White papers

London Plan and Zero Carbon Homes

As outlined in London’s Housing SPG, from October 2016 the zero carbon standard will apply to new major residential development projects. POLICY 5.2 MINIMISING CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS Planning decisions A Development proposals should make the fullest contribution to minimising carbon dioxide emissions in accordance with the following energy hierarchy: Be lean: use less energy Be clean: supply energy efficiently Be green: use renewable energy B The Mayor will work with boroughs and developers to ensure that major developments meet the following targets for carbon dioxide emissions reduction in buildings. These targets are expressed as minimum improvements over the Target Emission Rate (TER) outlined in the national Building Regulations leading to zero carbon residential buildings from 2016 and zero carbon non-domestic buildings from 2019. The GLA’s energy planning guidance provides a definition of what zero carbon homes are. It states that ‘Zero carbon’ homes are homes forming part of major development applications where the residential element of the application achieves at least a 35 per cent reduction in regulated carbon dioxide emissions (beyond Part L 2013) on-site. The remaining regulated carbon dioxide emissions, to 100 per cent, are to be off-set through a cash in lieu contribution to the relevant borough to be ring fenced to secure delivery of carbon dioxide savings elsewhere (in line with policy 5.2E). The current carbon price is £60/tonne CO2 and with a building lifetime of 30 year a contribution of £1,800 power tonne is likely to be required by London’s LPAs. Looking at a few of our recent projects this can amount to between £5,000 and £9,000 per unit and makes the careful consideration... read more

Breeam: Wst05 adaptation to climate change

By designing a building with adaptation to climate change in mind a large number of Breeam credits can be awarded. There are up to 15 credits available relating to climate change. Most of these are spread over the variety of topics that are affected by climate change such as thermal comfort and flood risk. In addition to these, Breeam New Construction 2014 introduced a specific issue to deal with adaptation to climate change: Wst05 Adaptation to Climate Change. Wst05 Adaptation to Climate Change has two elements. Firstly there is a basic credit for considering the effects of structural and fabric resilience to climate change. The requirements for this credit are: Conduct a climate change adaptation strategy appraisal for structural and fabric resilience by the end of Concept Design (RIBA Stage 2 or equivalent), in accordance with the following approach: Carry out a systematic (structural and fabric resilience specific) risk assessment to identify and evaluate the impact on the building over its projected life cycle from expected extreme weather conditions arising from climate change and, where feasible, mitigate against these impacts. The assessment should cover the following stages: Hazard identification Hazard assessment Risk estimation Risk evaluation Risk management The second element is an exemplary credit that can be achieved by addressing the requirements in a range of other issues that are affected by climate change: Hea 04 Thermal comfort Ene 01 Reduction of energy use and carbon emissions Ene 04 Low carbon design Wat 01 Water consumption Mat 05 Designing for durability and resilience Pol 03 Surface water run-off We have over 10 years experience in addressing climate change adaptation... read more

Breeam and adaptation to climate change

By designing a building with adaptation to climate change in mind a large number of Breeam credits can be awarded. Up to 15 credits are directly and indirectly associated with the Breeam Wst05 Adaptation to Climate Change issue. We have over 10 years experience in addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation in new building projects and have used this experience to develop a cost conscience approach to addressing the Breeam credits related to climate change adaptation. Contact us to discuss how we can help you achieve the Breeam credits in a cost effective manner whilst adding to the quality of the building design at the same time. Please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or send us an... read more

The business case for climate change adaptation

The debate on climate change has recently moved away from whether or not it is happening, to what needs to be done to reduce the magnitude of further changes and minimise the impacts. With the cost of renewable energy reaching grid parity with fossil fuels, the great debate of renewables v fossil fuels is all but over. The real challenges will now be in the area of climate change adaptation. The changing climate for London means for instance the annual maximum temperature may increase from 27º C at current levels to over 35º C by the 2050s. The average number of days with a temperature over 28º C will go up from an average of less than 1 day per summer to more than 28 days. The number of days with heavy rain goes up from on average 3 to 18 each year and the annual number of frost days goes down from 56 to less than 40. Building against current minimum standards will result in buildings that are unfit for the future. And it is therefore widely recognised that action needs to be taken now to adapt the natural and built environment to this potential change in order to ensure economic, social and environmental resilience. The National Planning Policy Framework describes how the planning system should be used to manage the challenges associated with climate change: “Planning plays a key role in helping shape places to minimise vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change” and “New development should be planned to avoid increased vulnerability to the range of impacts arising from climate change.” Indeed, an... read more

