Navigating Regulations & Application Design for Commercial Hot Water Systems

There are huge expectations placed on building services engineers and sustainability consultants to be experts on the regulations for the built environment and the ever-developing technologies employed to meet them. The most important systems and features of the building, such as its fabric, power, heating and cooling systems are well understood and can be confidently dealt with when specifying and delivering a project. Designs including non-traditional and secondary systems are where engineers can be at a disadvantage due to the vast amount of changing information that they need to know. These systems can include domestic hot water (DHW), renewables plus the control of them, and gas appliance flueing.

These secondary systems on commercial projects are therefore a perfect opportunity to lean on more specialist application design services so that consultants can place their focus on the mainline elements of a building project. At Adveco, we have supplied specialist design support for the past 50 years, ensuring typically bespoke applications meet regulatory demands and best practice to sensibly manage capital expenditure while ensuring system longevity for better operational life.

In recent years we have come to recognise three prime ways that specialist application design becomes truly advantageous to a commercial building project. The first is in supporting mechanical and public health engineers deliver comprehensive and highly efficient DHW systems. The second is aiding sustainability consultants in the integration of renewables. The third is in helping engineers and D&B contractors to address the complex regulations surrounding the installation of flues for gas-based systems.

With DHW applications the primary issues are always going to relate to correct sizing based on the demands generated by a building’s occupants and choice of system. These can be based on application, energy source, suitability, and integration with carbon saving technologies,

Oversizing DHW systems inherently come from a lack of understanding of hot water demands within the building, diversity, and length of the peak period. Oversizing is exacerbated by the false belief that the building uses more hot water than it really does, and an attitude of ‘better too much than not enough’. Sizing programmes, often employed for a quick sizing early in the design then never reviewed, do not deal well with the many variables and decisions on diversity leading them to oversize to prevent hot water problems. Traditionally the problems with oversizing, such as increased standing losses, increased outlay costs, increased pipe sizes, and increased space use may have been minor in terms of the cost of the whole building, but it now has another important knock-on effect. If the hot water consumption is overinflated, it falsely increases the expectation of the building’s carbon emissions. This then requires greater employment of renewables to reduce emissions which do not actually occur. This can come at great cost and complication and provide little benefit to the building. Access to realistic sizing tools and having the experience to interpret results requires both expertise and time, which specialist application design can bring to a project.

The integration of renewables, such as air source heat pumps (ASHP), heat recovery and solar thermal, will further increase the complexity of a system. Renewable technologies are going to be selected early in the design process to secure the Part L approval, once modelled successfully it is not wise to start changing things too severely. Small changes, such as revising the manufacturer of an appliance is going to make little difference within Part L, but if you have to add, remove and replace a technology, then you are going to be back at the beginning, and will almost certainly need to resubmit your Part L calculations. These early selection decisions increasingly reside with the sustainability consultant before the design engineer is involved, which means they need a broad knowledge of building services systems beyond the renewables themselves. Working together with specialist application design means they can better advise on selecting the right type of renewable to ensure it will integrate with the rest of the system and be controlled to work with traditional technologies. It is very important that renewable heat sources, particularly those that provide low-grade heat, are not held off by traditional boiler systems providing high-grade heat to high-temperature systems. This is not purely a controls issue but one that requires an in-depth understanding of the complete system arrangement to set it up effectively.

Finally, a regulatory issue that continues to impact consultants, engineers and D&B contractors has been the change to flue and gas standards.

IGEM/UP10 Edition 4 is an Institute of Gas Engineers and Managers utilisation procedure which attempts to address two major points of confusion: safe horizontal termination and the definition of a group of appliances. Adveco applies this document in all relevant plant room design since limits on horizontal termination through a wall terminal at low level is clearly important from a safety perspective. Many designers and installers remain unsure how to apply it correctly which can have a major impact on commissioning if the termination is not found to meet the current regulations.

