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ebuild is sad to announce its closure - it has become too time and resource intensive to develop, manage and maintain.

However, ebuild will remain on-line in archive mode (ie no posting facilties) for several weeks so that users can use it as an information resource.

CSH3 ^ CSH4


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#1 joiner

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 02:17 PM

It is possible with no financial penalties...

http://www.aimc4.com/page.jsp?id=1

#2 jsharris

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 03:52 PM

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......build of a minimum of 12 world class energy efficient homes..........

Hmmm.................. Since when has CfSH Level 4 been "world class"? Even CfSH Level 6 isn't really world class, as I would define world class as being better than Passivhaus. Passivhaus has been around as the energy efficient home benchmark since 1991, and arguably we should now, 24 years later, be aiming to build homes to a better level than this.

The UK has the poorest standard of new house construction in Europe. Despite changes in regulations we still build bloody awful new homes that need far, far too much energy to run. There's no excuse for it, the building trade needs a good kick up the backside.

If anyone argues that cost is the problem, then they need to see what it really costs to build to Passivhaus standard. In our case I think we're probably going to come in at about the same, or perhaps slightly less, build cost than had we opted to build to something like CfSH Level 4 using UK conventional building practices.

#3 joiner

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:47 PM

Try getting that across to the industry though.

At least this is a start, even if it has been like shovelling sand uphill!

#4 joiner

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 07:08 AM

Bloody idiots!

http://www.telegraph...blown-away.html

#5 jsharris

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 07:30 AM

It gets worse. Someone I spoke to yesterday who's on the inside of the system mentioned that because of the political pressure being applied by the big developers to the government over CfSH, and because local authorities are strapped for cash, one option being considered is to allow developers to buy a higher CfSH rating by making an offset payment to the local authority.

This could mean that a developer builds homes to, say CfSH level 3, then pays a fee to the local authority to have them rated as CfSH level 6, with the fee being used by the local authority to provide an equivalent carbon offset in other areas of expenditure.

The result could be that developers carry on building rubbish in order to keep their profits up and take the modest hit on the additional charge for getting a higher than deserved rating as just another business expense, like CIL and Section 106 contributions. The scheme is being suggested, apparently, as being similar to the carbon credit scheme that already applies in industry.

The poor old house owners who buy these new homes, believing them to be energy efficient and low carbon will, in fact, be getting a bog-standard, barely meets building regs home.

My hope is that some, perhaps those with enough understanding of how much energy a home like this should use, will notice and call out on this scam, if it goes ahead.

Edited by jsharris, 21 November 2013 - 07:31 AM.


#6 ProDave

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 08:00 AM

So let me get this right.

The builder will pay some money to the council.

They will then sell a house with a certificate claiming it is better than it really is.

There is only one word for that. FRAUD

The builder / council consortium will be guilty of defrauding the house buyer, and the law should deal with that crime in the normal
way.

If you sold a new car claiming a better MPG than it really was capable of you would be punished. Why is selling houses different?

Edited by ProDave, 21 November 2013 - 08:01 AM.


#7 jsharris

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 08:15 AM

I agree, it does seem like fraud, but there's already a precedent. The carbon credit system allows exactly this process to happen legally. A company can buy carbon credits to avoid having to clean up it's own carbon emissions; in effect it's paying someone else to lower theirs to below the requirements so offsetting their dirty operation.

In this instance the developers want to do the same thing. They will pay the local authority for a better CfSH rating, and the local authority will then use that money to lower the carbon footprint elsewhere in the region to compensate.

In carbon terms (which is what CfSH is about, primarily) it is fine, the overall level of CO2 emitted in the region is as it would be if the homes really were CfSH level 6. The energy use is a side effect - CfSH isn't about energy directly, it's about carbon footprint, so energy use is only incidental to it, in that energy is treated in terms of CO2 emissions, not cost to the homeowner.

The car analogy works if you consider the CO2 emissions rather than the fuel consumption. Say a car manufacturer produced a big 4 x 4 that would normally fall into the highest emissions category, so attract the highest road tax. Now, say they were to buy carbon credits for the lifetime CO2 of that car such that they could then rate it in the zero road tax category. The fuel consumption would remain high, but because of the carbon offset the road tax category would be the lowest possible.

#8 joiner

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 08:54 AM

Heard that expressed as something to be on our guard about yesterday, but the guy I was talking to didn't have anything definitive to cite and I put it down to his putting 2 and 2 together and making five, stupidly assuming that no government could be so bloody stupid that they'd think we'd fall for that one.

#9 jsharris

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 09:09 AM

My source was within local government!

Clearly this seems to be something doing the rounds as a discussion topic within government/local government. I can't say I'm surprised, as when viewed from the governments perspective, taking into account the fact that they are in the pockets of the big house developers (literally in the case of Tory party contributions!), it makes a sad sort of sense. More cash gets circulated, which helps the economy, overall the carbon targets that CfSH was supposed to contribute to get the same contribution and the big developers and energy companies get to keep making big profits. The only losers are those who buy these new homes expecting them to use less energy as they are CfSH level 6, but who fail to realise that there is a direct connection between CfSH and actual house energy consumption, only an indirect one to regional carbon emissions.

