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Tag Archive climate

10th year of the pioneering SuperHomes Open Days

This year marks the 10th year of SuperHomes, the innovative and multi-award winning national network of over 200 homes which have all reduced their carbon footprint by a minimum of 60%. SuperHome owners will open their doors this September as part of our Open House events, and there is a record 100 free events occurring this year across the UK. 

SuperHomes is a project managed by the National Energy Foundation, an independent charity that aims to reduce the use of energy in buildings.
The Open Days are a great opportunity for visitors to see for themselves both the challenges and benefits associated with making older homes more energy efficient, and view retrofit technologies in action. The free Open House events occur every September where the SuperHome owners provide honest and detailed accounts of their renovation stories and offer invaluable advice and guidance.
Since 2007 SuperHomes has been at the forefront of domestic eco-retrofit and the network continues to lead the way in carbon conscious renovation. To date, 222 homeowners have all transformed their properties through environmentally minded renovation resulting in lower energy bills, smaller carbon footprints and a huge increase in comfort levels.
SuperHomes include all types of houses, ranging from Grade II listed 16th Century ironstone properties to 1990’s build ex-council houses; from 6 bed Victorian mansions to 1940 terraces; from idyllic ecolodge retreats in rural Snowdonia to single story flats in the heart of London.

The technology found within and around the properties is innovative and market leading, and our SuperHomes offer exceptional, and often unique, examples of green technologies.

In addition to the more mature aspects of green renovation such as external wall insulation, solar PV panels and heat pumps, our houses boast a variety of cutting edge technologies such as Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems, green roofs, biomass boilers, and even whole house airtight membranes.

SuperHomes are pioneers in renewable technology and energy efficiency.






We have a number of SuperHomes opening for the first time this year. This includes our most recent addition Pamela whose 1920s ex-Council house in North London is carbon neutral! She achieved this by installing many technologies, including Solar Water Heating, Solar PV Panels and Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery. Visit Pamela on 16th/17th September on a free tour. Another interesting first time opener is Paul from Flintshire who retrofitted his 1960s home for under £10,000, and still managed to achieve a carbon saving of 64%! Visit Paul for a tour on the 9th September to learn about how to keep eco-retrofit affordable. To find an Open Day near you please visit http://www.superhomes.org.uk/get-inspired/events/.

Energy used in the home accounts for more than a quarter of total energy use and carbon emissions in the UK. Houses in the UK are some of the least energy efficient in Europe, and the majority of the housing stock is made up of older homes which are typically very energy inefficient. Without tackling this problem and improving the energy efficiency of homes we will not be able to meet our emissions target of an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 to meet the requirements of the legally binding Climate Change Act. Open House events like SuperHomes are great ways to distribute knowledge and passion about retrofit, and persuade people to take the carbon conscious decision to reduce energy use in their home.

The current, post-Green Deal (the Coalition Government’s flagship energy efficiency policy that was scrapped in 2015), climate, with lowered green incentives and a distinct lack of interest from subsequent governments has seen the focus on eco-retrofit waver. Yet the refurbishment of our homes and buildings is one of the greatest challenges we face to reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change. SuperHomes harnesses the enthusiasm of our energy saving pioneers to stimulate community-led renovation.
SuperHome Open Days occur throughout the year with a co-ordinated national event throughout September. Most of our openings coincide with Heritage Open Days (7-10th September) and London Open House (16/17th September). To find out more visit www.superhomes.org.uk
To help SuperHomes celebrate this anniversary we’ve partnered with the Ecology Building Society who are supporting this year’s September openings.

SuperHome owner #59, Mark Brown stands in front of his 1980’s detached house. The High Wycombe property has achieved 90% carbon savings. Visit on 9th/10th September.

The Purse is Mightier Than the Pen – by @GeorgeMonbiot

Having attended a fantastic talk on Loneliness by George on the 5th of November 2016 I got to talk to a man who has inspired many to tackle climate change, to keep it in the ground, to fight for the world in which we all live. It was a humbling experience and to hear him talk with such passion about loneliness (an area of real potency for me) too was a real honour. Thanks George and all who like you continue to inspire in the face of unprecedented destruction and seemingly immovable and irreversible tides. Some sections of this take on more significance then many would have expected, particularly over level of will and US involvement with climate deals following the presidential election.



The climate crisis is here, now, but a compromised, corrupted media doesn’t want to know.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 3rd August 2016

What is salient is not important. What is important is not salient. The media turns us away from the issues that will determine the course of our lives, and towards topics of brain-melting irrelevance.

Television channel controllers, perhaps the least accountable arbiters in public life, see themselves as edgy and provocative, but they have purged from the schedules almost all challenges to established power. Newspapers style themselves defenders of free speech, but within their own pages most of them stamp out dissenting voices and dissonant topics. If you are scarcely aware of what confronts us, don’t blame yourself.

This, on current trends, will be the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st Century. Each of the past 14 months has beaten the global monthly temperature record. But you can still hear people repeating the old claim, first proposed by fossil fuel lobbyists, that global warming stopped in 1998.

Arctic sea ice covered a smaller area last winter than in any winter since records began. In Siberia, an anthrax outbreak is raging through the human and reindeer populations, because infected corpses locked in permafrost since the last epidemic in 1941 have thawed. India has been hammered by cycles of drought and flood, as extreme heating parches the soil and torches glaciers in the Himalayas. Southern and eastern Africa have been pitched into humanitarian emergencies by drought. Wildfires storm across America; coral reefs around the world are bleaching and dying.

Throughout the media, these tragedies are reported as impacts of El Nino: a natural weather oscillation caused by blocks of warm water forming in the Pacific. But the figures show that it accounts for only one fifth of the global temperature rise. The El Nino phase has now passed, but still the records fall.