Under UP/10, groups of terminals are defined by a mathematical formula which sets a corresponding dimension. Terminals that are within the calculated dimension of each other are k,89a group regardless of type or location. A group of terminals with an input over 70kW (net) that terminate horizontally must now be tested against a risk assessment provided within UP/10; this could therefore include terminals from appliances with outputs below 70 kW that previously would not have been considered if their terminals conformed to BS5440. The IGEM procedure will potentially allow up to 333kW (net) to be exhausted at low level if it is deemed risk free (such as a windowless wall looking over open fields) but will not allow 70kW to be exhausted at low level if deemed unsafe (such as an internal corner, or adjacent to openable windows, walkways, or a playground). Despite holding British Standard (BS) equivalency and being published for more than five years, UP/10 remains underused in the early design phase where it should be used to determine when flues must terminate at high level so that they can be included in the installation budget.

Faced with an ever-widening range of technology and regulations, access to a specialist design for these secondary systems is an extremely useful asset, one that can be both an independent sounding board and an extension of the in-house design function. That saves valuable time, delivers a better project specification and helps avoid problems that can halt final commissioning of a system, delaying or even preventing a building’s final handover to the new resident.

Enquire about sizing your project 

Non-domestic RHI gains 12–month extension

Originally set to finish at the end of March 2021, and in response to delays caused to building projects by COVID-19, the Government’s non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has received a 12-month extension. In response to concerns raised by stakeholders that a significant number of existing projects would fail to meet the scheme closure application deadline of 31st March 2021, affected projects are now able to submit an extension application.

Those existing projects unable to commission and accredit to the scheme before the previous deadline now can extend these processes until 31 March 2022.

With increasing pressure to decarbonise in line with the Government’s ambitious net zero targets, the preservation of reliable and continued funding for the commercial sector is critical if organisations are to be further encouraged in the adoption of future-proof sustainable developments. With no clear, immediate replacement for the RHI, concerns had been raised regarding the lack of incentivisation for the commercial sector, as new schemes focussed on domestic installations. Given around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by heating, cooling, ventilation, the provision of hot water and lighting the built environment, and some 17% is generated by commercial building stock, it is clear that more help is required to drive the uptake of renewables and more sustainable systems if the UK is to achieve climate-neutral buildings by 2050.

Designed to provide financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat by businesses, the public sector and non-profit organisations, the non-domestic RHI is currently applicable to air source heat pumps, such as the Adveco FPi range and L70, and solar thermal for commercial uses including large and small businesses, plus schools and hospitals. Administrated by Ofgem on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), tier one of the RHI incentivises non-domestic energy producers for either the life of the installation or 20 years as a maximum. If conditions are met, with equipment, including a generation meter, being installed by a microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) accredited installer, eligible businesses in England, Scotland and Wales will now continue to be paid for installations completed and commissioned before 2022.

Once successfully accredited, systems will receive quarterly payments per kilowatt-hour (kWth) of energy use, however, if metered as a multiple system, which includes either ASHP or solar thermal and a gas boiler, then payment is made purely for the heat generated by the heat pump or solar thermal aspect of the application.

The current 2020/21 (non-domestic) tariff are:

  • For new air source heat pumps – 2.79(p/kWh)*
  • For new solar thermal collectors less than 200kWth in size (tier 1) – 10.98(p/kWh)*

For specifiers and developers installing renewable heating systems on commercial buildings or small-to-medium-scale district heating projects, the extension also provides crucial financial support ahead of the Green Heat Network Scheme (GHNS) coming into force in April 2022.

*For more information on non-domestic RHI and the full conditions of eligibility, refer to the energy regulator Ofgem.

Adveco Showcases New Hybrid Packaged Plant Rooms at CIBSE Build2Perform

  • Accelerate project timescales with offsite constructed heating, hot water and low carbon energy systems
  • Introducing packaged hybrid systems that help meet new carbon targets
  • Understand whether continued investment in gas infrastructure is still viable

Hot water and heating specialist Adveco, will be exhibiting its first hybrid packaged plant room systems for heating and hot water at CIBSE Build2Perform November 26th & 27th at Olympia, London. These bespoke designed systems, built into a weatherproof enclosure, not only maximise available space on a commercial project but also deliver system resilience, help reduce a building’s energy consumption and reduce operational costs.

