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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

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      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021
     
    Correct, so two things are happening - real wages will rise, after 45yrs of stasis or decline - and automation, robotisation, mechanisation, call it what you will, will resume. Johnson's already changed the story to a high-wage economy, from previously seeing UK's niche as Europe's low-wage low-regulation offshore facility. At the large-buildings end, the building industry is already headed that way, from being almost as intractably un-automatable as Care work. At the small/domestic retrofit end, we'll see a lot more of things like Energiesprong. A committed major retrofit programme will look like anything but an extrapolation of todays small-building world.
  1.  
    Previous governments used FITs to get an industry set up, installing solar panels and wind turbines, which the country needed. The owners were promised payments well above the prevailing market price for electricity, to be paid for by future generations of electricity consumers who all benefit from their electricity being greener.

    That's good and it looks and feels just like the government borrowing money to fund a much-needed national improvement, to be paid for by future generations of taxpayers. Except by doing it through FIT charges on electricity bills instead of taxation, it hasn't been subject to annual parliamentary budget scrutiny, has been a much more expensive way to pay for than recent public borrowing, has been anti-progressive when you look who benefitted and who's paying for it, and paying off the obligations is price-signaling people off switching from gas to electricity. And it's open to loopholes such as the deemed export payment, and it's inefficient to have electricity companies process it in parallel to HMRC collecting taxes.... Apart from that, it's great!

    Fortunately the RHI and schemes such as Green Home Grant are now paid out of public funds (ie taxes, borrowing or printing) rather than being loaded onto higher energy bills.

    Edit for clarity: I'm in favour of subsidising solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, insulation, EVs, etc, and thank you to everyone who installed them. I'd prefer it to be a straightforward bung from taxpayers rather than the way FITs was funded.
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      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021
     
    djh prefers retrofit to be paid for via elect bills, incl payments back to the needy, rather than via his taxes.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021
     
    Posted By: djh Yes I'm referring to my newbuild, but specifically to the cost of building to PH rather than building regs, (not the whole thing!) which I think is relevant.
    Personally i think that marginal extra you paid would fade into utter insignificance compared to the cost of retrofit.

    Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of pounds is not the sort of cost most people can afford to fix a house that 99% of homeowners otherwise would view as perfectly fine.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertomCorrect, so two things are happening - real wages will rise, after 45yrs of stasis or decline
    In construction, there haven't been 45 years of stasis or decline. There have been periodic upswings in wages as the labour market tightens - like now - and downswings as the market contracted and thousands lost their jobs. And construction tends to suffer from the swings more than most sectors, as a lot of it is 'discretionary' spending. That's likely to continue to be the case.

    Posted By: fostertomautomation, robotisation, mechanisation, call it what you will, will resume.
    It needs to, as it barely moved on from the invention of the JCB - productivity in construction has been more-or-less flat since at least 1970.
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/productivitymeasures/articles/productivityintheconstructionindustryuk2021/2021-10-19

    Posted By: fostertomJohnson's already changed the story to a high-wage economy
    I'll believe that when it turns from a story into a sustainable reality.

    Sustainable high wage economies arise from high productivity, not labour shortages. Continued wage rises without productivity increases tend to drive inflation instead, eventually negating the wage rises - and, of course, making the situation worse for those who don't get the pay rises in the first place (including most of the public sector, at the moment).
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      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021
     
    Posted By: fostertomdjh prefers retrofit to be paid for via elect bills, incl payments back to the needy, rather than via his taxes.

    Correct. What we need to do is to reduce energy consumption, and motivate that reduction (along with reducing all consumption) so I'm sticking to my position that carbon taxes are the way to go.
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      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021
     
    Posted By: gravelldPersonally i think that marginal extra you paid would fade into utter insignificance compared to the cost of retrofit.

    I agree, which is why I'm in favour of mandating building everything to PH or equivalent (tested, audited equivalent!)

    Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of pounds is not the sort of cost most people can afford to fix a house that 99% of homeowners otherwise would view as perfectly fine.

