02/12/2009 3:21 pm
Can anybody please enlighten me with what a 'zero carbon development' is? Or where I can find the information?
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02/12/2009 3:23 pm
In a public library, where you do not have to pay a penny to get as much as you wish about this subject and others.
02/12/2009 3:37 pm
There is no such thing as 'zero carbon'. It's utter nonsense.
02/12/2009 6:04 pm
A 'zero carbon' development is one where carbon emissions as a result of the home being occupied are zero. In many cases (which I think Alan is alluding to) this is achieved through some trickery around 'net emissions' and spurious claims that certain fuels (such as wood) do not lead to carbon emissions as trees absorb CO2 whilst growing.
In a housing context, your best starting point is probably to google the 'Code for Sustainable Homes', which is the benchmark that RSLs develop new homes against. Achieving level 6 of the code means that a home is considered carbon neutral.
Some background reading:
If you're near Watford, you can go and see what they look like:
03/12/2009 12:00 pm
In a nutshell, a zero-carbon home is one which generates as much power (or even more) as it uses over the course of a year, thus having net zero CO2 emissions. This includes CO2 emissions as a result of all energy used in the home, i.e. energy consumed in the operation of space heating/cooling and hot-water systems, ventilation, all internal lighting cooking and all electrical appliances. It does not take account of so-called ‘embodied’ carbon in any building materials used (i.e. the CO2 generated during the manufacturing process). All new homes are required to be zero-carbon from 2016 onwards. The transition to zero carbon will be managed by gradually strengthening the energy / carbon performance in the building regulations - by 25% in 2010 and 44% in 2013.
03/12/2009 4:21 pm
"In a nutshell, a zero-carbon home is one which generates as much power (or even more) as it uses over the course of a year, thus having net zero CO2 emissions."
No, that just cannot be right. The process of generating power can involve high CO2 emissions or low CO2 emissions. Just producing as much power as you use can't by itself result in zero carbon emission. In fact it could double it, or worse.
There must at least be a sentence missing from this definition; something exoplaining how the power is generated, or how it compensates for power used elsewhere.
03/12/2009 4:41 pm
John, if a home is able to meet all its power needs from solar panels or wind turbines and all of its hot water needs from solar hot water, its operation does not lead to any carbon emissions.
03/12/2009 4:48 pm
What about the emissions in transporting the wind turbine or solar panels to the house? What about the emissions in maintaining them?
03/12/2009 5:05 pm
Alan, indeed. Many low or zero carbon developments attempt to mitigate this by sourcing products locally, using recycled products etc to minimise the carbon emissions. This can then be offset either by planting on the site (if it was brownfield) or paying someone to plant some trees somewhere else.
You may have noticed that both Debbie and I have used phrases such as 'in operation', 'as a result of being occupied' and 'over the course of a year'. That is deliberate. Only an idiot would pretend that the construction of a new home is a zero-carbon activity but, yes, I am aware that there are plenty of idiots out there doing just that right now.
03/12/2009 7:17 pm
Sancho: thank you for helping explain this to me, but I'm still puzzled.
Firstly, Debbie said a zero carbon house is one that generates over a year as much energy as it uses or more.
I queried this, pointing out that generating energy can be done in different ways, with different amounts of carbon emission, and you clarified that what was meant was that the energy generation in question was achieved in low or non carbon emitting ways like solar heating, photovoltaic panels or wind turbines.
But surely then it is the energy generation that is carbon neutral and not the house. And it wouldn't make any difference if that energy was generated by, say, a wind turbine on the roof, or by a wind farm a few miles away that supplied whole streets.
I know I'm often sarcastic, but I'm not now making fun. I'd fully agree that the less emission the better, but I'm struggling to understand this concept of "net zero emission" as the property of a single house, and I'm starting to wonder whether it might not be a misleadingly individualised target.
03/12/2009 7:21 pm
Of course 'zeron carbon' is misleading. It's all smoke and mirrors. As I've already explained there is no such thing.
03/12/2009 7:26 pm
Let me correct myself and save you the bother of at least one element. Rereading the above, I see you talk about both homes and developments. So my characterisation as "individualised" was not fair. Still I'm puzzled, and still I think I'm right to say it is the energy generation and only secondarily the homes "wired" up to it that is zero or low carbon.
