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A collection of news stories, reports and announcements from or about Transition related matters.

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Low-carbon built environment

http://www.nce.co.uk/news/energy/small-wind-turbines-slammed/5213107.art...

This article, from the New Civil Engineer, includes the following very useful comments:

"Small wind turbines, such as those attached to buildings, will not help the UK meet targets to cut home and office carbon emissions, engineers have warned. A Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) report, written by Professor Doug King, said far greater cuts could be achieved in new buildings and in “retrofitting” old buildings by focusing on bringing energy use down through efficiency measures."

"King said on-site renewable energy generation, like small wind turbines or solar panels, makes little contribution to tackling energy demand.This kind of very expensive “eco-bling” achieves little or nothing, Prof King said."

The following link is to the Royal Academy of Engineering web page that, itself, has a link to the full report:

http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/releases/shownews.htm?NewsID=542

And the report at:

http://www.raeng.org.uk/education/vps/pdf/Engineering_a_low_carbon_built...

Even more significant comments that don't include the word 'bling' appear in the executive summary to the report:

"Few people in the UK built environment field even recognise the importance of building engineering physics, let alone know how to apply the principles in the design of buildings. Building projects are traditionally led by architects, not engineers, but building energy performance hardly features in architectural education. This lack of essential knowledge to inform strategic design decisions has led to the perpetuation of an experimental approach to building performance, rather than an approach based on synthesis, rigorous analysis, testing and measurement of the outcome.

The life spans of buildings are long and it may take a number of years for performance issues to come to light, by which time the original designers have long moved on and the opportunity to learn from experience is lost. Further, the competitive and adversarial nature of UK construction inhibits the dissemination of building performance information. Thus, the construction industry in 2010 is generally still delivering buildings that are little better in real performance terms than they were in the 1990s.

The UK goal now is to achieve 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Yet buildings presently account for some 45% of carbon emissions and it has been estimated that 80% of the buildings that we will be occupying in 2050 have already been built. The scale of the challenge in reducing fossil fuel dependency in the built environment is vast and will require both effective policy and a dramatic increase in skills and awareness amongst the construction professions."

There is a much wider significance, here, for all of us; how do we ensure that local authorities, their planning departments and elected representatives are aware of these constraints and are able to adequately assess energy efficiency in new build?