AECB News : Soapbox

Green Memes 2 : Can we build our way out of climate crisis?

Just exactly how much, and how quickly, can we reduce carbon emissions from heating England’s new and existing homes – and can we justify the embodied carbon emissions of the materials and products used? The AECB takes a deep dive into the figures using their simple PHPP-based building stock modeling tool as Andrew Simmonds and Lenny Antonelli chart the group’s recent work with Tim Martel and Green Party energy policy advisor Tony Firkins. Policymakers expect the building industry and home owners to make deep cuts in their energy use to dramatically lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because perhaps, at least » Read More

Posted in Green Memes, Soapbox on March 1st, 2019

Green Memes 1: AECB’s successful formula? Sufficiency + Efficiency = Sustainability

One of 2018’s most striking viral images was a side-by-side of two heat maps comparing this summer’s heatwave with that of the famously scorching British summer of 1976. On the 1976 map, Britain stands out as a red-hot island against continents coloured in cool shades of blue. Outside the UK, most of the planet experienced a cooler than average summer that year. On this year’s map, however, Britain is just one blob of red among continents ranging in tone from yellow and orange through to deep crimson. “The world’s on fire,” read the front page headline of The Sun, hardly » Read More

Posted in Green Memes, Soapbox on December 14th, 2018

Green Memes Intro: the future of our industry, society and planet

The recent flurry of alarming reports on the precarious state of the global environment seems to have re-focused many in the green movement on the need for radical and meaningful action to protect the planet. First, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported its finding that we have just 12 years to keep the world under 1.5C of global warming. Then the WWF’s Living Planet report concluded that global wildlife populations have decreased by 60% since the 1970s, threatening the ecological support systems that underpin human civilisation. But in this somewhat frightening context, what can those in the sustainable building » Read More

Posted in Green Memes, Soapbox on December 14th, 2018

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Effective plans for our future

Tim Martel argues for policies we need to see from the government for a convincing response to climate change After this summer, 72% of British adults are now ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ concerned about the impacts of climate change. Is the UK on track to a sustainable future with its actions? Only in the power sector. All other sectors have remained about the same. The past 10 years have been full of suggestions of small changes people could do, but unfortunately few take them up. What if the UK got serious about progress? We’re up against major polluters that spend 10 » Read More

Posted in Soapbox on October 19th, 2018

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The Farmer Review

Tom Jarman considers the Farmer Review after its publication in 2016, and asks why it is different this time and what can be done to tackle whole life costing and construction productivity. Modernise or die – how do we improve productivity and quality in construction? Recently, I heard Mark Farmer speaking about his report from 2016, Modernise or Die. He’s an inspiring speaker and it was a great presentation. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the room who was reinvigorated to go out and make a difference in a sector we enjoy working in and want to attract » Read More

Posted in Soapbox on January 15th, 2018

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A community green deal?

Jonathan Atkinson reports on the positive results of a deep retrofit programme that might inform future government energy efficiency policy. At the 2015 AECB Conference in Sheffield, Jonathan Atkinson of Carbon Co-op and Marianne Heaslip of URBED reported on interim findings from our deep retrofit programme, Community Green Deal. A couple of years later we have collected sufficient data to make some conclusions and outline key learning from the programme. The project set out to achieve high quality, deep retrofit, at scale and at a relatively affordable price. It was funded by DECC and the Greater Manchester Authority with the » Read More

Posted in AECB Latest News, Soapbox on October 19th, 2017

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Building Regulations!

Tom Jarman considers the strengths and limitations of Building Regulations. Tom Jarman considers what Building Regulations are actually there to do, why they are unlikely to meet client expectations and most importantly why they are not a substitute for client responsibility. And although this won’t be a surprise for the great majority of the AECB community, it does seem to be the case that many client groups regard them as what to do, rather than a baseline. We need to do all we can to continue to highlight this, and argue for cultural change in client groups so the demand » Read More

Posted in AECB Latest News, Soapbox on October 18th, 2017

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Passivhaus planning refusal.

Philip Newbold questions a recent planning refusal on the basis of “isolated location”. I have just suffered my first planning refusal (upheld on appeal) in forty-odd years of building design. It was a proposed passive house (Band A) new-build, detached home on an established residential plot on the edge of a small town. The clients’ existing home on the same site won a national award for the Best New Eco-home in 2006 and the designer of their proposed new home next door (me),  is also a national award-winner for Best New Home in 2014. In spite of our collective credentials » Read More

Posted in AECB Latest News, Soapbox on June 15th, 2017


Robust and effective ventilation strategies vital for new-build and redevelopments.

Carl Fivash comments following the EC’s decision to include indoor air quality into its EPBD. Carl wrote a Soapbox article for us in March 2017 on “The importance of improving indoor air quality in the fight against air pollution“.  Since then the European Commission has included indoor air quality into its Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.  This is what Carl had to say about this decision: “The announcement that the European Commission has made a last minute decision to include indoor air quality (IAQ) into its Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a welcome sign that finally, health is » Read More

Posted in AECB Latest News, Soapbox on June 13th, 2017

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Regulation; Why we don’t want or need it, and should stop asking for it!

Tom Jarman argues that regulation can be undesirable and unnecessary. In most industry events and workshops it is not long before talk turns to the ‘ask of government’, which in turn leads to a wish list of financial or regulatory assistance. And because this is an instinctive thing to do, it is hard to distinguish between what we genuinely need, and a replacement for something we can do ourselves already. This blog argues that regulation can be undesirable and unnecessary, and calls for regulation are too casually made. Ultimately, any sector needs to engage positively with Government. This blog argues » Read More

Posted in AECB Latest News, Soapbox on June 5th, 2017

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