British government announces green home makeovers

by Michael Smith

Homes in the UK account for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in this country.
Therefore, plans to reduce household carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050 have been announced by government.

Ministers from the new Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department of Communities and Local Government (how all those names have been changed and created, yikes) have published plans to reduce energy use in British homes and launch a consultation on the proposals.

Energy use in homes, as already stated, currently accounts for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, and the government intends to do something about it. While I hate to ask where all the money is supposed to come from it is suggested that under those plans about seven million houses and flats will be offered a complete eco-makeover.

Government will also commit to cutting a third of greenhouse gas emissions from households by 2020.

However, environmental campaigners have warned that these steps are not going far enough, and have said they hope that government will take a more ambitious stance.

Friends of the Earth – yet again – is arguing that the UK will need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Ed Matthew, head of UK climate at Friends of the Earth, said that the organisation would like to see government provide eco-makeovers to at least ten million homes, and introduce measures to cut household emissions by two-thirds.

"Although seven million homes sounds like a lot, they need to do more homes," he said.

"But more important than that, the scale of cuts they are trying to achieve in those homes just simply isn't enough."

He also raised fears that the Government is not moving quickly enough, as reports suggest the measures in the consultation will not come into effect until 2013.

"We simply don't have the time to faff around," Mr Matthew said.

He added: "This is a big change from where government has been. They are beginning to talk the right language, but it's not ambitious enough, it's not fast enough."

Those are the same that keep telling us that we must not even consider burning refuse, not even for the generation of electrical power and that all rubbish must be recycled. In this they are totally ignorant – on purpose – of the fact that not all refuse can be recycled and composted and that there will always be some that will be left and, in my vie, it would be much better to do as done in other countries of Europe, to burn this to create energy and we are then only left with some ash and slag to get rid off.

One day, maybe, they are going to come round to reality but then again, maybe not.

Sometimes I wonder whether those people are in the same league as PETA and others of that kind who also do not seem to be in the real world when it comes toi the causes and issues they are concerned with.

Yes, maybe the few homes that government is going to give an eco-makeover are not enough but it could also be that this is aimed to be a pilot project of sorts. We must not forget that that is how governments more often than not work.

Governments, and I include all of them here rather than just the British one, should look at another approach to green homes and green communities to the Eco Towns that they have been touting here and elsewhere. Instead existing housing stock should be greened in such eco-makeovers as proposed here. It would work out much cheaper and leave the countryside free from those new developments.

If it is homes that we need, and boy do we need them, then there is so much housing stock around that just sits there doing nothing. I am sure many of us have seen it. That too is where we need to do something.

All those high-flung plans of the Eco Towns are not sustainable anyway in the current economic climate and neither in the biological climate. We need to “green” all existing homes and businesses – something the dear government keeps forgetting, businesses I mean – and not play with Eco Towns.

Freiburg is always mentioned as an example by the proponents of such Eco Town developments but it would appear that no one has a clue what they are talking about when they talk about Freiburg in Germany.

The eco town bit is a suburb, so to speak, of the City of Freiburg and not something stuck somewhere in the middle of the countryside, as proposed in Britain, linked to the existing transport infrastructure of buses, trams, trains and cycle paths so that people can quite happily work without a car.

Freiburg also is greening the remainder of the housing stock and every home must have – aided by the government – solar heating and photo-voltaic power cells on their south-facing roofs. Maybe we should send someone over there. Then again, don't think so; they might actually learn something.

© M Smith (Veshengro), 2009