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UK will need to refurbish ‘1.4 homes per minute’ until 2050

More than one home every minute will need to be refurbished in the UK between now and 2050, according to a report from the UK Green Building Council.
That means 25m homes need refurbishing to the highest standards by 2050 – at a rate of 1.4 homes every minute.
The authors say this huge challenge also offers an opportunity under the government’s infrastructure agenda. Insulating roofs, walls and floors creates more jobs and has more benefits than any existing infrastructure priority, they maintain.

The report recommends:

• setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings;

• reintroducing the “zero-carbon” standard for buildings from 2020;

• recognising energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority;

• setting long-term trajectories for ratcheting up home energy standards; and

• obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use.

It says the construction industry needs certainty about what it is expected to deliver, and measurement to discover what is already being built.
Julie Hirigoyen, head of the UK-GBC, told BBC News there was a great prize to be grasped in upgrading building stock: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.
“We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”
Tassos Kougionis, principal consultant – residential, at BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group, said: “It is true that the existing housing stock in the UK suffers from low energy efficiency, along with other inherited issued. This not only creates social implications, as in the case of fuel poverty, environmental issues and high carbon emissions, but also affects the health and well-being of the people living in these properties.

The UK-GBC announcement comes hot on the heels of Government’s Housing White Paper, which sets out the Government’s preferred approach in tackling the country’s housing crisis focusing mainly on the delivery of higher volumes of new homes. However, BSRIA believes that the new homes of today will be the retrofits of the future, so it is important to consider resilient new home designs and take into account the buildings’ expected lifecycle. Preventing new homes from facing similar issues in the future will require a good feedback loop being introduced as well as quality standards to be set.

Source: Energyzine

Sizing up energy savings can be done in the water heating market

Developments in water heater sizing methods have allowed energy managers to maximise cost and energy savings. Chris Meir of Andrews Water Heaters gives his top tips for choosing the right product.

When selecting a hot water system for any commercial building, accurate sizing is extremely important. Finding out what the customer’s hot water needs are will ensure that any plant purchased will meet their expectations and demands.

Traditionally, water heaters were selected based on the demand of the building they would be installed in, with the flow rate calculated based on ‘demand units’, i.e. basins, showers, baths etc. There wasn’t as much diversity in system specification as there is now and many systems were oversized.

However, oversized systems are problematic, even if end users don’t realise it. The capital outlay is greater on larger plant, more energy is used in operation, and, if the demand for hot water is not there, it will cost the end user more in energy bills. This is all before we consider that larger plant takes up more space, and can therefore hamper installation.

Andrews Water Heaters saw the issue of oversizing in the industry and recognised the need for a handy tool which could accurately size products. The Size-it tool, first launched 20 years ago, is based on information from the CIBSE Public Health & Plumbing Engineering guide part G2, which states that a building’s total daily hot water usage is relevant to the assessment of the peak demand. It also recommends that a diversity factor of approximately 80 per cent should be considered, for more accurate sizing and to ensure the building is prepared should there be any uplift in peak demand.

Size-it is very simple to use tool – specifiers just input the customer’s hot water requirements and find the right products for the job, based on the property type. The sizing guide is based on a system design and a minimum temperature of 50oC, in line with the latest Building Regulations. A new and improved version of Size-it will be released this year and specifiers will be able to access it across all online devices and operating systems.

Direct gas-fired storage water heaters are a great solution for commercial premises and there are several different kinds on the market. Some have one burner, which gives them a high rate of recovery, and some have multiple burners to provide both high rates of recovery and built in redundancy. This means that each burner can work independently if the others fail, ensuring a more reliable hot water supply for end users.

With a correctly sized and correctly specified hot water system in place, it can closely meet the individual needs of the end user and runs at its maximum efficiency for energy and cost savings. But this is by no means the end of the story. To ensure a hot water system continues to run at its optimum performance, water treatment should be considered as part of a thorough maintenance programme.

The main culprit for hot water system breakdowns is lime scale. Lime scale develops more rapidly in hot water, so hot water cylinders, water heaters and calorifiers are particularly at risk. Research shows that deposits can begin forming as soon as a water heater is first installed and commissioned.

The most straightforward way of reducing lime scale is to choose water heaters with a stainless steel, low water content heat exchanger, as it is more difficult for deposits to form on the exchanger surface.

Increasing the water flow rate can also delay the build-up of limescale. As it’s very difficult to remove once its formed, the most effective solutions are based around prevention. One recommendation is to fit an electrolytic scale inhibitor. This device is attached at the point of supply to the water heater and utilises the ion exchange process to replace high levels of calcium and magnesium salts in the water with sodium salts, softening the water.

