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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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  1.  
    Announcement today that UK will adopt the CCC's carbon budget of 78% decarbonisation by 2035. But will not adopt all the CCC's policy recommendations of how to get there, sounds like the diet changes are off the list.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-enshrines-new-target-in-law-to-slash-emissions-by-78-by-2035

    The CCC recommended:

    "1 By the early 2030s all new cars and vans and all boiler replacements in homes and other buildings are low-carbon – largely electric. By 2040 all new trucks are low-carbon. UK industry shifts to using renewable electricity or hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, or captures its carbon emissions,

    "2 UK electricity production is zero carbon by 2035. Offshore wind becomes the backbone of the whole UK energy system.... New uses for this clean electricity are found in transport, heating and industry, pushing up electricity demand by a half over the next 15 years, and doubling or even trebling demand by 2050. Low-carbon hydrogen scales-up to be almost as large, in 2050, as electricity production is today. Hydrogen is used as a shipping and transport fuel and in industry, and potentially in some buildings,

    "3 The UK wastes fewer resources and reduces its reliance on high-carbon goods. Buildings lose less energy through a national programme to improve insulation across the UK. Diets change, reducing our consumption of high-carbon meat and dairy products by 20% by 2030, with further reductions in later years. There are fewer car miles travelled and demand for flights grows more slowly.

    "4 By 2035, 460,000 hectares of new mixed woodland are planted to remove CO2 and deliver wider environmental benefits. 260,000 hectares of farmland shifts to producing energy crops. Woodland rises from 13% of UK land today to 15% by 2035 and 18% by 2050. Peatlands are widely restored and managed sustainably"
    https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/


    Sounds good, can it be done?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2021
     
    460,00ha = 1,776sq mi = 42mi x 42mi - the size of Dartmoor, in 13yrs. UK total area 94,000sq mi, so yes that's 1.8% woodland rise. Not sure whether impressed, or the reverse.

    No mention of local micro grids largely or completely autonomous, based on expected super-cheaper non-silicon PV painted or rolled out on householders' surfaces
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2021 edited
     
    Of course it's possible, and it would have been difficult to reject all of the CCC's recommendations. But where is the action plan and the cash?

    So far they seem to be saying one thing and doing the opposite. Scrapping the Green Homes grant, issuing new licenses for North Sea oil and gas exploration, allowing a coal mine (well, maybe not after the international reaction), continuing to allow the sale of peat, road expansion plans, freezing fuel duty, cutting electric car subsidies, above-inflation railway ticket rises, failing to meet their own tree-planting targets, helping Mathias Cormann become OECD boss (he considered Australia's zero-carbon target "extremist and irresponsible"), and the The National Audit Office projecting that the UK will miss its climate change targets from 2023 to 2032...
    • CommentAuthoran02ew
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2021
     
    No mention of tidal? 24,7,365 power and plenty of coastline in the UK, wheres the downside?
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2021
     
    Tidal stream projects are ongoing but I dont know to what extent nationally, see Orbital Marine Orkney. Although easily predicatable, these arent 24/7 generators. I think the EU gave a €50m grant last year for tidal stream developement work off the north west coast of France.

    Barrages seem to have quite an extensive impact on wildlife and I think there are big engineering challenges especially in exposed locations with possible climate uncertainty.
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2021
     
    I've just read the methodology document published by the CCC and I find myself rather disappointed and dubious. A lot of ifs, buts, uncertainties and assumptions together with what I've experienced much of my professional life - overly optimistic business and market forecasting, even when they say they've been conservative. The methodology spends a lot of time looking at surface transport, but very much skims over home energy, especially home retrofit of insulation. I also think they've got their sums wrong, underestimating retrofit/boiler replacement costs.

    They've considered several 'pathways' to hedge their bets and it does seem like the preference leans towards using heatpump technical rather than hydrogen for home heating.This is however part of a 'tailwind' assumption relying everything going swimmingly well, technology advancement and lots of public behaviour change. Their headwind assumption means relying quite heavily on hydrogen for heating.

    One of my other questions is that when I look at the makeup of the committee, there is one commercial organisation with a representative - Drax. Isn't this a little bit odd?

    Another curious point is that in the methodology report, its fair weather assumption is a cessation of ICE vehicle sales by 2032, ahead of a target date of 2035, which seems rather contrary to recent changes announcement by the government.

    Like Mike1 says, it could be done but there needs to be a lot more meat to the bones on this together with some consistent long-term supporting policy.
    • CommentAuthorCliff Pope
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2021
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: SimonD</cite> there needs to be a lot more meat to the bones .</blockquote>


    Aren't they trying to reduce meat consumption? :)
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2021 edited
     
    Aren't they trying to reduce meat consumption? :)
    Apparently not!

