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What Is The Concern Of Environmental Building Politics?


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#1 joiner

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 02:30 PM

What is it that makes this particular kind of "politics" different from, say, changes in tax legislation, or the introduction of new standards in Building Regulations, or Planning Policy Statements that swing the balance in favour of social housing?

Not particularly difficult to answer. The politics of environmental building, which has come to mean energy-efficient building (which is how it's used here), is characterised by the extent to which opposing sides in the debate have become polarised, depending on how far they've had to come in accepting that climate change is happening and is man-made (anthropomorphic) and therefore can be, if not reversed, then at least slowed and hopefully halted.

The politics comes down to three debatable points:

Whether there is a problem;

By how much it is a problem;

What, if anything, should be done and how should it be done?

As even the most basic understanding of those fundamental points implies, the "politics" of environmental building has to do with many issues, for example:

Wind turbine location, specifically the issue of setback distances and the (still) raging controversy over the standard applied to measure potential for noise nuisance, ETSU-R-97. Despite the controversy over its suitability, the commissioning by DECC of the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) consultation study that seeks not to change the standard but to define guidelines to make its application more robust, seems to confirm government policy in that area. In the face of all the empirical evidence, is that fair, just, and sensible, given the costs associated with consequent appeals by either side?

Issues relating to tidal barrages and the flooding of upland areas for hydro schemes – consistent and proven generation on the one hand and a much-needed method of storage of otherwise inconsistent wind generated electricity. But do those considerations outweigh the value of landscape?

And on a European scale, the blurring of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) by introducing the idea of scheme-compliant co-fired systems that satisfy CO2 targets but result in increases in health problems (with massive associated costs to the NHS that run into £billions), openly acknowledged by DECC, due to the UK's lax emission standards compared to most of the EU, which doesn't make us popular with the Scandinavian countries because we're dumping many of those emissions on them.

In the panic to achieve largely self-imposed CO2 reduction targets, does the UK have an energy policy that is worth the price the government is asking us to pay, both in terms of what we're giving up in landscape amenity, public health, and in the financial cost of subsidies to renewables?

Welcome to environmental politics. This is just a taster!

;)

Edited by joiner, 25 August 2012 - 02:32 PM.


#2 joiner

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 09:08 AM

Bit misleading of my implying that it had little to do with "the introduction of new standards in Building Regulations" because it can have a hell of a lot to do with it.

The 'Green Deal' is one such initiative that has raised hackles, and concerns, because of the way it has been framed and its intended funding stream...

http://www.decc.gov....green_deal.aspx

Likewise the BC requirement to upgrade the render of a whole house if more than 25% of its external wall area needs repair.

Well-intentioned initiatives, but hardly practical if you're working to a budget or, as in the latter case above, are having to do the work as a matter of urgency and are having to scrabble to find the money just to do the basic work necessary to stop any further damage.

Shall we also raise the matter of the soon to be committed to the deep S106 payments? Ironic that they'll now be missed when the more onerous prospect of the CIL looms on the horizons of even more local authorities...

http://www.communiti...astructurelevy/

Edited by joiner, 26 August 2012 - 09:10 AM.