Another option would be to fit a physical water conditioner/magnetic water conditioner. This device works by using a magnetic field to alter the physical characteristics of the minerals in the water supply, preventing limescale from forming.

It’s worth remembering that silt and sludge can also collect inside a water storage tank and can cause similar issues to limescale, in terms of impaired performance and added maintenance. Periodic flushing of the system as part of a regular maintenance schedule can easily remove it, or a sediment filter can be fitted at the point of entry to stop it at the incoming water supply point.

The accurate specification and maintenance of hot water systems for commercial applications is essential to ensure any water heater can deliver a consistent supply of hot water on demand while keeping energy bills low. To ensure end users get maximum benefits, building managers must ensure water treatment is considered as a key part of the installation and ongoing maintenance recommendations so that poor water quality doesn’t let down users later down the line.

Source: Energyzine

Housing efficiency guidance released in run-up to new regulations

Real estate software provider Arbnco has released a guidance report for commercial real estate (CRE) investors and landlords to help achieve MEES compliance.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards will require properties to achieve a minimum ‘E’ rating and will apply to new leases and renewals from April 2018.

Research produced by Arbnco (formerly known as CO2 Estates) has found that the estimated 19% of properties not complying could see their capital value reduced by as much as 10 per cent with the impact on the total UK value estimated to be as much as £16.54bn.

The paper contains a five-step plan to achieving MEES compliance, which includes identifying properties with no EPC, review lease renewal dates and decide whether a new EPC is required, along with confirming that ‘at risk’ properties in the F and G brackets are really F and G by undertaking new EPCs, in order to provide accurate and dependable ratings before undertaking any retrofit works.

The research also emphasises the need to identify means of retrofitting ‘at risk’ properties to achieve an E rating or better and assess the cost of compliance, as well as reviewing the impacts of future refurbishments and planned preventative maintenance (PPM) schedules.

The need to incorporate energy efficiency improvements into retrofit and PPM schedules and update leases, tenant fit-out and dilapidations processes to allow for appropriate provisions for the landlord/owner to continue to comply with the requirements of MEES is also suggested in the study.

Pauline White, underwriting analyst at Zurich believes action now to identify at risk properties and the costs to improve them will be time and money well spent.

“Without this, the owner could end up with a property that cannot be let, potentially long term unoccupied that becomes a drain on resources instead of generating an income,” she said.

Simon West, founder of Arbnco, added: “All landlords will potentially be affected by the MEES regulations, irrespective of the size and nature of portfolios and early action is advised to mitigate the impact. Landlords and CRE investors need to acting now to alleviate the risks posed by MEES legislation ahead of the April 2018 start date.”

Arbnco will launch its Arbn Consult software platform to the consultant and EPC Assessor market from April 2017. It enables quicker and better decisions to be made on the energy performance of commercial property. The software provides the ability to quickly and accurately assess the EPC rating improvements required to ensure a property meets MEES regulatory compliance.

Source: Energyzine

Inaccurate smart meters exposed by new survey

Smart meters can provide electricity or gas consumption readings that are often seven times higher than actual levels, a new study has found.

The meters are particularly unreliable when it comes to monitoring the outputs of LEDs when they are combined with dimmers.

Tests by scientists at the Dutch University of Twente found that sixty per cent of such devices frequently considerably over-estimated the true results, often by as much as 582 per cent. In contrast, other meters that were tested habitually underestimated the true results by as much as thirty per cent.

The greatest inaccuracies were revealed when dimmers were combined with LEDs. In these cases the electricity being consumed had an erratic waveform, which the meters failed to adapt to and take into consideration when producing consumption results.

“Ever since 2009 we have known that electronic smart meters can give readings which are too low. But this is the first time we have established they can equally be much too high. We were flabbergasted by our results,” commented project lead researcher Frank Leferink.

People who no longer trust the readings from their smart meter could opt to have their accuracy levels tested, but the researchers warned that even these tests might not always be able to offer true indicators.
The experts did warn that laboratory conditions are not always indicative of home use, where alternative readings may be produced to the ones recorded in the study.

The British Government wants to see 53m smart meters installed in every home and SME in England, Scotland and Wales by 2020. To date, just over 5m have been fitted.

Source: Energyzine

‘Confusing’ energy efficiency product labels to be replaced

The European Union is to replace the current confusing A+++ to G product labels by “clearer and easier to use” A to G labels.

A database to make it easier for people to compare the relative energy efficiency of appliances will also be introduced. Such appliances are deemed responsible for almost 40 per cent of all EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Simpler labeling is expected to help consumers make even better informed purchasing choices to reduce energy use and bills, while stimulating manufacturers to innovate and invest in more efficient products. To date, operating under the ECO design directive, the UK Government reckon these policies are already saving the average UK household L67 a year, the average SME L700 p.a., and the average larger businesses some L24,000 per year.