04/12/2009 12:24 pm
John, I'm not sure where you're coming from in terms of outlook on this, but I am personally something of a green sceptic, whilst also spending a lot of time working towards making homes as sustainable as possible. I think a lot of the drive from my side isn't about trying to get a certificate for being carbon neutral (whatever that is) but about using renewable energy and water recycling to drive down utility bills for residents.
I think you're correct to say that it is the energy generation and not the home per se that is carbon neutral, but that is a bit like saying that it is not the home, but the people living in it, that emit carbon in the first place or, indeed, that it is the roof, not the house, that keeps the occupants dry.
"Carbon-neutral" is, of course, a misnomer. Beyond the obvious 'embodied carbon' and 'carbon to construct' elements, there is the important point that the earth is a closed system and we can neither create nor destroy carbon. Effectively, everthing is carbon neutral in the end.
04/12/2009 4:10 pm
My understanding is that there have been times in history (when mankind never roamed the earth) where greenhouse gas levels were 200 times higher than what they are today. There can be no ‘saving the planet’, simply because nature itself destroys the earth’s atmosphere. Environmentalists also conveniently forget that the earth is an evolving process and will burn to a crisp frazzle in a few millions years time once the sun burns itself out. Make the most of it, that’s what I say.
06/12/2009 2:45 pm
"...Fri, 4 Dec 2009 16:10 GMT
My understanding is that there have been times in history (when mankind never roamed the earth) where greenhouse gas levels were 200 times higher than what they are today.... "
It does not mean that the living creatures roaming the earth at the time before mankind might not have contribute to climate change... If, for example the herbivores species before humankind, had reached the numbers of todays human population, every green land would have turned into a desert, affected climate change, and these creatures would have deprived themselves of food and so ending up extinct...
Of course they were herbivores and just thought about eating grass without another thought about tomorrow.
However the difference is human kind can and must think about the future and while those eleocene hervicores did not do anything about it and cancelled themselves out of the natural world we got to do something about it to avoid or at least delay the same fate for humankind.
06/12/2009 2:57 pm
Apart from carbon or no carbon, climate change issues have borught about a new level of consciousness and appreciation and passion about the world we live in, especially in the young. that in itself is an achievement unthinkable if attempted with any other means.
06/12/2009 3:30 pm
That wouldn't be 'the young' who in a nationwide survey thought that potato's grew on trees, would it lol
06/12/2009 5:15 pm
I am still confused.
"It does not take account of so-called ‘embodied’ carbon in any building materials used (i.e. the CO2 generated during the manufacturing process)."
But the Code states,
"Credits are awarded for responsible sourcing of materials through auditable third
party certification schemes.
This means that the consequences and impacts of using materials must be considered
from the point at which they are mined or harvested in their raw state, through
manufacture and processing, through use, reuse and recycling, until their final
disposal as waste with no further value."
The detail of the Code is still new to me, but is the point that Alan is making ?
06/12/2009 5:42 pm
I agree, and this just demonstrates how these environmentalists and policy makers come up with harebrained wording when they say: ‘that the consequences and impacts of using materials must be considered from the point at which they are mined or harvested in their raw state, through manufacture and processing, through use, reuse and recycling, until their final disposal as waste with no further value.'
During the degradable processes there is no such thing as a point of no further value. When microorganisms begin to work on breaking down substances underground they generate heat during the living and dying processes which enables to the process to continue on and on without interruption. There is no end.
Microorganisms create the ‘living fraction’ of soil particles, others being the mineral fraction (sand, silt and clay), gaseous fraction (oxygen and carbon dioxide) and liquid fraction (water). It is a continuous process.
06/12/2009 7:14 pm
"Sun, 6 Dec 2009 15:30 GMT
That wouldn't be 'the young' who in a nationwide survey thought that potato's grew on trees, would it lol "
No, I am talking about the young who campaign, study, and work on climate changes and related issues to make the planet a better place... You might be confusing potatoes with avocados, perhaps... unless it's lemons.