Adveco’s plant rooms leverage technology from a range of partners including A.O. Smith, Cosmogas and cogeneration specialist TOTEM. Appliances are combined with Adveco’s own in-house designed control systems and industry recognised heat recovery technology, such as the HR001, a standalone Heat Recovery Unit providing a convenient, packaged unit to recover refrigerant system waste heat.

For the first time, Adveco will be showcasing a hybrid application that combines the new Adveco FPi Air Source Heat Pump with an A.O. Smith Innovo condensing room-sealed gas water heater and controls, enabling commercial sites to achieve lower cost heating or cooling.

An all-electric packaged plant room will also be on display alongside the popular MD high efficiency condensing gas boiler.

MD high efficiency condensing gas boiler - floor standing or wall mounted.Compact and lightweight, with low CO and NOₓ emission levels, MD is perfect for use in conjunction with an air source heat pump as part of a hybrid system, providing both sustainability and the operational responsiveness required by larger-scale commercial systems. With multiple load-balanced heat exchangers in a single chassis, MD offers peace of mind with built-in redundancy, all backed by a seven-year warranty on all parts and labour when commissioned by Adveco and a 10-year warranty on both the heat exchangers and the pre-mix burner.

Adveco’s Application Engineer Simon BennetOn Wednesday afternoon, Adveco’s Application Engineer Simon Bennet will be helping designers facing the decision of whether to adopt all-electric for new buildings or outlay for a gas supply ready for conversion to hydrogen. A decision that could affect future carbon emissions and running costs for the lifetime of the building. Simon will outline the practical considerations to help decide whether the cost and the need to reduce carbon make continued investment in gas infrastructure viable for commercial new build projects. You can register for this session by visiting the Build2Perform Seminar page.

Green Heat Roadmap highlights the challenges of achieving Net Zero by 2050

A new report launched by Minister for Climate Change Lord Duncan on 15 October 2019, calls for an urgent Green Heat Roadmap by 2020 to scale low carbon heating technologies.

The 80% 2050 carbon emission reduction target relative to 1990 already required over 20,000 households to switch to low-carbon heating every week between 2025 and 2050. The zero-carbon target requires even more rapid decarbonisation yet the most successful policy constellations to date have only succeeded in encouraging 2,000 dwellings to switch to low-carbon heating every week.

Despite the focus on households, large-scale rollout also requires the development of supply chains so at-scale demonstrations go hand-in-hand with protection. This activity will also impact on the role the commercial sector will have to play, particularly with community-led and local approaches taking precedent, increasing the visibility of successful approaches.

Commenting on the report, EUA chief executive Mike Foster said; “EUA believes that the only sensible, cost effective and deliverable solution to decarbonising the hard to tackle heat sector is by using green gases such as hydrogen. The technology is being tested that can deliver the carbon reductions needed, while keeping people warm.

“It is the optimum solution. The energy trilemma, a phrase that rightly suggests the difficulty in balancing the competing demands of affordability, reliability, and sustainability, should be set against the UK’s particular needs, and utilising the existing gas network, but with low carbon gas, does this.”

Read the report here.

Hybrid Approach

Adveco’s Technical Director Bill Sinclair discusses the energy challenges facing facility managers when it comes to achieving sustainability across the built estate in the latest issue of Tomorrow’s FM Magazine.

Read the full article here

Working Towards A Cleaner Future

The UK was one of the first countries to recognise and act on the economic and security threats of climate change. The Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, committed the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels, through a process of setting five-year caps on greenhouse gas emissions termed ‘Carbon Budgets’. This approach has now been used as a model for action across the world and is mirrored by the United Nations’ Paris Agreement.

Last November, energy secretary Greg Clark triumphantly declared the energy trilemma to be over in a speech to Parliament which established a new set of principles to steer future development of the energy market. A market that can embrace the concept that cheap power is now green power.

