Sustainability - 10 Green Highlights

Eirini Matsouki
With sustainability and green initiatives an increasingly important part of the government's and business agenda we have prepared our next edition of 10 green highlights below to summarise a few of the current issues and up and coming events.

1. UK’s Biggest Smart Meter Deal

The UK Government’s Smart Meter Implementation Programme, which aims to help all domestic households and non-domestic industry cut their energy bills. A policy that requires utility companies to install more than 53 million power and gas meters by 2020, part of a £12 billion program which will provide property owners with near real-time information about their energy use, expressed in pounds and pence, and vastly improve the ability to manage energy use, save money, reduce emissions and assist in meeting UK’s carbon targets.

Smart meters would transmit information about usage of power and gas meters to data storage sites and pass it back to energy suppliers and grid operators, forming the beginning of a "Smart Grid". It is understood that Spain’s Telefonica SA (TEF) is the preferred bidder to build two of the smart metering communications contracts worth 1.5 billion pounds ($2.33 billion). The mass roll-out will start in late 2015 and end by the end of 2020.

2. UK Part L changes announced

A 6% improvement in energy efficiency standards for new homes and 9% improvement for non-domestic buildings (based on 2010 Part L Building regulations) are to be the targets required within the heavily revised 2013 UK Building Regulations! The delayed changes come into force on 6 April 2014. The update follows a consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG):

Requirement for dwellings

  • For new dwellings, the average reduction in CO2 emissions will be an aggregate 6%;

  • Fabric Energy Efficiency standards (FEE’s) will be introduced into the Regulation in 2013 for new homes; and

  • The cumulative reduction 2002‐2013 is 46%, leaving 56% remaining for zero carbon in 2016.

Non-domestic CO2 emissions

  • Target reduction in CO2 emissions of 9% aggregated across the build mix;

  • Strengthening of the minimum energy efficiency standards associated with building services, including air conditioning and lighting.

3. Next steps to zero carbon homes: allowable solutions

CLG says it will soon publish a consultation on allowable solutions – measures that house builders can use to achieve a zero carbon rating. The consultation will seek views on "a pragmatic, flexible way to help house builders meet the zero carbon homes standard by reducing some carbon emissions 'off-site'."

The consultation sets out, and hopes to gain further views and evidence on, the main principles, price cap and processes for the delivery of these 'allowable solutions'. CLG has also published a development stage impact assessment alongside the consultation.

4. Facilities management sector to contribute to cost cuts through resource efficiency

Resource efficiency still isn’t being incorporated into facilities management contracts. This is costing UK business millions.

Working with WRAP, Faithful+Gould team has reviewed FM contracts with a combined value of over £2bn – and found that it is common for costs associated with key resources such as energy consumption and waste either not being properly managed with effective KPIs, or not being considered at all!

5. Tackling the Challenges of Urban Growth

'Future Proofing Cities' proposes a fresh approach to the urgent issues arising from rapid urbanisation. More than half of the world's population already live in cities and this is expected to reach 75 per cent by 2050. It aims to help cities develop programmes of investment which meet their multiple objectives, utilising and building on the institutional capacities they have available.

The partnership report (ATKINS, UCL and Department for International Development) assesses the risks to 129 cities - from climate hazards, resource scarcity, and damage to ecosystems - and proposes ways in which cities can be empowered to future-proof their communities.

6. RICS Embodied Carbon Guide

In response to the UK government's Low Carbon Construction Plan (published June 2011); RICS has drawn together industry experts to develop guidance on mitigation of whole life embodied carbon.

Faithful+Gould’s Peter Berebecki and Sean Lockie were lead authors of the 1st edition of the guide, which was launched in 2012 after about 18 months of focus groups and industry engagement. Faithful+Gould is now working with the RICS on a 2nd edition of the guide. This will include not only the initial embodied carbon impacts of the project but also construction, use and end of life.

7. Winding down the role of the Code for Sustainable Homes? 

The 10 week consultation period for the views on the results of the recent review of building regulations and housing standards, which will abolish a range of “unnecessary and confusing” housing standards including the phasing out the Code for Sustainable Homes ends on 22nd October 2013. The Code will lose a few of its credits and for some of them the improvement will be as per the Part L.

8. Mandatory Energy Audits

Big organisations have to do energy audits every four years to identify opportunities for energy savings. This is important for large (non-SME) enterprises but also has implications for energy consultants. From December 2015, large UK enterprises must have four-yearly energy audits under a new "Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme". ESOS is the UK's response to the European Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency.

9. LEED v4 launch in November 2013

After three years of development, six public comment periods, and plenty of controversy, U.S. Green Building Council members voted to approve LEED v4LEED version 4 has been approved by a vote of USGBC members, with 86% of the voting body voting in the affirmative during a June 2013 ballot period. Approval of LEED v4 as the next version of the LEED rating system clears the way for its launch during the Greenbuild conference in November 2013.

Project teams will be allowed to register for either LEED v4 or LEED 2009 until June 1, 2015, after which only LEED v4 will remain open. (Projects registered under LEED 2009 will be allowed to complete the certification process under that system as long as they do so before it "sunsets," which could happen as late as 2021, according to precedents).

10. Institute of Sustainability to build cradle-to-cradle demonstrator on London Sustainable Industries Park (SIP)

The Institute of Sustainability has won planning approval to build the UK’s first cross-business cradle-to-cradle (C2C) demonstrator. Using by-products previously treated as waste from industrial businesses, the demonstrator will explore how C2C principles and other 'beyond sustainability approaches' could work in practice.

Working with the Greater London Authority and University of East London, the institute will develop the demonstrator on the London SIP in Dagenham, East London. The demonstrator will help businesses on the London SIP work together to understand how synergies between their production processes can help create additional value from their waste or by-products, which would otherwise be down-cycled, sent to landfill or discharged back into the environment.