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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.

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    • CommentTimeFeb 20th 2007
    I just read that the HIPs scheme including complusory Energy Rating reports on all houses offered for sale, is due to begin this June. It was scheduled for last year but was scandalously dropped by the govt, after many of the new breed of HIPs/Energy assessors had spent good money getting trained. Now it seems it's back - or is this a false report?

    Such Energy Rating is reqd by EC, not only for houses offered for sale, but for rent too. Because our govt has dragged its heels on the former, and hasn't even begun on the latter, the EC is now prosecuting UK. It's also reqd for commercial and public buildings and UK has indeed got that going, and is expected to reduce the floor area threshold progressively. Certificates will shortly be displayed in hotel lobbys, office receptions etc.

    This is extremely important and promises to be far more effective than Building Regs, Kyoto etc, in creating widespread energy measures. Once Middle England gets familiar with these bits of paper that certify just how many £10k's this house is going to cost to heat over a medium term, compared with that one, then the extra-over will get knocked off houses' values. The more so, as fuel prices go up. The world system has somehow managed to get fuel prices back down again, since Katrina, so business-as-usual can continue - but for how long? Maybe next winter the Russians will turn the screw, just as the journalists begin to realise what Energy Reporting could mean to Middle England's pockets. It's amazing how last year's wacky idea becomes this year's conventional wisdom, once it hits the Mail's personal finance pages.

    Given rising fuel prices, the effect will be a 2-tier property market. The very highest rated buildings, domestic or commercial/public, home-owned or rented, will rise strongly in value, compared to the average to low, which will level off or drop in value. The best will continue to rise even, or particularly, in the inevitable, well-overdue property slump. The worst will become unsaleable at any more than site value. There will be a new negative-equity crisis, and the underclass will be saddled with the low-value housing that's impossible to heat without subsidy. Values won't so much reflect the current Energy Rating, but the building's potential energy-improvability, which is at present not so obvious as a criterion. I'm advising my clients to get shot of their houses while the going's good, if it doesn't seem readily improveabvle, and buy something that is.

    What does the team think?
    • CommentAuthorKit
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2007
    The energy rating will only be a proportion of the running cost of a property.
    Much depends on the reasons for buying in the first place.
    If you want a period stone built property rather than a new build then the extra cost of heating may be incidental to the other reasons for purchase - aesthetics, character etc.
    Also location is always a decider - a more expensive to heat home in the desired/desirable location will always sell better than an economically heated home in an inferior location.
    To parphrase Mark Twain, "buy land, it isn't made anymore". In other words there are many reasons for buying a property and energy rating will only be a small part of the decision process. If you buy a £500K home the energy cost is a much smaller proportion than that of a £175K property.
    The cost of heating a property will only be a significant decider when it is proportionately several orders of magnitude higher than at present.
    Anyway global warming will offset the extra cost per unit of heat, by displacing that heat input in the first place due to reducing deltaT.:wink:
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2007
    >global warming will offset the extra cost per unit of heat, by displacing that heat input in the first place due to reducing deltaT<
    I wonder, maybe so.
    It's heating-season degree-days that count. How is that expected to change - anyone know?
    Against that, it's going to be more windy, wintertime, isn't it? That means more wind-chill and more airchange. Also wetter, so more evaporative cooling.

    All those value factors apply now; I'm saying there's a new and additional factor coming in, which will have an effect on top of (not swamped by) the existing ones, for better or worse. In fact, the biggest hit, proportionately, will be on the value of not-so-desirable properties whose base value isn't jacked up by other factors.

    This adds up to a new opportunity for property developers (that includes anyone doing up their own home and looking at its resultant value). Whereas at present it's generally true that there's no great profit in buying cheap/improving/selling quick an existing single house (or flat), this limitation will change when figuring in the potential great value uplift resulting from creating a top-energy-rated unit for sale.
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2007
    So does anyone have any view on HIPs/Energy Ratings? Apart from the Estate agents who are afraid it will hit their business?
    • CommentAuthorGuest
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2007
    I don't think energy labels on their own will change much, at least in the private domestic sector, but could if reinforced with regulations, eg: that an EPC’s list of recommended energy-saving measures be made compulsory minimum requirements before the sale of any property. I conducted a survey for my thesis last year and around 30% of respondents from Area X agreed with this suggestion. A further 43% of respondents agreed with this proposal but thought that it would be fairer if subsidised by the state.
    I think the energy ratings are a good idea but I have no confidence that they will be implemented effectively and assessed fairly. HIPs are a mess and will do nothing to help speed up transactions. Searches are out of date after 3 months. My house has been on the market for 2 months already and I've had no viewings. If HIPs were in place I'd be looking at forking out for more searches in 4 weeks time - just what I need. The energy certificates could have been tacked onto the mortgage valuation reports and surveys.
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2007
    Posted By: GuestI don't think energy labels on their own will change much, at least in the private domestic sector, but could if reinforced with regulations, eg: that an EPC’s list of recommended energy-saving measures be made compulsory minimum requirements before the sale of any property. I conducted a survey for my thesis last year and around 30% of respondents from Area X agreed with this suggestion. A further 43% of respondents agreed with this proposal but thought that it would be fairer if subsidised by the state.

    The problem with this approach is that if you are selling a property for modernisation or even demolition you are going to have insulate it first.