The ‘energy trilemma’, so-called because of its summary of three key challenges that faced the sector, typically the need to decarbonise power generation in the cheapest possible way while guaranteeing security of supply, has been the core principle behind much of the government’s energy policy. “It is looking now possible, indeed likely, that by the mid-2020s green power will be the cheapest power. It can be zero subsidy. The trilemma is well and truly over,” declared Clark. Adding that, “Moving beyond subsidy does not mean to say we are reverting to the dirty, polluting world of the past, it is one where green energy can be cheap energy.”

However, there are still considerable challenges ahead if the government, UK businesses and those operating within the built environment are to ultimately meet the demands of the Climate Change Act.

A Cleaner Grid

Zero carbon energy sources are becoming more abundant and efficient, which is naturally having a positive impact on the grid’s carbon factor. As a result, carbon intensive generation sources, like coal power stations, stay offline for longer, and this has led us to a pivot point in our reliance on carbon intensive generation techniques. The carbon intensity, according to the National Grid, has “almost halved in a five year period.”

In January 2018 the carbon intensity of the grid ranged from 121 g/kWh to 443 g/kWh, a period where demand fluctuated from 23.78 GW to 49.11 GW. We can compare the winter range – around 300g/kWh – with the summer months, where load on the grid should reduce considerably without the heating demand. However, summer months carbon emission rates exceeded 200 g/kWh, and averaged out at approximately 175g/kWh, which is surprising because we would expect technologies such as photovoltaics (PV) to be performing at their optimal outputs.

In fact, the July centred heat wave created a higher carbon intensity than April or January.  We can presume this was due to higher electricity consumption by air-conditioning systems and possibly a fall in output from wind generation systems which would, in theory, be more effective in poor winter weather.

Increasing efficiency across the built environment

The tenth draft of the Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) was released in July 2018 and has already had a significant impact on the way we view and use electricity with lower emissions that have cleaned up its image as a fuel compared to gas. Under SAP 10 emissions in electricity have dropped by more than 50%, a significant change that takes emissions down to 0.233kg CO₂/kWh. Gas emissions have also reduced by 2.8% within the same time frame, but gas is going to be relatively constant when it comes to emissions because it is not generated, but rather is effectively mined. This means the end-product does not get any cleaner, the reduction is a product of improved pumping process and less distribution loss. Before this substantial change, electricity was considered 2.4 times dirtier than gas, today that ratio has dropped to almost one to one.

These developments are obviously having a considerable impact on the mind set towards electricity as an energy source for heating and hot water to serve the built environment. For a starter, new commercial builds with a small requirement for domestic hot water (DHW) load will benefit in a big way from installing any heat pump technology.

But for new builds exhibiting a large DHW load then there remains a solid argument for employing a gas-fired water heater. However, the smart approach is to also use a heat pump to create a hybrid system to pre-heat the DHW system. This gives a project considerable carbon advantage from the heat pump, because the COP is higher when the output temp is 50 instead of 65, and very high when the ambient is warm. In addition, running costs are kept low by only heating water at the cost of gas, be it from the gas or from electric with a minimum 3.5:1 COP.  This type of hybrid system approach also reduces the maximum available electric load the building needs, allowing for an incredibly carbon-efficient hot water system, and in warmer weather reduces a buildings dependency on gas to nearly nothing. There are also benefits to be had from reducing grid demand at peak times, and then utilising the heat pump at its most efficient.

In theory, the RHI for air-to-water heat pumps should also be re-evaluated. Previously the minimum efficiency to be eligible was a SCOP of 2.4, as this was the boundary where gas was a more carbon effective energy source. Not to encourage carbon intensive buildings, but that boundary could be lowered and still have a positive carbon impact on the existing building stock. And if a heat pump with a lower efficiency was selected, capital outlay would, in theory, reduce as well.

So far so good, but how successfully is this delivering against the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as set out by the Climate Change Act?

Half way there?

The encouraging news is that greenhouse gas emissions have already been reduced by approximately 42%, so we are just over halfway to the end goal, but the problem is the first 50% is the easy bit – increasing renewable energy sources and limiting coal fire stations – but what do we do to continue?