07/12/2009 4:01 am
Erich Fromm in The Fear of Freedom believed that the reason why many people turn to subjects like the environment and history is because it makes them feel more powerful. People like these actually believe they can save the whole planet. It gives them a great sense of omnipotence.
I’ve been there. I ran a high-profile environmental project and I know how all these international environmental policies can make you feel as if you doing something, but actually you aren’t. It’s all in the mind. Environmentalists thus get hooked on the subsequent publicity and have to continually come up with newer and more spurious claims in order to feed their addiction. This is why I believe that they come up with this daft carbon footprint and zero carbon thingamajig. It is new but it is also nonsense.
Of course the thing that environmentalists won’t admit either is that they are addicted to feeling powerful from the publicity surrounding environmental issues. Nor will they confess that what research has shown, that coming up with spurious claims only serves to put the wider public off getting involved in environmental issues.
As I have said time and time again, to me it is plain daftness that environmentalists should be focusing on issues like carbon neutral schemes at a time in history when young people are so naive about green issues they think potatoes grow on trees. Common sense would tell you that environmentalists should be starting at the bottom and helping young people understand the very basics of how nature works.
They won’t do that though. They won’t because environmentalists are not made to feel powerful enough by explaining to children the difference between a tree and a humble spud. What they need to give them their buzz if big eco conferences where they can shake hands and pat each other’s backs. They love that.
07/12/2009 12:05 pm
"... They won’t do that though. They won’t because environmentalists are not made to feel powerful enough by explaining to children the difference between a tree and a humble spud. What they need to give them their buzz if big eco conferences where they can shake hands and pat each other’s backs. They love that. "
Well, of course there is all that going on, but at the end of the day young people are not stupid. Even those young people who according to you do not know spuds from lemons, will quickly call a spade a spade as they will call demagogue any environmentalist, as soon as they'll get a whiff he or she is just spouting hot air.
08/12/2009 9:22 am
I see the chair of the Copenhagen Environment Summit is saying that the summit is the “last chance” to save the world. It’s not like. But it does make her feel awfully powerful to say that. She said that it was also down to her and every world leader in the conference room to change things for the better. Sounds good that too doesn’t it? It sort of gives the impression that she has all the world leaders in the palm of her hand. Word trickery again you see.
Of course the one thing she doesn’t say is that helping the environment is also down to the little old lady in a high-rise tower block who grows organic vegetables in her window box. Doesn’t have the same ring to it that.
08/12/2009 10:03 am
".... Of course the one thing she doesn’t say is that helping the environment is also down to the little old lady in a high-rise tower block who grows organic vegetables in her window box. Doesn’t have the same ring to it that.... "
This HOG (head of governement) lady might well make the most of it for herself and her career... no doubt about it... However, to be fair, I have heard a few politicians speeches and most of them defiintely stress that is down to each one of us in our own personal lives, any little thing we can do...
I am afraid this might also be another way for these HOGS to shirk their responsibiltities as a way of blaming each one of us for the things that go wrong rather than their shoddy leaderships.
08/12/2009 10:19 am
By the way, continually quoting other people when reply to their responses is a sign of needing power as well. It often signifies that scribblers are not “original” enough to think of their own responses and use others words to boost their standing ;) 'Tis an irritating habit some people have.
08/12/2009 10:58 am
"...Tue, 8 Dec 2009 10:19 GMT
By the way, continually quoting other people when reply to their responses is a sign of needing power as well. It often signifies that scribblers are not “original” enough to think of their own responses and use others words to boost their standing ;) 'Tis an irritating habit some people have.... "
Oh, yes, I am power hungry.... I really feel left out and upset for not chairing the Copenhagen Summit...
And I thought I would use quoting so readers would know to which previous post in the thread, or part of the previous posts, the current post is referring to...
Unless being irritated by being quoted is a sign the irritated one is too power hungry himself to allow fvor any irritation.
08/12/2009 11:09 am
I always thought the title of this column was Ask The Experts, not welcome to the playpen
08/12/2009 11:16 am
"...Tue, 8 Dec 2009 11:09 GMT
I always thought the title of this column was Ask The Experts, not welcome to the playpen."