    Tacking the EPC on to mortgage surveys wll not work either as these are not a legal requirement and not everyone takes out a mortgage to purchase a property.

    I think the approach of EPC's and building regs on upgrades is a good one. But to really kick things off energy saving measures should either be grant aided or tax deductible against income tax.
    • CommentAuthorGuest
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2007
    Most enenrgy efficient measures are grant aided, ie loft and cavity insulation, most borough councils or utility suppliers will give some aid. The trouble is they are just not promoted sufficiently by govt.

    Hopefully this and govt grant provisions for renewable energy systems will change if govt agrees to sign us up for 20% of energy from renewables by 2020. The £500,000 Grant aid for domestic home owners wiling to invest in renewable energy was eaten up in 70 minutes this month! Ridiculous, govt needs to intervene now to change this ridiculous situation.
    • CommentAuthorGuest
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2007
    I agree with carrots rather than sticks at this stage and phase in the regs on upgrades whilst building up a comprehensive database of the existing stocks EP over the next 10-15 years or so as properties change hands. Then prescriptive measures could be demanded from the real worst performing stock
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2007 edited
    These look like a pig in a poke. A friend who has been trained to assess has just done a trial assessment on my home, (probably one of the greenest, low budget renovations in the UK) and he seems only able to award the home with the lowest energy rating! It would appear from the little info I have so far, that the system dislikes the idea of wood burning especially coupled with underfloor heating.

    Having seen and tried to answer the questions on the forms, I can only assume it was drafted by baboons at the zoo!

    Is that me being too rude?
    • CommentAuthorTerry
    • CommentTimeJul 29th 2007
    Sadly probably not far from the truth Keith.
    If you take a slightly extreme view on the short to medium term changes that could occur due to increasing energy costs, I think that most sensible people will not be concerning themselves with bits of paper, but rather looking at the real practical issues. Mind you all that paperwork would probably heat your house for a few months :bigsmile:
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2007
    Are we surprised that the criteria are rubbish at the outset? It's like VAT relief incentivising alterations to Listed Buildings, and Road Tax relief on cars over 25yrs old. Civil Servants spend 99.5% of their energy on national and internal politics, 0.5% on content of what they draft. Some minion becomes vaguely aware of some pressure group that's been campaigning for reform for years, and at the last minute throws a sop into the legislation, but inevitably gets it wrong. Energy issues still just aren't part of the world of politicians - that's why you hear them saying what we need is more "solar panelling" - what on earth do they think that means? - answer, they, above all, don't know what it means.

    So let's make lots of noise about the present shortcomings - Energy Rating is definitely here to stay, if only because of EC edict. Fuel prices are definitely at last on an irreversible, accelerating climb, Middle England will soon begin to feel the pain of its fuel bills and will at last take real action to reduce same, which will include shopping for low-energy houses (and business premises), and will demand realistic info at point-of-purchase. So Energy rating will shortly become a vital, indispensable part of life, and they'll all forget how they badmouthed it at the begining.
    • CommentAuthorken davis
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2007
    fostertom, i am very impressed with you knowledge and balanced approach to the topic, see my comments under domestic energy certificates (building regs.). the software is designed to deal with the vast majority of 'normal' houses in this country i.e the worst ones, and not wacky ones like keiths! it will take 10 years for a substantial database to be constucted and the software to be developed to take account of a wide range of variations. the main role of DECs in the interim will be about building general public awareness. the main point that i made in my earlier comments is that people carrying out their own improvements will now need to keep arecord of what they have done because the inspector can only survey/record what he sees and/or has evidence for. i will be doing some assessments for real soon so will report back in due course on how it goes.
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2007
    It ought to become possible to pay a real expert to carry out a full energy assessment, and this be offered as the Energy Rating in lieu of the normal ticksheet.
    • CommentAuthorken davis
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2007
    'real expert' ( very expensive for a single household) or not, an energy assessment just looking at volume, construction, plant etc will never mean much without a pressure test and i can not see that being feasible on most old buildings.
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2007
    An all-encompassing assessment, such as a consultant would do when advising the Architect in process of seriously upgrading a building, incl. pressure test, will become well worth it, if it proves the building's very low, zero or even negative energy - because as fuel prices skyrocket, such a building, if proveable, will begin to acquire a really significant capital value premium. You wouldn't think of pressure testing any building, new or old, unless confident that airtightness measures taken would result in a good report. In any such upgraded building, the data may already exist, and just need putting into report form.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2007
    How do you know my house is whacky Ken?

    I foresee these energy certificates as a charter for demolition of old traditional buildings in favour of egg boxes and a charter for gas and nuclear energy (via heat pump systems) over saving energy and being frugal.
    I think what the public need is good quality advice without having to fork out hundreds of pounds to "experts" and deal with more red tape. The energy efficiency of a property can be easily and cheaply assessed by obtaining copies of recent utility bills during the conveyancing process. Higher energy prices will provide the incentive to improve the energy efficiency of our properties.

    Forums like this one are a good resource for the public. Why doesn't the government commission someone who knows what they are talking about to set up a website on energy efficiency improvements with some real content on it, i.e. advice, diagrams, recommendations on materials, photos, case studies, pay back periods etc? The advice you will get from the average DEA will be mostly common sense and could be obtained by the householder from such a resource.
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