    "Our published analysis is based on the government’s own assumptions and does not, for example, assume the CCC’s change in people’s diet."
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2021
     
    Posted By: Cliff Pope
    Posted By: SimonD there needs to be a lot more meat to the bones .



    Aren't they trying to reduce meat consumption? :)


    :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2021
     
    There's been some conversation about this on the Conversation website recently. Lots of doom mungering but some very valid points. These might be of interest here:

    UK target to cut emissions 78% by 2035 is world-leading – but to hit it, action is needed now
    https://theconversation.com/uk-target-to-cut-emissions-78-by-2035-is-world-leading-but-to-hit-it-action-is-needed-now-159398

    Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap:
    https://theconversation.com/climate-scientists-concept-of-net-zero-is-a-dangerous-trap-157368

    There aren’t enough trees in the world to offset society’s carbon emissions – and there never will be
    https://theconversation.com/there-arent-enough-trees-in-the-world-to-offset-societys-carbon-emissions-and-there-never-will-be-158181
  2.  
    Posted By: Cliff Pope
    Posted By: SimonD there needs to be a lot more meat to the bones .



    Aren't they trying to reduce meat consumption? :)


    Think they have finally realised grassland farming is a better solution than planting trees.
  3.  
    Posted By: renewablejohn
    Posted By: Cliff Pope
    Posted By: SimonDthere needs to be a lot more meat to the bones .



    Aren't they trying to reduce meat consumption? :)


    Think they have finally realised grassland farming is a better solution than planting trees.

    Yes but IMO the problem lies with intensive animal production where animals are housed or otherwise confined and fed a diet predominately comprising cereal products. Extensively farmed grazing stock has a much lower impact and are typically kept on land that is unsuitable for arable crops.

    My beef herd is outside all year, never gets any cereal and is on land unsuitable for anything other than pasture. This method can not be equated to the modern beef breeds that are housed/confined and fed a cereal based diet. OK my beef takes 2 - 3 years to get to market weight and has less meat than the modern breeds that can go to market in half that time on high value feed. (value in both monetary and calorific terms)
  4.  
    Posted By: Peter_in_Hungary
    Posted By: renewablejohn
    Posted By: Cliff Pope
    Posted By: SimonDthere needs to be a lot more meat to the bones .



    Aren't they trying to reduce meat consumption? :)


    Think they have finally realised grassland farming is a better solution than planting trees.

    Yes but IMO the problem lies with intensive animal production where animals are housed or otherwise confined and fed a diet predominately comprising cereal products. Extensively farmed grazing stock has a much lower impact and are typically kept on land that is unsuitable for arable crops.

    My beef herd is outside all year, never gets any cereal and is on land unsuitable for anything other than pasture. This method can not be equated to the modern beef breeds that are housed/confined and fed a cereal based diet. OK my beef takes 2 - 3 years to get to market weight and has less meat than the modern breeds that can go to market in half that time on high value feed. (value in both monetary and calorific terms)


    This is the problem the American farm lot intensive system is not sustainable and has never been but the worst of farming practices is being used to dictate farm policy whereas in the UK the pasture method has always been sustainable and actually reduces emmissions not increases them.
  5.  
    Thought this was a striking picture from the supporting documentation - forecast of grid intensity, dropping close to zero in not much more than a decade from now.

    I'm finding this quite thought provoking as it challenges much of what I think about energy and the environment.
    What is the point of insulation, and stressing about energy-efficiency, if using a lot of energy no longer has an environmental impact? When we think about buildings with a lifetime of a hundred years, how many of the design
    tradeoffs should focus on energy-saving during the first decade, possibly at the expense of usability (hence sustainability) in the next nine decades?

    The CCC make the point that the low intensity can only be achieved in the first place, if demand for electricity is kept under control by efficiency measures, but how will that look to the householder who is asked to retrofit to avoid increasingly-harmless energy production?
      Screenshot_20210420-231522.png
  6.  
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenI'm finding this quite thought provoking as it challenges much of what I think about energy and the environment.
    What is the point of insulation, and stressing about energy-efficiency, if using a lot of energy no longer has an environmental impact? When we think about buildings with a lifetime of a hundred years, how many of the design
    tradeoffs should focus on energy-saving during the first decade, possibly at the expense of usability (hence sustainability) in the next nine decades?

    Low / no carbon energy (electricity) does not mean low / no cost energy so the emphasis will be on cost effective buildings and the ROI of any retrofit - and I would argue that most people already look at the cost effectiveness and ROI of any upgrade or retrofit first before the environmental impact of the proposed works.
  7.  
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenWhat is the point of insulation, and stressing about energy-efficiency, if using a lot of energy no longer has an environmental impact?


