A big “green” impact

It goes without saying that the green agenda is massive. And no more so than in my particular industry – which it is clear can make a huge impact.

Last week I had a brief tour of the eco-houses at Nottingham University.

These have been built over a period of time and are now at ‘zero-carbon’ standard. One of the houses is Code 6 which represents the highest current standard that we can build to. But my real interest was in the E-On House which was built to replicate a 1930’s house – complete with brick walls, tiled roof and single glazed windows. It is a real-life experiment and phase one is complete – where a family lived in the house for a year. Phase two is now to carry out works to the house to retro-fit ‘green technologies’ to get to a zero-carbon standard. Another family will move in and they too will be monitored. This is to measure the effectiveness of the new technologies.

Housing accounts for around 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions each year so this is a massive potential market.

There are 21.5m homes in England according to the latest English Housing Survey published last week. And we are building new stock at between 100,000 and 150,000 units a year (depending on the state of the market). So even if all new housing were at ‘zero-carbon’ it’s not difficult to see that we are only scratching the surface of the carbon output!

The work being done at the University is therefore critical to finding how best we can improve the ‘older’ housing stock. Some of the measures are simple (fitting better insulation to lofts?) and others are more complex and costly (installing photo-voltaic cells).

Whichever route we go down – these changes could make a significant difference – and fundamentally save money….

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