It is expected that 2018’s emissions in the final reckoning will be of a magnitude of 468 megatonnes of CO₂ equivalent (CO₂ E). Shorthand for a collection of greenhouse gases, CO₂ E includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. Carbon dioxide is the main target, making up 81% of all greenhouse gasses in 2016, and for this reason it’s the element that we think of reducing when targeting for a greener future.

The Government’s Carbon Budgets have so far been achieved through a mix of incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed in Tariff, and regulation (Building Regulations Part L). In this way the UK has been able to meet the requirements of Carbon Budget one and two, as well as achieving the third budget’s requirements (37%) well before the 2022 deadline. Despite Clark’s recent positive comments, the Committee on Climate Change estimates that we are not on target to meet Carbon Budget four, requiring a 51% decrease, by 2028.

The government stated in its 2017 Clean Growth Strategy “In order to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets (covering the periods 2023-2027 and 2028-2032) we will need to drive a significant acceleration in the pace of decarbonisation.”

Where we can start to make a real difference

The National Grid has already begun to outline potential future energy scenarios, but it is down to our industry to assess how low carbon technologies can be deployed in a meaningful way to address these scenarios. This means considering the effect of lower carbon intensity electricity on renewable technologies with emphasis on existing, as opposed to new builds.

From the systems already outlined it is clear there remains a strong argument for employing gas alongside renewables in new builds. When it comes to the refurbishing of existing building stock, that is where the greatest advances can be potentially made across the built environment. In such a scenario though, it is never going to be worthwhile for the building owner to put in a heat pump for preheat or as a standalone hot water source. From a renewables perspective it is going to be better to put in solar thermal. But when an existing building needs to be improved then it cannot be cost-prohibitive for the owner. This means it needs governmental support which generally makes solar thermal cost-optimal if the project site has the capability to support an installation.

As with all refurbishments, the physical limitations of a site will always drive or preclude certain options. Without doubt, gas infrastructure remains the most common for the provision of heating and DHW and a more open-minded approach to driving cleaner heat through a mix of replacement gas and renewables is what will really progress us towards the 2028 targets while also delivering considerable benefits to those living and working in these buildings.

 

Adveco expert Bill Sinclair, Technical Director Bill Sinclair, technical director, Adveco Ltd.

Bill Sinclair, technical director, Adveco, which also trades in the UK as A.O. Smith Water Heaters, brings almost twenty years’ industry experience in mechanical engineering. Having joined the company in 2011 as technical manager, he today holds responsibility for product and system development, as well as managing the company’s bespoke design and engineering teams.

Prior to joining Adveco, Bill held the role of installation manager at Millside Heating Services Ltd, and technical manager at Rinnai UK Ltd.

Micro-CHP Becomes The Smarter Choice For Lower Cost Energy

Under new laws introduced by the government, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) guarantees small businesses installing new micro combined heat and power (m-CHP) up to 50kW, such as the Adveco TOTEM, and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will receive a payment for exporting electricity to the grid from the start of 2020.

Energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers will be obliged to offer a minimum of one export tariff each to small-scale electricity generators for each unit of electricity they sell to the grid, based on readings taken from a suitable smart meter. Meters must be capable of providing export readings every half an hour, even if the tariff is not paid on a half-hourly basis. Those who supply half-hourly readings are expected to be offered a wider range of tariffs.

The legislation appears flexible and will enable energy suppliers to pay businesses for exporting electricity to the grid at times of peak demand, whether it was renewably generated or not. Looking to early export guarantee type tariffs currently available, the expectation is that suppliers will offer a payment of around 5.5p per kilowatt hour.

To qualify for the Smart Export Guarantee, small scale generators will need to have renewable energy systems installed to meet the standards of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Payment of the SEG will not be linked to or affected by any other grants or loans, with the exception of those benefitting from the earlier Feed-in Tariff scheme which closed at the end of March 2019. SEG will not apply to those businesses, but they can apply to swap from the feed-in tariff to SEG if they wish.

