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Comment - Energy and Climate Change

Not Green enough!

Last Autumn Enfield Council published its sustainability strategy, Enfield 2020, for consultation.

The strategy contains wide-ranging and very ambitious goals and we welcome it. EGP's response concentrated on the ways in which the Council can affect greenhouse gas emissions from local buildings.

It's easy to show that national targets for greenhouse gas emissions require the emissions from individual buildings to fall by more than 80%. Since about 80% of the 2050 housing stock has already been built this requires a big effort on renovation. However, it is difficult to pioneer the radical new approaches needed on renovation work so we will start by considering new build. Here we believe that the targets are too modest and the strategy inappropriate.

1. The performance targets under are insufficiently ambitious. A development can be approved even though it requires more than three times as much heating energy as best practice.

2. In a recent paper Bruce Tofield of the University of East Anglia pointed out that buildings that comply with low-energy standards on paper generally do not achieve the implied energy efficiency. This is mainly due to poor practice in the UK construction industry.

Experience shows that really low energy use can only be achieved if efficiency is designed in from the start and realised in practice by a high-quality construction process. It requires changes in building practice, not just building standards. The only proven way is to follow the passivhaus method.

Also, these standards don't require either developers or local authorities to measure the energy efficiency of buildings but rather to rely on calculations. Actual measurements, in the few cases where they have been done, show that the calculations are often wrong.

Enfield Green Party strongly recommends that Enfield Council should:

1. Require all new Council-funded buildings commissioned after April 2013 to use passivhaus.

2. Make passivhaus-equivalent performance a Planning approval condition for all new buildings.

3. Work with local developers and building professionals to ensure that they understand the new standards and how to achieve them.

Our full submission is at http://tinyurl.com/EGP-passivhaus

First published in the EGP members newsletter, February 2013

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