#10 jsharris

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 09:33 AM

Quote

David Cameron reportedly tells aides to 'get rid of the green c**p'


http://www.telegraph...e-green-cp.html

It seems that he's seriously going to shoot himself in the foot here, as there are an increasing number of people who would fit the demographic of being Tory voters and who are now coming around to the view that looking after our environment, reducing energy use by design and adopting "green" measures like fitting PV on the roof, is a good thing.

I'll happily bet that the majority of people who fitted PV in the past couple of years were those with a bit of spare cash to invest and who fit the normal profile of a Tory voter. Not all were, I'm sure, but I bet more than half of them were. If David Cameron is so deep in the pockets of the developers and energy companies that he feels this outweighs the impact it may have on his party reputation, then I think he's probably condemning his party to being in opposition once again.

Edited by jsharris, 21 November 2013 - 09:34 AM.


#11 tony51

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 02:34 PM

Why are house-builders always cast as the villains and the house-buyers as the poor and exploited?
We need more houses, not more red-tape; CfSH is a waste of time.
I have done several applications for developers building houses in ones and twos,
and we ended up just cutting-and-pasting rubbish into CfSH reports, including nonsense such as cycle sheds, washing lines and sourcing materials locally etc.
Nobody in planning ever read them, and the builders didn't bother implementing them because the house-buyers weren't that bothered - they just wanted a house.

#12 jsharris

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 03:19 PM

The problem is that house builders are, in the main, building rubbish houses that don't even meet current building regs, and they aren't exactly great in terms of energy efficiency, and energy costs will end up being the biggest part of the cost of a house through life, so should be a target for reduction if we want to bring costs down to home owners.

I wholeheartedly agree that more red tape is the last thing we need, but somehow we've got to stop house builders cheating the regs and building houses that use far, far more energy than they need to. A source within the local authority recently told me that he believed that about 60% of new housing stock failed to meet the insulation and airtightness requirements of the regs (and as already mentioned these regs are the poorest in Europe already in terms of trying to reduce energy consumption). Paul Buckingham has found much the same as reported in this paper: http://www.aecb.net/...energy-savings/ I witnessed first hand, on two sites I visited when we were looking for a builder, short cuts being taken, like gaps in insulation, no sealing around cavity trays (in fact no cavity tray or closures at all on one build - the window frame just straddled the cavity!). These were all new houses being built on small developments. One builder openly admitted on one of these site visits that they took time when building the first house to get everything right, so it'd pass inspection, then just left all the sealing out of the rest of them as they didn't need to be inspected and sealing cost time and money!

There is, without a shadow of doubt, a culture in the UK of building rubbish houses by the big developers. Maybe the smaller companies are better, but based on my evidence I'd say they aren't in the main.

These are the reasons you'll hear me casting some housebuilders as villains, it's because there seems to be a lot of evidence to suggest that many, perhaps most, are just ignoring the regs and building to rubbish thermal and airtightness levels.

#13 tony51

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 05:49 PM

The reason why most new houses don't comply with Part L is due to the inspection regime. Like many loft conversion companies, volume house-builders don't use Local Authority B.C., but private inspectors instead. If a private inspector is being paid by the builder to inspect the builder's work, he's not going to rock the boat as he won't then get any more fees from them - the builder willl simply choose another private inspector. Its a part of the bigger problem of self-regulation.

As for the red-tape, if we scrapped all the reports/statements/assessments etc required for planning applications, the money saved on expensive consultants and experts could be spent on better insulation. One final point is that planning departments seem to increasingly get involved with energy efficiency and sustainability etc. Yet officers are rarely qualified to assess measures which should really be dealt with by Building Control.

#14 jsharris

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 06:22 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Tony. The current system allows unscrupulous builders to get away with taking short cuts with ease.

I also wholeheartedly agree about the high cost and delays introduced by all the various reports needed by planning etc, in my view an awful lot of them are just job creation schemes for consultants.

The basic problem remains though, in that very few builders are offering guaranteed good energy performance homes. Take our build as example. The builder offers (by default as part of the package) a guarantee that the house will meet passive house levels of airtightness, and stands by this by making the final stage payment (which is close to 20% of the total) dependent on the air test giving a result that meets or exceeds the Passivhaus Institute value (which is several times tighter than our building regs require). How many big developers would offer such a guarantee? Very few would even contemplate offering a guarantee that they'd meet Part L, let alone something several times tougher!

Edited by jsharris, 21 November 2013 - 06:22 PM.


#15 joiner

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 06:25 PM

LP departments have no business getting involved in energy efficiency and sustainability, it's not part of their remit, especially since planners (following the lead of Pickles, et al) have effectively re-defined the true meaning of sustainability to the point where the word is meaningless.

And, as you so rightly say, they are rarely (if ever) "qualified to assess measures which should really be dealt with by Building Control." In other words, they should mind their own business, they cause enough problems in that area without looking for others. :angry: