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. Changes to the Green Deal and the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO)

As part of the Energy Bills announcements, the government outlined proposed changes to ECO. Alongside this, the Green Deal is also being improved to make it more attractive for consumers and to remove unnecessary cost for companies. The policy changes mean that less energy efficiency improvement work will be done under ECO funding each year – allowing energy companies to reduce bill increases by an estimated £50 per household per year – while tweaks to the Green Deal should stimulate more activity to make up for the loss, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

2. Salix Finance: a government fund for the Public Sector

Salix is a success story in facilitating energy efficiency measures in projects that make fundamental economic and environmental sense. Typical project types include: LED lighting; boiler replacements; building fabric insulation; combined heat and power; BMS upgrades; improved controls; free cooling; motor variable speed drives; to name a few. As of 31st October 2013 Salix has helped 794 clients to commit 11,449 projects valued at £272.8 million. These are forecast to:

  • save 438,084 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually and 5,750,877 tonnes over the projects’ lifetime;
  • yield £76 million of annual financial savings on public sector energy bills and £1 billion over the projects’ lifetime;
  • achieve (on average) a simple payback period of 3.56 years.

We have been providing technical support to Salix’s programmes since April 2008 offering independent assessment of business cases submitted for projects valued at £100k or more. 

3. April 2014 deadline for Sustainable urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) rules implementation

From April 2014, (in England) any construction works, which have drainage implications, will require approval (PDF, 74KB) before construction can begin; a combined application must be made to the local planning authority (LPA) including both the SuDS and planning permission applications. However, DEFRA has still not provided the necessary technical guidance to accompany the legislation. The absence of such guidance makes it hard for industry to prepare for the proposed changes.

4. Finalising Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Simplification

As part of the 2008 Climate Change Act, the UK’s target for greenhouse gas emissions is to be reduced by at least 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050. The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is a mandatory scheme aimed at improving energy efficiency, providing incentives and cutting emissions to large public and private sector organisations such as supermarkets, water companies, banks, local authorities and all central government departments. The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme started in April 2010. Phase 2 will start on 1st April 2014.

5. Mandatory energy efficiency audits: an opportunity for business-ESOS

Before 5th December 2015 every large enterprise (i.e. more than 250 employees or an annual turnover of more than €50 million) in the UK will, by law, have to undertake an energy audit. This audit will then have to be repeated every four years. The law itself is the UK bringing into force Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. Government’s new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) intention is that every audit will recommend cost-effective measures that will save organisations energy and money. Saving money on escalating energy bills will make business operations more efficient and increase competitiveness. Cutting down on energy waste will help ease the strain on Britain’s energy infrastructure and contribute to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

6. YMCA offers architect’s design affordable home with modular Y:Cube

Y:Cube has been created to provide affordable starter accommodation for young people unable to gain a first step on the housing ladder or pay the high costs of private rent. The system, by architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, primarily constructed from timber provides high quality accommodation which can be built fast, sustainably and cost effectively: it uses a pre-constructed ‘plug and play’ modular system with services incorporated arriving on site as a self-contained unit either being stacked on top or alongside each other.

7. Renewable energy solutions to meet 2013 Part L regulations in non-domestic buildings:

Sean Lockie, director of carbon + sustainability, will be at Ecobuild on the 5th March 2014 at 12:30, presenting on 'Balancing green energy costs with 2013 Part L – across building types'. The Government wants all new non-domestic buildings to be net zero carbon by 2019. As the new 2013 Part L regulations come into force in April 2014, designers and developers of new non-domestic buildings will be required to meet new carbon emission reduction targets through a balance of fabric-first efficiencies and deployment of renewable technologies. This session examines the details behind the headlines, and assesses which renewable energy technologies can deliver the most cost-effective solutions; how the overall 9% uplift will impact different building sectors; and what place will allowable solutions have?

8. Marks & Spencer scoops two awards at the CIBSE 2014 Building Performance Awards

Marks & Spencer’s Cheshire Oaks store has been awarded 'Carbon Champion of the Year (overall winner)' and the 'New Build Project of the Year (value over £10 million)' at the CIBSE Awards 2014.

Sean Lockie, director of carbon + sustainability and Keeran Jugdoyal, senior consultant, undertook and managed the post occupancy evaluation (POE) on the Cheshire Oaks project. Sean commented: "This is a great result for Marks & Spencer and their team who are delivering on their Plan A commitments. Typically there is a massive performance gap on projects between what is designed and the end product, and having a post occupancy evaluation by a team independent of the design team helps with accountability. Watch this space for a surge towards incentivising designers and contractors to delivering buildings to 'in use' performance targets."

9. Brussels backs 40% emissions reduction target

Members of the European parliament have voted in favour of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 in a move that could stimulate work in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors.

10. LEED v4 launched on 20th November 2013:

Highlights of LEED v4 include:

  • New sectors: New sector for LEED include data centres, warehouses and distribution centres, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects.

  • New credit categories: Some LEED 2009 credit categories have been consolidated into one credit in LEED v4 and at the same time some new key credit categories have been created such as the LTc1: LEED for Neighbourhood Development and Location, SSc1: Site Assessment, Water and Energy metering, and most notably under the Materials and Resources category, the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Environmental Product Declarations, the Material Ingredient Reporting and the Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern which could be cross referenced with the now consolidated Low Emitting Interiors credit.

  • Building performance management: LEED v4 is focused on outcomes so that building owners have a better understanding of how to manage their buildings to meet full performance potential.