    They won't think it's perfectly fine if the cost of energy is increased sufficiently. And if it's going to cost 'hundreds of thousands' then I'd suggest knocking it down and starting again (and yes I am conscious of the carbon emission arguments).
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021
     
    Depends on the target but a large house will easily cost 100k. Just the windows could be 40-50. But to rebuild it will also cost a lot, and gawd knows it's difficult to convince people to EWI their precious Victorian terraces let alone convince them to demolish.
  2.  
    How many houses does the UK build each year? If we started knocking down even the worst 10% of the housing stock, how many years would it take to replace them?

    (Rhetorical questions, I do have those figures!)

    Carbon tax on domestic gas and heating oil would be a good idea. There's already ETS on the CCGT portion of the electricity supply, recently gone up to a meaningful price...

    Edit... of £67/tonne today. If that were added to domestic gas it would put up the price by 1.4p/kWh, or an extra £168 each year for the standardised household. Bit of a nudge, but not going to get people rushing for EWI...
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      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: Mike1Sustainable high wage economies arise from high productivity, not labour shortages
    True, but it sure helps to kickstart that if labour becomes scarce, as now. Not just the shortage, but bid-up wages, both get employers and investors thinking of robots once more, instead of being flooded with too-cheap-to-resist human robot-substitutes worldwide, as successive countries added their workforce into the world economy. Productivity has stagnated because labour's been so cheap, no incentive to invest so's to use less of it.

    Even though there's insufficient workforce to maintain, let alone expand the present labour-intensive economy, nevertheless everything points to a long-postponed upswing in productivity, producing more with less labour and releasing labour to be trained for 'new' future-looking industries like mass-retrofit. So, despite little immediate unused capacity, the time is ripe for debt-free MagicMoneyTree spending, if carefully paced, designed and aimed, to lubricate that potential.

    Pity Rishi won't have it, as he's about the only grown-up in govt capable of such careful steering.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertomProductivity has stagnated because labour's been so cheap, no incentive to invest so's to use less of it.
    Lack of investment has certainly been a problem, but it's far from certain that cheap wages have been the main cause. I seem to recall that much of the productivity rise that has taken place in the UK has been attributed to new direct foreign investment, while existing UK businesses have tended not to invest.

    It would be interesting to know to what extent that results from poor management, short-termism, the banking sector's preference for gambling rather than investing, the lack of investment in education & training, or indeed the previous ready availability of labour. That may become clearer over the next few years, but the track record isn't good.
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      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTime7 days ago
     
    Non-investment in robots/automation and productivity generally, is counter to the very strong trend worldwide. Even those new-on-the-world-stage cheap-workforce countries are moving on to robotisation - particularly China. It takes a government absolutely determined to create a low-wage low-regulation offshore facility, to resist that trend.

    Robotisation is a major cause of China-cheap goods and very many kinds of services which have very little labour content nowadays. That leaves those kinds of industries and services which can't be robotised (so far) and still have to employ people, such as Care, Education - and the building industry (so far) - which consequently become steeply more expensive relative to most goods and services.
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      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTime1 day ago edited
     
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/01/uk-green-homes-scheme-was-slam-dunk-fail-says-public-accounts-committee

    “We heard it can take 48 months – four years – to train the specialists required to implement key parts of a scheme that was dreamed up to be rolled out in 12 weeks. It was never going to work at this time, in this way, and that should have been blindingly obvious to the department."

    Posted By: fostertomIn the case of a MagicMoneyTree-financed programme of housing retrofit, that would need to be paced very carefully, financing first the training of a body of trainers, then the training of a workforce, with finance to actually carry out retrofits only as skills and materials become available.

    Anything but the present history of, indeed, handing out cash, after expensive bureacratic qualification, in the absence of training and supply chain, enriching the financial intermediaries and massively inflating the cost of the work

    I'd say, don't blame the department - I'm sure the pros there knew very well that this was just one more of UK's succession of hopeless housing retrofit schemes. They wearily roll out yet another, ordered by the politicians, throwing indigestible money at a quick vote-catcher.

    Posted By: fostertomJohnson's already changed the story to a high-wage economy, from previously seeing UK's niche as Europe's low-wage low-regulation offshore facility. At the large-buildings end, the building industry is already headed that way, from being almost as intractably un-automatable as Care work. At the small/domestic retrofit end, we'll see a lot more of things like Energiesprong. A committed major retrofit programme will look like anything but an extrapolation of todays small-building world.
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