Low-carbon cities are a US$17 trillion opportunity worldwide

New research from the New Climate Economy finds that investing in public and low emission transport, building efficiency, and waste management in cities could generate savings with a current value of US$17 trillion by 2050. These low-carbon investments could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 Gt CO2e per year by 2030, more than the current annual emissions of India.

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The Oslo Principles in a corporate environment

One of the aims of the Oslo Principles is to set out the legal obligations that States have, to take urgent measures that are necessary to avert climate change and its effects. Jaap Spier, Advocate General at the Supreme Court of the Netherlands and rapporteur for the Expert Group said: “International law already recognises state responsibility for trans-boundary effects that activities in a state have on other states. The Oslo Principles are essentially applying this framework to climate change by drawing on obligations that clearly exist in environmental law, human rights law and tort law.”

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Legal Experts Release Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations

Last week, a group of legal experts from around the world announced the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations, which set out states’ legal obligations to constrain climate change. Comprised of experts in international, environmental, tort, and human rights law, the group met over a period of several years to formulate the Principles in response to the threat climate change poses to humankind, other life, and global security and well-being. The Oslo Principles both define the scope of states’ legal obligations to protect the environment and outline a means of meeting these obligations. The group adopted the Oslo Principles on March 1, 2015, and four of its members will present them to the public today at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. “These principles underscore that states have moral and legal duties to take action to avert the destructive effects of climate change,” said Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale and the Director of Yale’s Global Justice Program. Current international debate about the climate often turns on whether states are legally required to address the threat of climate change. The Expert Group on Global Climate Obligations found that states are bound by existing international law to assess the environmental impact of their activities and to take measures to prevent the destructive effects of climate change. “So long as there are no international agreements imposing clear requirements or strong, explicitly applicable national laws, judges may find it difficult to discern the legal obligations of states,” said Hon. Michael Kirby, retired Justice, High Court of Australia, a member of the expert group.... read more

Deregulation Act and the Code for Sustainable Homes

The Deregulation Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. The act includes numerous topics where regulation has been simplified or removed. One of the topics relates to the power of local planning authorities to set energy performance requirements that are higher than the current minimum standards in the building regulations. These powers were given to local planning authorities through the Planning and Energy Act 2008 and they form the basis of the power to set Code for Sustainable Homes requirements through the planning consent process. Housing Standards Review The Housing Standards Review had questioned the added value of the Code for Sustainable Homes. After all, its existence was driven by the policy to provide incentives to the housing industry to move to the zero-carbon homes by 2016. After nearly ten years of Code for Sustainable Homes the energy performance of new housing has markedly improved and the zero-carbon target is now due to be implemented next year. Of course the Code for Sustainable Homes does not only cover energy performance of new housing. It includes a number of other suitability topics including water consumption, flood risk and drainage, health and well-being and ecology. Some of these topics are also covered by other more traditional powers that local planning authorities have. For instance ecology and flood risk are also covered through specific planning policies. Changes to the building regulations The option to require higher standards of energy performance is not entirely removed. The Deregulation Act also makes a provision that will allow the building regulations to give two performance standards for energy performance: a standard performance level and... read more