Eight months ago in Paris, 177 nations promised to try to ensure that the world’s average temperature did not rise by more than 1.5C above the pre-industrial level. Already it has climbed by 1.3C – faster and further than almost anyone predicted. In one respect, the scientists were wrong. They told us to expect a climate crisis in the second half of this century. But it’s already here.

If you blinked you would have missed the reports, but perhaps the most striking aspect of the Democratic platform (the party’s manifesto) approved in Philadelphia last week was its position on climate change. Hillary Clinton’s campaign now promises a national and global mobilisation “on a scale not seen since World War II.” She will seek to renegotiate trade deals to protect the living world, to stop oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic and to ensure America is “running entirely on clean energy by mid-century.”

There are some crashing contradictions in the platform. To judge by one bizarre paragraph, the Democrats believe they can solve climate change by expanding roads and airports. It boasts about record sales in the car industry and promises to cut “red tape”, which is the term used by corporate lobbyists for the public protections they hate. But where it is good it is very good, reflecting the influence of Bernie Sanders and the nominees he proposed to the drafting committee.

Trump, on the other hand – well, what did you expect? Climate change is a “con-job” and a “hoax”, that was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”. His platform reads like a love letter to the coal industry. Coal, it says, “is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.” He will defend the industry by rejecting the Paris agreement, stopping funds for the UN’s climate change work, ditching Obama’s clean power plan and forbidding the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide.




What’s most alarming about the platform is that Trump didn’t write it: the deranged and contradictory bluster of the Republican party leadership is a collective effort. But at least it clears something up. Though boasting of his great wealth and power, he poses as the friend of the common citizen and the enemy of corporate capital. On every significant issue in the platform, corporate capital wins. To read it is to discover where the land lies and where the lies land.

Incidentally, Trump’s executives don’t share his belief that climate change is a hoax. His golf resort in Ireland is seeking permission to build a wall – not to keep out Mexicans, but to defend his business from rising sea levels, erosion and storm surges caused, the application says, by global warming. If you can buy your way out of trouble, who cares about the other seven billion?

It’s not that the media failed to mention what the two platforms said about humanity’s existential crisis. But the coverage was, for the most part, relegated to footnotes, while the evanescent trivia of the conventions led the bulletins and filled the front pages. There are many levels of bias in the media, but the most important is the bias against relevance.

In Britain, the media largely failed to hold David Cameron to account for his extravagant green promises and shocking record. Theresa May has made some terrible appointments, but the new climate change minister, Nick Hurd, is an interesting choice, as he seems to understand the subject. The basic problem, however, is that the political costs of failure are so low.

To pretend that newspapers and television channels are neutral arbiters of such matters is to ignore their place at the corrupt heart of the establishment. At the US conventions, to give one small example, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and Politico were paid by the American Petroleum Institute to host discussions, which provided a platform for climate science deniers. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the purse is mightier than the pen.

Why should we trust multinational corporations to tell us the truth about multinational corporations? And if they cannot properly inform us about the power in which they are embedded, how can they properly inform us about anything?

If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse, only with a social licence to operate. The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the one for which I work.

www.monbiot.com




Are we ‘falling or rolling towards a GREEN age?’ By @MarIntroini

Being GREEN is not just another fashion trend made up of recycling, eating ecological food or the use of solar panels, as many skeptics would argue. Being green means awareness of the negative impact of relentless climate change that needs us as individual to act to make a real difference. If not, every attempt is reduced to a mere commercial goal that doesn’t change the situation and is not able to reform the system either. However switching to a green age has become a matter of fashion, and a profitable business. The business is to promote products or services provided by a green label that gives an image of a modern and sensible business, one that cares for the environment.




Binge GREEN also has an emotional element, that it is the feeling of trying out new habits and changing the old codes of our daily life. Little sacrifices/efforts such as reducing cars circulation, recycling, buying ecological food, changing use of water or electricity suppliers and they all could make a big difference. 1st you change an attitude then a strategy, that is the main secret to building a new life. The emotional aspect is essential in the process and consists of being devoid of fear to the new and starts a sustainable process towards green habits.

The most effective way to address revolutionary changes is it through the educational system that transforms minds and build a new way of living individual and professionally. Until this critical moment arrives it reminds in our minds the idea that environment issues are not a matter of private concerns but a public issue that needs to be regulated at State level without individual efforts.  However, individual attitudes are paramount and cannot be entirely dominated by a public authority. That is the importance to educate and convince people of the relentless impact of climate change and the influential impact of our private behavior. Educating present and future generations towards green patterns of behavior. Literally the conjunction of individual efforts could have a crucial impact on global crisis, not only climate change but also other crises like migration. In Ghana people are forcing to migrate because of the dramatic rise of the sea that submerge entirely villages.

In political aspects leaders committed with the environment need to reform their agenda substantially giving priority to strategies and budget around adaptation, and investment on natural resources. In the near future green parties would not exist and will give way to an entire green political class, above political ideologies. To be green is no a chapter in the political agenda anymore but a part of a solid project to any country with higher or reduced risks to be impacted by climate change.

Investment in Education programs and educate actors of the civil society around green matters become a central pillar for building resilience and to educate the political class.

Be Green and not die trying must be the motto for the coming decades. More than ever, individual efforts are more effective and more feasible to achieve results in the short term than big bureaucratic public initiatives have tended to be.

“Falling” or “rolling” into a new Green age? For new generations means “rolling” as is part of their education process. For the latest and the skeptics means “falling” resigning to old codes of habits by integrating new concepts.

Never mind if you are falling or rolling, being green is the only sustainable investment at an individual level…. thus it is just a matter of time…




This post was originally posted by @MarIntroini for their blog : thesustainabilityreader.com