The labels will accompany the products in printed format, and their online versions and product information will be searchable and downloadable. Lead MEP Dario Tamburrano said: “After 20 years, traditional labels for electric products will be upgraded to 2.0 version. They could contain a QR code or a link that allows citizens to access an online database: labels will become bridges to a digital universe containing all the information impossible to be noted just on paper.

“The creation of a detailed database and digital tools, like smartphone apps, will enable consumers to make immediate comparisons among the products on the market.”

The EU originally used an A to G system of labels to inform consumers of the most energy-efficient electrical appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and freezers. However, as the efficiency of such white goods improved, some manufacturers lobbied successfully for the A to G system to be augmented by new labels running for A+ to A+++. Environmentalists have argued that this approach confuses consumers and means products that are a long way short of best in class are able to retain an A or A+ label.

The EU now acknowledges that the system of A+ labels has become “misleading and hides potential substantial differences in energy performance” Polls indicate that 85 per cent of consumers look at the labels when making purchases.

The European Commission’s Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefc?ovic? says it is important the labeling system kept pace with technical improvements across the industry. “Technological innovations allow European citizens to enjoy the most advanced products on the market; it is therefore high time to bring our labeling scale up to date,” he argues. “The new labels will be empowering consumers large and small to take energy efficiency even more into account when choosing their next electric products.”

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete, added that the new labelling scheme, together with Eco-design standards that require products to reach a minimum level of energy efficiency, could save households close to €500 a year, while also increasing manufacturers and retailers’ annual revenues by over €65bn. This would save annual energy consumption equivalent to that of Italy and all the Baltic countries combined.

Significantly, the Commission said the new proposals would ‘futureproof’ the legislation by allowing for software updates to appliances, incorporating new smart devices. It would also explicitly ban the use of so-called ‘defeat devices’ similar to those used by Volkswagen in the ‘dieselgate’ scandal in order to undermine EU standards.

There remain fears that, within the UK, pressure from some UK manufacturers making less energy efficient products like vacuum cleaners and hair dryers will lead to certain energy standards being eliminated during the Brexit process.

Source: Energyzine

New district energy centre launched in north east

A ground-breaking district energy centre, launched in Gateshead, is set to cut energy bills and carbon emissions for homes and businesses.

The first of its kind and scale in the north east, the Centre houses a small but highly-efficient power station which will generate and supply low-carbon energy for thousands of homes and businesses through a new underground network of high voltage ‘private-wire’ electricity cables.

The development is capable of capturing up to 85 per cent of the waste heat created during the energy generation process, which will then be fed directly to public buildings, businesses and people’s homes. It is hoped that the energy centre and network will be able to meet all the energy needs of future developments planned for Gateshead town centre.

Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, believes that the centre is an important project which will give the area “a real cutting edge.” Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy, who recently visited the facility, believes that the project is a great example of the kind of local initiatives the Government’s new Industrial Strategy is looking to support.

Gateshead District Energy Centre uses a pair of 2MW gas-powered combined heat and power (CHP) plants to generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes, with the waste heat from the engines being recovered to provide hot water for heating.

The project has been funded by Gateshead Council, without use of grants or subsidies, and is expected to be fully self-financing, with construction and operating costs recouped over the life of the project by energy sales both locally and to the National Grid.

The council recently partnered the scheme with demand-response company Flexitricity in a £1m 15-year deal to supply electricity to the National Grid during peaks and troughs in national electricity demand.

Source: Energyzine

FEARS OF NEW 'CASH FOR RATINGS' SCANDAL

With less than a year to go to the introduction of Minimum Energy Standards there are fears that we could be heading into a ‘cash for ratings’ scandal which could seriously damage the energy assessment industry and defeat the whole object of the regulations.

Cases are coming to light of instances where it is claimed that landlords have had G rated premises – which should be unlettable from April 2018 – provided with another EPC with a much higher rating without any improvements being carried out to the buildings.

Despite past claims that thousands of domestic EPCs may be inaccurate due to ECO installers seeking ratings which would maximise installations revenue, it is not clear at present that accreditation bodies have procedures in place which would prevent a comparable scandal in the run-up to the introduction of MEES.

However leading accreditation body Elmhurst Energy said it would take a strong stand over the issue, and remind assessors that they might not be insured if certificates were deliberately inaccurate, and they could be struck off. We asked other assessor accreditation bodies for their response but none of them have replied at present.

Elmhurst told us: “Elmhurst Energy do not condone any kind of fraudulent behaviour and we are taking this particular issue in the commercial sector very seriously.

“We will be reminding our members of their obligations and also the matter of fraud. We will always defend honest, professional Elmhurst Energy members, but we clearly want to rid the entire industry of malpractice.
“The reason we have pushed for ‘smart’ auditing for existing dwellings, and are considering it for other sectors, is so that we can identity any unusual certificates and act accordingly.