Eon bets the farm on renewables

The largest German energy firm Eon has made a radical shift in its future business model. Yesterday it announced it will split of its fossil and nuclear fuel activities, including exploration and generation, from the rest of the business and form a new enterprise holding these activities (Eon classic). The remainder of the business (Eon future) will solely focus on the generation of renewable energy and the sale and distribution to users (Eon verabschiedet sich von Atom, Kohle und Gas , Eon to spin off its fossil fuel assets as big losses loom). The name Eon will remain with the “Eon future” part of the split. According to Eon’s CEO Johannes Teyssen the development of the sustainable energy sector has lead to two energy-worlds that require different approaches. The old linear world is made up of a one directional chain where resources as coal, gas and oil are used to generate electricity in large central power stations, which is subsequently distributed to the end users through a vast distribution network. This contrasts with the new world of energy where energy is generated in decentralised clusters of local wind or solar farms and distributed through dynamic networks requiring new relationships between generators and consumers of... read more

Procurement of sustainable buildings

Many consider that creating sustainable buildings is an additional cost. And yet the driver behind creating sustainable buildings is to create value. Value from buildings that cost less to operate. Value from buildings that are healthier and more pleasant to be or work in. Value from buildings that are resilient to future change. With our help you can maximise the value whilst controlling the cost of a sustainable building. The process of the procurement of construction services itself can have a major impact on the cost of sustainable design and construction. Simply including a clause in the tender documents that the building will need to achieve a certain Breeam rating will not lead to value for money and also not necessarily result in a sustainable building. To unlock this potential for value creation it is essential to take account of the balance between capital cost on the one hand and the operational and investment benefits on the other. Addressing the following five points early in the process will help you to ensure that you get this balance right: Appoint team members to cover all key disciplines Systematically identify functionality requirements with the future users Systematically consider life cycle cost Identify the full set of planning and regulatory requirements Develop a sustainability strategy We bring the expertise and tools to your project that will allow you to implement these early actions and provide assurance that the sustainability measures provide value to you and the building... read more

Ten things that can go wrong

As developer you know exactly what you expect a development project to deliver for your business. It is usually relatively straightforward to prepare a development proposal that would deliver exactly that. The reality is of course that a multitude of stakeholders will be affected some way or another by your development proposal. The planning system has been designed to channel all these interests and ensure that development proposals are suitable for the specific location. There is a natural pressure on the programme to ensure planning consent is received without undue delay. The complexity of requirements and the desire to deliver rapid results can lead to mistakes being made. You may recognise some of the issues highlighted below; we have found the top ten of things that can go wrong during the design of the development proposals to be: Planning requirements too expensive to make project viable Planning decision delayed because insufficient information has been submitted. Consulting fees spiralling out of control Judicial review quashes planning consent on procedural grounds. Consent application under the European Habitats Regulations is declined. Fundamental redesign required because land within the development site needs to be found for renewable energy plant. Project on hold waiting for the right season for an ecological survey. Fundamental redesign required due to discovery of the presence of protected species. Project on hold waiting for better weather to complete archaeological survey. Repeating expired surveys Utilising a step by step approach throughout the development project cycle, our unique model helps you to navigate around these and many other pitfalls. Using our approach we can help you manage the design and planning... read more

Breeam a good start is half the job done

For many development projects achieving a certain BREEAM rating is mandated through a planning requirement. To avoid significant additional cost, hassle and programme issues it is critical to allow the early consideration of BREEAM and sustainability measures. Where in the past the planning requirement was often to achieve a “Very Good” rating, the current trend is for local planning authorities to ask for an “Excellent” rating to be achieved. Where careful planning was already necessary to achieve the 55% score required for a “Very Good” rating, BREEAM “Excellent” puts the bar considerably higher at 70%. One of the core aims of BREEAM is to drive the development and implementation of good and best practices in sustainable design and construction of buildings. Early consideration of BREEAM enables the cost effective adoption of sustainability measures within the design of a building. As the graph on the right demonstrates the ability to control the cost of the building is highest in the early stages of a project and is inversely correlated with the cost of design changes. BREEAM recognises the importance of early consideration of the sustainability performance of a project and includes a number of incentives to do so. There are a total of 12 credits available only if certain actions have been taken in the early stages of the project, equivalent to the RIBA stage A to C. Half of these credits would require action before adopting the design brief and should therefore be completed at RIBA stage B. These credits can make a significant contribution to the final score and losing the opportunity to achieve these can put a... read more