And of course you are the official expert in carbon to post here now?
08/12/2009 1:54 pm
I do do my bit to save the planet you know. When I used to wash the dishes in the sink the slops used to cause a smell which meant I had to go to the shops to buy disinfectant and put it down the sink two to three times a week. Now I bought myself a nice beige plastic basin to wash the dishes in. It uses less water and I go outside and pour the slops down the drain. No smell now.
08/12/2009 2:50 pm
Instead of throwing old or used and sometimes even new items away and ending up in landfills where they take centiries to rot, is better to have a look around if there is a charity looking for them, especially for electricals, books, etc. You will be surprised to find out how many people would love to have what you do not need anymore... So when you do get tired with that plastic basin let me know, as I might need it.
08/12/2009 6:23 pm
Noooooooo recycling is bad for the environment. I feel sorry for those people who travel two miles to put the empty bottles in a bottle bank. Don’t they realise that the pollutants they churn out into the atmosphere driving there and back is a far greater that those emitted in producing another couple of bottles or sending them to landfill.
It would be more environmental friendly for you to buy a new dish that me send my old one down south by car or rail. I recycle absolutely nothing.
08/12/2009 11:52 pm
Tue, 8 Dec 2009 18:23 GMT
Ok, so what you are really saying is that we do not have any problem on the climate and environment front,... However there is the whole Copenhagen Summit stating that you are the one in the wrong here. So how are you going to convince everybody elose they are all wrong?
09/12/2009 10:35 am
Kass dear, I’m not sure what planet you are living on, but if you think that the movers and shakers at the Copenhagen summit are going to achieve anything then you’re greatly mistaken. They are already squabbling like ferrets in a sack over developing nations not getting a fairer say. It has been like that since the very first Rio summit years ago. Little ever changes.
Summits like these are merely talking shops. Hasn’t it clicked with you yet? If I have already explained that millions of young children in this country can’t make the very basic association about where potatoes grow, then can you not grasp the fundamental point that what world leaders say is having no impact whatsoever at grassroots level. For young people to change their view of environmental issues there would have to be some contact at a local level. People rubbing shoulders and shaking hands in Copenhagen won’t change these youngsters’ hearts and minds.
09/12/2009 10:40 am
I disagree, I am afraid. I'd rather have these heads of governments squabbling as you say about climate change and environment that completely ignoring these issues.
16/12/2009 11:08 am
Enough said. The Copenhagen summit lies in tatters with most agreeing that no real agreement will be achieved. Even the Danish Minister and President has resigned. What a farce.
16/12/2009 11:42 am
So the protesters in the street were right after all, and they got arrested for disrutping the summit. It looks like they should have arrested the heads of governemnts for wasting all that money and time only to squander the summit. Any terrorist organisation would have been proud of achieving such a result.
16/12/2009 11:49 am
Millions of people across the globe knew that the summit would achieve little, and even if I had the money, I certainly wouldn’t travel to Copenhagen, and pollute the environment in doing so, simply to tell everyone what I knew already. Bit of a pointless bit of flag-waving grumbling methinks. Still, if it floats their boat...
28/01/2011 9:08 am
Most solar panels and wind turbines will probably be mostly made in China, this will especially be the case if they're going to be more "sustainable propeties built". (So will be built to cost and shipped over)
Trouble is, China will be building these windymills and panels powered by the most filthlist Power Stations going, apparently China are knocking out a new coal power station a week and apparently want to build a road infrastructure to overtake all the American Highways built to date within the next ten years.
We then ship these units in and plug it all together and find that the vast majority of wind turbines don't have enough wind to power them, or it's to windy and they have to be locked down as they become to dangerous, all the while the Power Stations have to still keep the Power Station going, electricty has to be keep going wether there is a dip or excess in the grid it cannot be turn on and off like a tap.
Same for Solar panels, they are a lot better, but in the depth of winter they in general can't provide the resources required.
Ground Source and Air source heat are a much better form of free power, but limited to fitment in high density areas. With all the new up and coming countries coming online China, India, Africa, Brazil seems like a sticking plaster over a massive trauma.