market yet the need for an alternative to the Green Deal finance. Leeds City Region will be looking ahead to their long term Green Deal offer to deliver improvements on 450,000 properties over the next 3-8 years.

Karen Stafeckis shifted the focus of the evening from housing to an in-depth look at Retrofit of non domestic buildings , both Public and Private, highlighting the importance of optimising energy performance in existing occupied buildings. Karen saw social and economic pressure driving businesses towards the low carbon retrofit agenda change alongside increased movements around CSR and increased consumer demand for optimised buildings.  She delivered a clear message around the process of measurement, benchmarking, setting realistic energy targets and bundling of buildings to optimise paybacks.  Karen shared her experience of the Mayor of London’s public Sector initiative RE:FITwhich was first launched in 2008 and guarantees energy savings achieved through low carbon retrofit. 5 years into the scheme and it is achieving guaranteed savings typically up to 28% pa and payback periods typically less than seven years.   .

Karen concluded with discussion of the recently launched World Green Business Council’s ‘Business Case’for Green Buildings, and a strong message that optimising energy efficiency can deliver economic as well as environmental benefits.

GVis members posed some excellent questions around occupier behavior and its impact on the Green Deal. Also good points raised on multi occupancy buildings and a shift towards community heating systems. Green Deal finance was a hot topic as ever raising the questions around interest rates, saleable value of homes under the Green Deal.

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