For businesses choosing Adveco’s TOTEM m-CHP, the greatest advantage has been the up to 29% reduction in energy costs. With the new SEG tariffs in place, m-Combined Heat and Power becomes an even more attractive option for those seeking to produce electricity onsite. The electricity output from the TOTEM m-CHP’s gas-powered engine not only provides electricity that can now be fed back to the grid at a profit, but also for each kWh of electricity generated approximately 2.5 kWh of free, high-grade heat is also recovered which can then be used for central heating or water heating in the building.

To learn more about the advantages of m-CHP speak to Adveco today or download the brochure.

Is Hydrogen The Long Term Answer To Decarbonising Commercial Buildings?

The UK Government’s announced drive towards Net-Zero is to be lauded, but in truth, there is no utopian response that completely satisfies all criteria. So, the search continues for the most cost-effective and robust path of transformation for the commercial sector. What is clear is that technologies that can leverage existing infrastructure and supply chains are highly advantageous when it comes to commercial buildings contributing to long-term decarbonisation.

This was why in late 2018 the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) proposed that hydrogen, when combined with greater energy efficiency, cheap low-carbon power generation and new ‘hybrid’ heat pump systems would be a credible option to help decarbonise the UK energy system.

Previous assessment had always questioned the practicality and expensive of roll out at scale, despite recognising the potential of hydrogen as a zero-carbon energy source. The CCC’s new findings, however, indicated that hydrogen could replace natural gas in parts of the energy system, where electrification is not feasible or is prohibitively expensive, for example in providing heat on colder winter days, industrial heat processes and back-up power generation.

This has spurred on HyDeploy, the largest gas innovation project ever funded by Ofgem. The project, which is set to be completed by 2023 is a launch pad for the hydrogen blending market and the UK’s first to demonstrate hydrogen injection into a live gas network, with the aim to achieve up to 20% volume blend for domestic gas use. The overarching aim of the project is to provide the safety case for hydrogen blending and facilitate the clearance of regulatory barriers necessary to kick start the hydrogen blending market.

The project is a critically important stepping stone in establishing Hydrogen as a credible option for the UK’s energy transition. The reality is that a shift to hydrogen requires a number of obstacles to be overcome and much of that is to do with education. Research commissioned by the CCC into the general awareness of hydrogen as a heating technology showed a broad lack of familiarity with the new technology and how it works with the current heating expectations – efficiency, speed of deployment and physical form factors. There were also inherent negative perceptions relating to the burden of installation costs of the new technology. The challenge to the heating industry as a whole is to better educate customers in order to accept alternative technologies moving forward and to clearly establish the benefits of switching heating technologies.

What is clear, is that hydrogen is not going to be the holy grail of zero carbon heating for commercial projects. The simple truth is that it would be impractical to switch the gas grid to 100% hydrogen for zero carbon heat, despite the existence of the extensive natural gas grid in the UK.

Producing bulk hydrogen from renewable electricity is also still expensive, and any produced by ‘surplus’ renewable electricity is not expected to meet the scale of demand. The production of low carbon hydrogen at scale will rely on using imported natural gas and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to offer a cost-effective route to produce lower volumes of hydrogen. Even when using CCS, it is important to realise hydrogen from fossil fuels will not be zero-carbon.

But, in terms of cost-effectively reducing emissions from energy use to a very low level by 2050, producing hydrogen via a low carbon route and storing it at scale makes it a potentially valuable complement to electrification.

Looking forward, the priority for the 2020s is to educate the commercial market by demonstrating hydrogen’s value. This begins by commencing hydrogen production at scale as part of a CCS cluster. It is proposed that blending at small proportions into the natural gas supply and deployment within industry would not initially require major infrastructure changes. Without doubt, there will be new policies put in place by the government to drive this adoption as greater clarity is gained regarding hydrogen’s long-term role in the energy system.

In the mid-term to long-term, hydrogen is expected to play a valuable role in meeting the needs for heating the UK’s commercial buildings. This will be realised primarily by deployment in combination with heat pumps as part of ‘hybrid heat pump’ systems.

