Buildings last a long time. Many of us live in houses built well over 100 years ago. Many public buildings – eg schools, libraries, railway stations – have also existed for many decades.
When we build today we are building for the future; so we need to think about the future we are building for.
The future is always uncertain but one of the least uncertain things is this: Our climate, nationally and globally, will be warmer. Climate change is already causing floods, droughts and heatwaves. To avoid catastrophic change we must stop using fossil fuels and to make this tolerable we must use energy much more efficiently.
In the case of buildings that means adopting much higher standards for energy efficiency and insisting that new buildings comply with them. The second point is critical. Many studies have shown that most buildings – even those claiming ‘green’ credentials – perform less well in comfort and energy efficiency than expected. This is due both poor design and poor workmanship.
The solution is to build according to Passivhaus principles since, uniquely, passivhaus defines a design process, standards and an inspection regime. The key principles of Passivhaus are:
- Insulation rather than heating.
- Design to avoid thermal bridges (which remove heat and create cold spots)
- High quality work to avoid draughts
- Mechanical ventilation
- Recovery of heat from expelled air.
The results are impressive:
- Many ‘Passivhauses’ get most of their space heating from domestic appliances and home computers.
- A Passivhaus school in Wolverhampton is heated by a single, domestic size, gas boiler.
Enfield Green Party policy, adopted in 2012, is to
- Require all new Council-funded buildings to use Passivhaus.
- Make Passivhaus-equivalent performance (especially the requirement that space heating should need no more than 15 kWh/m2 pa) a planning approval condition for all new buildings. Developers who claim to achieve this performance without fully adopting passivhaus should be required to (1) demonstrate that their plans will achieve this, (2) pay for a post-occupancy energy audit and (3) pay the buyers’ compensation for any expected excess energy use over the first 30 years of occupancy. In estimating energy performance it should not be sufficient to rely on SAP2009 calculations.
- Work with local developers and building professionals to ensure that they understand the new standards and how to achieve them. It may, in order to encourage the Greening of the local construction industry, be appropriate to subsidise some professional training.
Energy is not the only resource that is likely to become scarce. New housing should also conserve water by capturing rainwater and reusing grey water.
Enfield Green Party has been surveying residents to find out what you think of local services. We know litter, fly-tipping and waste collections are a priority. We will improve waste services to make it easier for people to recycle, particularly in flats and shared housing. We will introduce more recycling bins in public places and encourage local businesses to adopt greener waste strategies.
Protecting youth services that reduce knife crime
Sharp decreases in funding for youth services have been accompanied by increased occurrence of knife crimeBetween 2012 and 2017, council funding for youth services has been cut by 60% in Enfield, decreasing by over £2 million. Enfield Green Party would fight to reverse these cuts, ensuring more youth centres and services to keep children and young people safe. We would seek to tackle the causes and culture of knife crime, as has been done successfully in Scotland
The Green Party is the only party who believe that every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
For people who fall on hard times, we believe the right to rent = people facing difficulties should have the right to rent their home as council housing. This includes all people!
Green Party Policies on Energy are as much about power and tackling fuel poverty than about climate change. Any new houses built or re-built should be to passivhaus standard, which is significantly better than the so called zero carbon standard that was in the London plan and not kept to and it is the full time job of Green Party Assembly Members, Sian and Caroline, to hold the Mayor of London to account.
Greens in Government would:
- Provide suitable local homes to unaccompanied children fleeing Syria, Iraq etc. both through the council and through civil society groups.
- Stronger protections are needed for agricultural land, greenbelt and urban green spaces. Landowners should be forced to go ahead with planned development on derelict urban sites
- Councils should focus on providing affordable housing that meets local needs and they should be required to bring empty properties back into use, stop demolishing existing homes
- Housing should be built to high environmental standards, including insulation, renewable energy, rainwater recycling and appropriate materials
- Local services, job opportunities and good public transport links should be required with all new developments.