“Our members are not insured if they purposefully issue certificates with incorrect information and the claims against them can be extremely expensive.

“An energy assessor with evidence of an Elmhurst EPC being issued fraudulently should make contact with us and we will willingly investigate and take necessary action, which can include the assessor being struck off.”

Cases which have raised concern so far include a 1970s industrial unit with oil-fired heating which got a G rating subsequently improved to E on a further EPC despite no apparent improvements, and a 1980s warehouse G rated partly due to no lighting after re-roofing which a subsequent EPC rated D, still with no lighting.

Source: Energy assessor magazine

Buildings in Europe must lead the world in reducing emissions

Europe must lead the world on cutting greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings if we are to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement, a coalition of over 300 businesses and organisations from across the continent has urged.

The coalition, which includes cities, public authorities, property developers, manufacturers and energy utilities, as well as trade associations, NGOs and universities, is backing the need for ambitious ‘national renovation strategies’ that set out clear targets, milestones and measures on transforming existing buildings.

The intervention comes as EU member states near the deadline to publish updated strategies to renovate their buildings, which account for around 36 per cent of Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and as political decision-makers grapple over the future of EU energy laws for the construction sector.

This groundswell of support for more ambitious European renovation policy follows the conclusion of BUILD UPON, an EU Horizon 2020 funded project, in which 13 Green Building Councils in Europe played a leading role in helping national governments to create strong and robust strategies that will see their countries unlock the energy saving potential in their buildings.

Their recommendations are released today in a series of publications by the World Green Building Council, the coordinating organisation behind BUILD UPON, a project which has received praise from dozens of ministries, cities and other public authorities across Europe for its major impact on renovation policy.

The publications set out actions for how their countries can deliver the level of ambition needed on existing buildings that will meet the Paris Agreement (see notes to editors below), and were developed by the 13 Green Building Councils through a major collaborative process involving nearly 2,000 key organisations at 100 events across Europe.

James Drinkwater, European Regional Director of the World Green Building Council, believes Europe is at a cross roads in terms of its energy policy.

“Decision-makers are unwilling to commit to a clear vision for one of Europe’s most pressing climate challenges – its buildings. But this intervention is proof that a large number of businesses and organisations are committed to ambitious plans on building renovation,” he said.

“Our Green Building Councils in Europe have been leading this charge by helping their national governments to develop strong action plans to transform buildings across Europe.”

Experts have warned that significantly stronger building renovation policy is needed if Europe is to unleash a boom in construction jobs, improve citizens’ quality of life, particularly those on lower incomes who are hit hardest by energy costs – and to meet its climate obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Source: energyzine

CAN SCIENCE BEAT GREENHOUSE GASES?

In a project which may very well influence what energy assessors do in the future, scientists are setting out to determine whether it will be possible to remove sufficient greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to meet our current and future climate targets.

The £8.6m Greenhouse Gas Removal Research Programme will involve 100 researchers from across 40 UK universities and partner organisations, and fund seven PhD students to complete research programmes.

It is being funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the leading UK public funder of environmental science, together with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and two science and engineering research councils.

The NERC said in a statement yesterday: “The UK is committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1·5°C above pre-industrial levels.

“Alongside significant emission reductions, large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere could considerably increase the likelihood of achieving this goal.

“Researchers know there are ways to approach this challenge but they have yet to be demonstrated on scales that are climatically-significant. Major questions remain around their feasibility, as well as impacts on society and public attitudes.”

None of this work directly involves the energy efficiency of buildings, but how far researchers can go in finding ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is likely to determine how urgent is the task of reducing emissions from homes and businesses.

Researchers will investigate the potential for increasing carbon storage in agricultural soil and forests, and new ways to remove methane gas from the air on a local scale.

Others will look into using waste materials from mining as a greenhouse gas removal technique, and explore how bioenergy crops could be used in power stations in combination with carbon capture and storage methods.
Recognising that the UK alone cannot solve these problems, the research will also address the political, socio-economic, technological and environmental issues concerning the potential for greenhouse gas removal on a global scale.

Professor Tim Wheeler, Director for Science & Innovation at NERC, said: “The UK research community is addressing the challenges of climate change by providing world-leading, independent research to inform decision-making that will ensure future wellbeing and prosperity for the UK and internationally.

“This new Greenhouse Gas Removal programme will shed light on how new approaches could be used to prevent the effects of climate change, alongside reducing emissions, aligning with the UK’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“This multi-disciplinary research embodies the research councils’ shared commitment to working together to provide vital answers to society’s most pressing questions.”

Source: Energy assessor magazine

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