Heat pumps, powered by increasingly low carbon electricity, offer the potential to provide heat efficiently for most of the time, with hydrogen boilers contributing during periods of peak electricity demand, which have cost implications for a business, and when temperature plunge in winter months. The expectation is for the combined deployment of hydrogen and heat pumps to effectively displace fossil fuel only use in buildings in the long term to achieve very low emission energy systems that will make an important contribution to decarbonisation.

As a result, facility and energy managers looking to establish a road map to net zero carbon are advised to look at how they can integrate heat pumps with their existing gas infrastructure into a hybrid approach that will not only be more efficient, lower cost and lower carbon, but ultimately be hydrogen ready.

With close to 50 years of experience in advising the commercial sector on hot water, heating and low carbon renewable power systems, Adveco is perfectly placed to consult on short, mid and long term options for your commercial projects, whether new build or refurbishment.

The European Power Struggle

The UK makes a significant advance in the reduction of coal as a power source, but renewables still have a long way to go to be a practical replacement for all fossil fuels.

A key step in the transition towards a net-zero carbon economy, Britain set a new eight-day record for going without coal-powered energy – the longest such period since 1882.

Within the European Union, between 2000 and 2018 the share of electricity generated by coal dropped in all member states except the Netherlands. Renewable energy sources increased their share everywhere except in Latvia. Heavily coal-dependent economies in central Europe are still slow to phase out the dirty fuel.

Sweden had the lowest share of electricity generated by fossil fuels in 2018, using a mix of renewables and nuclear energy, which is classed as a low-carbon power source.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/may/25/the-power-switch-tracking-britains-record-coal-free-run

UK framework sets agenda for building and construction sector to police its carbon emissions

Despite the cited success of reduction of emissions in line with the Government’s Carbon Budgets, we are well aware that much of this success has come from easy wins, such as closing operations at coal-burning power stations. The final push to zero carbon by 2050 is the real challenge, as the gap between effort/expenditure and results narrows.

The clear agenda is to adhere to a course of action that curbs global greenhouse gas emissions so that temperature rise remains ideally below 1.5 degrees Celsius within the established timeframe.

To achieve a state of zero carbon emissions requires those with a significant role in global energy consumption and the associated emissions to come to a consensus agreement on tackling the issue. The building and construction sector is currently responsible for around 30% of global energy consumption, and here in the UK there is encouraging new action to drive an ambitious transformation of the industry with co-ordinated action towards delivering 100% net zero carbon buildings by 2050.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has developed a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings to begin to provide direction for addressing whole life carbon in the industry and clarity on action to achieve net zero carbon across the UK built sector.

The first phase of this work has set the scope of the work required by the industry which can be accurately measured. The UKGBC has set out two clear approaches, net zero carbon construction, and net zero carbon operational energy. In the coming decade, the intent is to develop and ensure these approaches become enshrined within industry protocols.

To reduce construction impacts the framework proposes a whole life carbon assessment should be undertaken and disclosed for all construction projects to drive carbon reductions. The carbon impacts from the product and construction stages should be measured and then offset at practical completion.

To reduce operational energy use, the framework proposed reductions in energy demand and consumption be prioritised over all other measures. In-use energy consumption should be calculated and publicly disclosed on an annual basis with an increase in renewable energy supply and on-site renewable energy source prioritised. Off-site renewables should demonstrate additionality and any remaining carbon must be offset to achieve net zero using a recognised offsetting framework and the amount of offset used should be publicly disclosed.

The framework has been presented as a starting point, with the next ten years seeing the scope and ambition of the framework increased to encourage greater action.

In the short-term, additional requirements will be introduced to challenge the industry, including minimum energy efficiency targets and limits on the use of offsets.

In the longer term, the two approaches for construction and operational energy will be integrated into a broader approach for net zero whole life carbon, covering all of the emissions associated with the construction, operation, maintenance and demolition of a building.

Discover more at https://www.worldgbc.org