Boroughs encouraged to build green

London boroughs are to receive a report offering support and advice on how to meet targets to build zero carbon developments within their boundaries.

In the London Plan the Mayor Ken Livingstone has said he would like to see at least one new development in each borough that has net carbon emissions of zero by 2010.

The London Energy Partnership has commissioned a report to help meet this goal, Towards Zero Carbon Developments which was launched by the Mayor at renewable energy company Solarcentury on Thursday.

The report offers a detailed definition of what does, and what does not, qualify as a zero carbon development as well as giving case studies which outline the successes and failures of previous green building projects in the capital.

“This summer people who up until now haven’t thought global warming was going to be a real problem for them and climate change was being overstated have recognised our weather is changing, and it’s only going to get worse, not better,” said Mr Livingstone.

“Therefore when my new housing powers kick in I want to make sure we set new standards for trying to achieve carbon neutral developments.”

Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Solarcentury, welcomed the report, saying: “We really hope to to play a role in the vanguard of the solar revolution that’s coming. Much of that depends on leadership – we have no leadership from central Government but it is coming from the cities and borough, particularly from London.

“This vision is much more feasible than most people realise…and it is environmentally and economically imperative that we achieve it.”

Mr Livingstone told edie: “Over the next year or two we want [zero carbon developments] to come to every borough.

“When we set the 10% renewable targets people thought we’d struggle to achieve that. Now we have achieved that and we’re consulting on the London Plan to set a 20% target (see related story).

The Mayor added that numerous strategic developments had been considered by his office that either included, or had the potential for, low carbon element but this was a drop in the ocean compared to those which planning departments across the capital dealt with on a daily basis.

“There are thousands more smaller schemes that never come anywhere near our office and we want to make sure that within each borough there’s somebody working in the planning department on energy,” he said.

Mr Leggett told edie that making significant cuts to carbon emissions from buildings was well within most people’s grasp.

“People don’t generally realise how relatively easy to get to these low carbon targets, particularly if you get in at the development stage,” he said.

Even with existing housing stock it did not have to be difficult or expensive, he argued, saying the average home gives pumps out about six tonnes of carbon a year and reducing that to two was fairly straightforward.

“You can save the first two tonnes of that and make money on that easily with insulation and a lot of energy efficiency,” he said. “The third tonne you can do with lightbulbs and energy efficient appliances.

“The fourth can come with micro-renewable power very easily – it’s just so immediately doable, but people don’t generally realise and that can be frustrating.”

As well as the obvious environmental benefits, there were sound financial reasons to go green at home, said the Mayor.

“If you look at what’s been happening, even excluding the crisis in the Middle East, the pressure of the emerging economies means energy prices will continue to increase in real terms for the rest of our lives,” he said.

“Anyone looking to buy a new home can start to make the calculations on the savings they will make if they put this in at the start. The price of gas, oil and coal will continue to rise.

“The gap between renewables and traditional energy will increase.”

Sam Bond

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