If anyone can pull off a green home renovation with the minimum of fuss, it should be Michael Liebreich. He is a clean energy guru and a Harvard MBA. He won a prize for thermodynamics at Cambridge. He is married to a climate scientist who is also a green energy analyst, and he is not short of a quid. In 2009 he sold the New Energy Finance research firm he had founded in his living room to the Bloomberg News group in a deal that made him a multimillionaire. Yet he still has painful memories of what it took to carry out an upgrade on his Victorian terraced townhouse in west London four years ago – one of the most ambitious green projects ever on a UK private home. Yet if people like Liebreich struggle, what hope is there for the rest of us? His green refit may have been more ambitious than most, but many of the hurdles he faced could affect anyone. And things may be getting worse. Instead of going down, emissions from housing rose slightly between 2016 and 2017, according to a report last month from the government’s climate advisers, who listed the many green home policies that have been ditched, weakened or overlooked in recent years. The report singled out one of the biggest headaches for Liebreich: a green skills gap in the housing industry. The Netherlands is also making strides with Energiesprong, or energy leap, a scheme that offers a radical green makeover with wall cladding, solar panels and other measures that have cut energy bills by as much as 60 per cent. The system has been rolled out in social housing in Nottingham but it is expensive and experts say it will need to expand before costs come down. It is obvious the UK must do more, but it is unclear what a Brexit-distracted government will achieve. Ministers listed 17 measures to improve homes and lower bills in a 2017 clean growth strategy, but some were reannouncements or vague commitments, while others required public consultation. As the government’s climate watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, put it in a report on housing last month, the government needs to take urgent action because “current policies are not driving the required changes”.
FT 15th March 2019 read more »
Chancellor Philip Hammond has received mixed feedback from the green economy for his Spring Statement, which included proposals for a new ‘Future Home Standard’. While specific details on the standard have yet to be disclosed, Hammond said it would ensure all new homes are built without fossil fuel heating and to a “world-leading” energy efficiency standard by 2025. Rumours had circulated in the build up to the statement that a proposal with similarities to the abandoned Zero Carbon Homes standard was to be unveiled, attracting ire from an industry which has repeatedly rounded on the government’s 2015 decision to cancel the policy. The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s emissions watchdog, has repeatedly called for more action to tackle carbon reduction in the built environment and yesterday welcomed the announcement, with chief executive Chris Stark saying they represented a “genuine step forward”. The domestic energy efficiency sector also, predictably, responded well to the news. Both Moixa and PassivSystems welcomed the policy, arguing it to be a step in the right direction for domestic emissions reductions. But some critiqued the chancellor’s statement for not going anywhere far enough. Maria Connolly, partner at law firm TLT, drew stark parallels between the Future Home Standard and the looming policy gap for domestic renewables, created by the closure of the feed-in tariff with no replacement scheme in place.
Solar Power Portal 14th March 2019 read more »