The Green Register Blog

For and by sustainable construction professionals

Missing The Fracking Point

Posted on February 1st, 2014

Lucy Pedler | The Green Register 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was developed in the 1940s to recover gas from conventional wells and has more recently ‘revolutionised’ the American energy industry, allowing the USA to become temporarily more energy independent by extracting gas (and oil) from small fractures in the earth’s crust (see the BBC’s short video illustrating the process:...

Posted in Carbon emissions, General News, Low and Zero Carbon Technologies, Recommended, Sustainable Development, Water

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Permitted Development

Posted on January 1st, 2014

Jillian Mitchell | Project Logistics Architecture

In May 2013, changes to the limits and process for building without the need for planning approval came into force, amidst much criticism amongst professionals and politicians alike.  Media headlines heralded rear extensions at double the sizes in previous PD, but left out much of the complex matrix of Parts and Classes which determine if planning approval is required, and made very little mention of the neighbour consultation process required, if an approval is to not be triggered.  See here for a technical explanation of the changes: ...

Posted in Building envelope, Carbon emissions, Features, Legislation, Recommended, Retrofit, Sustainable Development

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Part L 2013 has finally arrived

Posted on December 1st, 2013

Thomas Vazakas | RPS Health, Safety and Environment  

The much anticipated Part L 2013 which was due to come into force in October 2013, following consultation that began in January 2013, was finally officially launched at the beginning of October  During the launch it was promised that the Approved Documents and beta versions of the SAP and SBEM software would be issued within weeks. However it took until the 25th November before Approved Documents L1A and L2A were released and there is still no confirmed release date for the Approved Documents for existing buildings. Meanwhile the test version of SBEM software is due to be...

Posted in Building envelope, Carbon emissions, Legislation, Recommended, Sustainable Development

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Environmental Design to the rescue of Passivhaus

Posted on November 1st, 2013
Rob Rickey | LHC Architecture 

There is no doubt that the PassivHaus standard delivers very low energy buildings. It delivers on comfort and air quality as well, and post-occupancy surveys back this up time after time. What it does not guarantee is aesthetic quality or innovation in materials – that is up to the architect. Among my colleagues, PH buildings are criticised for their stripped-down, boxy appearance. Form factor (surface areas/floor area) suggests a cube as the starting point for a building design – spheres being out of fashion) and some designs do not progress beyond strict utility.

I saw the expression “...

Posted in Building envelope, Carbon emissions, Low and Zero Carbon Technologies, Recommended, Sustainable Development

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Cutting Green Tape

Posted on October 1st, 2013

Lucy Pedler | Director of The Green Register | The Green Register

The UK construction industry finally has the opportunity to comment on the Housing Standards Review (HSR), this being one of the outcomes of the Governments’ Red Tape Challenge (www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/building-regulations-and-related-legislation).

The Government’s premise is that one of the reasons activity in the construction industry has slowed down is the number of codes, standards and regulations – sometimes...

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Understanding the numbers

Posted on September 1st, 2013

Jillian Mitchell |Managing Director | Project Logistics Architecture Limited

I am rarely commissioned by clients who genuinely wish to save the planet or reduce their carbon footprint; I am, conversely, most often commissioned by clients who wish to reduce the amount of money they spend on their energy bills. To me, the two can be one-and-the-same, which I reflect in my design approach, and which is TGR’s mantra: improve insulation and air-tightness, and control ventilation. It can be difficult, however, to find a way of helping clients understand a direct relationship between insulation thickness and a reduction...

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We need a smarter way to use rainwater

Posted on August 1st, 2013

Cath Hassell | ech2o consultants

As rumours swirl around about the demise of the Code for Sustainable Homes, surely now is the time for the Government to take a step back from its ill-advised insistence on forcing rainwater harvesting systems into new dwellings and instead start to incentivise the decoupling of rainwater downpipes from existing buildings.

At its core rainwater harvesting is beautifully simple. You collect rainwater from a clean surface (i.e. a hard roof), filter, store and reuse. Practiced for centuries, rainwater is still used by millions of people around the world who don’t have access to a mains water supply...

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Notes from a surprisingly large country

Posted on July 1st, 2013

Tom Dollard | Head of Sustainable Design | PTEa

Take 14 architects and planners of different abilities, age, personalities and throw them together on a cycling adventure across 4,400 miles of the USA, Ireland and the UK. This was the challenge of the Portland to Portland cycle ride. If things went wrong, “I’m an architect get me out of here!” could be an appropriate name for the TV programme. However, after 42 days on the road, fortunately this was not the case. I left the team at Minneapolis as I had to get back to my work at PTEa, but was satisfied with having made it more than half way across the States. My...

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Sustainability tools - time to look at value

Posted on June 1st, 2013

Chris Hocknell| eight associates

Our current approach to ‘green’ buildings has left me feeling as though we’ve lost sight of our real aim. We need to reiterate what we are trying to achieve and review our methods for achieving it.

The Scene Today

Building on Steve Maslin’s April blog (GR) I believe we have a lot more ground to cover before we achieve ‘sustainability’ within the built environment. Currently, a building’s sustainability tends to be defined by the rating achieved under an environmental assessment method (EAM) such as BREEAM, LEED and CfSH. These EAMs have now been...

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Part L updates – bringing more CO2 emissions to a building near you?

Posted on May 1st, 2013

Rob Burroso

As the next set of “improvements” to Part L of the Building Regulations gets nearer, some of the counter-productivities that the current rules throw up will, to my mind, move from being ‘just a little strange’ to cynics like me, to become serious problems.

To begin with, what level of CO2 emissions reduction from buildings will these new rules actually deliver? Well with 99% of buildings being immune from these revisions (because they're already built) the best we're looking at is a 1% improvement in the short term. The new rules will only be raising an already high bar - “making the best better”. As it is average emissions we're interested in...

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