    As I understand it, the problem with this thinking is that whilst the grid is decarbonising we're also using it a lot more because more things are electrifying (cars, space heating etc.) so the demand side is increasing too.

    This means peak loads will get greater and grid operators may be forced to fall back on higher-carbon fuel sources during these periods because there is a finite capacity for renewable energy.

    Add in the seasonal imbalance with renewables and unless we have some sort of long-term storage (unlikely in the near future), the efforts so far may still result in an upward tick in carbon intensity again.

    I agree with you that it's going to be a harder sell to home-owners though. Hence the recent shift in focus towards the comfort factor associated with draught-sealing and avoiding heat loss/imbalance. It's not just about bills.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2021
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenWhat is the point of insulation, and stressing about energy-efficiency, if using a lot of energy no longer has an environmental impact?

    Twofold:
    (1) just because it has no carbon cost doesn't mean it doesn't have an economic cost
    (2) if you consider the present peak electricity demand and the present peak gas demand, it's obvious that the gas demand is much, much bigger (even neglecting other fossil fuels). So it's somewhat problematic tosee how to fulfil that demand with additional electrical generating capacity

    i.e. what the CCC says.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2021
     
    The grid hasn't really got to zero carbon until the whole energy supply has as so much of its infrastructure is still built from carbon-intense materials. While wind turbines are made from steel with high embodied emissions there's still a trade-off to be made against the embodied carbon in insulation.

    Even when the whole energy supply is zero carbon there's still going to be a monetary cost trade off. Do you insulate more or do you put another wind turbine in the North Sea.
  8.  
    Absolutely.

    Retrofit insulation is not economic at present energy prices (beyond basic loft roll, CWI and draught proofing) which is why not many people are doing it now, and why government grant schemes are required.

    The CCC consider that most electricity will come from offshore wind and solar, which will continue to get cheaper than they were, they considered scenarios that renewable prices fall by 30ish% or 60ish% by 2050.

    They also considered that firm power will be needed (for peaks, and calm weather) which will come from gas-with-carbon-capture or nuclear or possibly hydrogen or biomass-carbon-capture. Costs for these new technologies will be high, eg similar to the Hinkley point price deal.

    Overall the electricity system cost will be similar or cheaper than today.

    I read this that energy will be cheaper if you are not choosy about what time you use it. So without legislation or subsidy, there won't be more retrofit insulation than today.

    (Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.!)
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2021
     
    I forgot one specific point:
    (3) we don't have anywhere near the materials needed for the quantity of batteries anticipated, nor visibility of where/how they might be obtained, especially without a huge carbon cost
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeen

    The CCC consider that most electricity will come from offshore wind and solar, which will continue to get cheaper than they were, they considered scenarios that renewable prices fall by 30ish% or 60ish% by 2050.

    I read this that energy will be cheaper if you are not choosy about what time you use it. So without legislation or subsidy, there won't be more retrofit insulation than today.

    (Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.!)


    I think you've got to be careful here. Looking at the methodology, on the CCC's 'Balance Pathway' electricity costs to the residential customer user reduce only from just under 10p/Kwh to just over 8p, this apparently includes wholesale energy and network costs (first, I'm not sure who currently pays under 10p/Kwh for home electricity anywhere in the UK? - I'd love to know). If you take their scenario that depends on widespread innovation, elec. prices reduce to under 6p/Kwh by 2050. The problem is that this relies on technology not invented, tested, or scaled up.

    According to their figures, 'Low-carbon' hydrogen costs on 'balanced pathway' become on a par with electricity costs about 2030. Really?

    The other part of this is their methodology appears to be all mixed up. In some instances they consider life-cycle costs, but it seems in most it is limited to life-time costs which obviously only shows us part of the picture.
  9.  
    AIUI, wholesale energy and network costs are only about 60% of the consumer bill. The rest covers the utility co's marketing and admin costs and profits, and addons such as FITs ECO VAT smartmeters etc. So those figures kind of make sense, I guess, and are consistent with a small 2p reduction over time. Probably that masks a lot of hour-to-hour volatility.

    They seem to assume medium term storage by hydrogen rather than batteries, maybe thinking same as DJH. Batteries for short term storage (hours).

    'Low carbon' hydrogen is apparently made from natural gas with CCS. The gas is cheap, the CCS not yet...!

    I can't see how 'zero carbon' hydrogen could be cheaper than electricity, as it uses more than 1 unit of renewable electricity to make 1 of hydrogen by electrolysis. Unless it was limited to using 'waste' electricity which the market could not absorb at that time, but then the capital costs of a lightly-used electrolyzer and pipeline would be quite high. They do say that electrolysis is a carbon-inefficient use of renewable electricity, better to use it to recharge EVs or run heatpumps if possible.

    Agree there's probably lots of devils lurking in the details.
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