Building Services News - in Focus

Setting the Standard

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has this October launched its new Environment and Sustainability Standard (BS) 6001:2008 intended to promote the adoption of good practices throughout the construction supply chain.

The new framework is intended to provide a standard for the responsible sourcing of construction products and gives guidelines on the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability within the construction industry. It is anticipated that the Standard will help to level the playing field between disparate construction products claiming environmental credentials.

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London - Offline?

A recent publication by Lobby group London First has suggested a programme of decentralised energy production in the capital could result in a dramatic reduction of carbon emissions equating to 7.2 million tonnes of carbon by 2025.

The report, 'Cutting the Capital's Carbon Footprint' researched by Buro Happold, outlines a £7 billion strategy to decentralise 25% of London's energy by constructing locally-placed combined heat and power plants linked to housing estates, schools and hospitals.

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Miliband focussed on carbon

The newly-appointed energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband has announced new Government targets to reduce the UK's carbon emissions 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, a 20% target increase.

The Climate Change Committee advised the Government it needed to increase its targets to reduce greenhouse gases and that these should cover all sectors of the economy.

Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, has supported the government's new target, emphasising its importance on an international scale.

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Coal Needs to Clean-Up its Act

The Environment Agency has warned that the UK must avoid building any further coal-fired power stations unless they can capture the carbon dioxide produced. The agency has advised it is unacceptable to simply fit CO2 capturing technology at a later date, and that any proposed coal-fired power stations must have this incorporated from day one.

Carbon dioxide-capturing technology involves acquiring and storing the carbon dioxide emitted during the burning of fossil fuels, but has largely remained untested at such a large scale. The Environment Agency has recommended that faster progress on proving carbon capture and storage technology needs to be made before further coal-fired stations are constructed and called on the Government to invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS) programmes.

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Straw Proves a Commercial Success

An Essex-based construction company has recently completed the UK's first and largest commercial straw bale insulated building. The structure, which occupies over 1000 sq m, houses an auction room and offices for Sworders' Fine Art and Antique Auctioneers and yet is designed to create a significantly lower carbon footprint than comparable office buildings of its size. Collins and Beckett constructed the building with a laminated timber frame and packed the walling with highly insulating natural straw bales. The building is expected to provide lifetime low-running costs due to its insulation properties and furthermore by its incorporation of biofuel technology, solar heating and harvested rainwater for its utilities.

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A Sustainable Workforce?

Engineering and Environment consultant Royal Haskoning has warned that the surge in companies' requirements for employees with high levels of expertise in environmental and sustainability issues will lead to a massive shortage of workers in the construction field. A survey carried out for Royal Haskoning by ICM research highlights the effect an increase in environmental regulations together with a general increased social awareness on the topic is having on the need for experts in this sector.

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