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Leeds to Implement Clean Air Zone in 2020

Leeds City Council have made a bold and impressive move to implement an inner-city Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in January 2020. Mainer Associates have a healthy project base in Leeds and like to keep up-to-date with local policy and changes in sustainability governance. It is a fantastic move by the city and should tackle the critical issue of local air quality and pollution, head on.

Leeds currently has 6 air quality management areas (AQMAs). It is a statutory requirement for local councils to measure air quality within cities and declare AQMAs to national government. These are areas where emission levels are significantly dangerous to health. Local authorities and boroughs monitor air quality on, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and compare measurements to levels set by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Where any measured pollutants breach certain levels, the area is automatically designated as an AQMA.

 

Why is air quality such a big issue?

 

Poor air quality has huge implications for society. Implications are environmental, social and economical. Pollution from development and transport in inner city areas increase emissions and directly influence  serious respiratory and health implications such as cardiovascular disease. This in turn creates significant cost and unnecessary strain on the UK’s National Health Service. Furthermore,  a city with a known reputation for bad air pollution and subsequent quality of life will discourage commerce, tourism and investment.

Image from www.cleanairleeds.co.uk to illustrate how different levels of air quality air considered in relation to health.

Image from www.cleanairleeds.co.uk to illustrate how different levels of air quality air considered in relation to health.

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to our health. It can cause and exacerbate many health problems. These include:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic heart disease, and,
  • Strokes

 

Air pollution is also a transboundary and intergenerational problem. Public health England published the following infographic to illustrate the extent of these problems:

 

The extent of the air pollution problem.

The extent of the air pollution problem.

Do you know the emission levels and air quality of where you live? Or on your commute to work? Providing people with knowledge on air pollution is a great way to engage people to start addressing the issue, especially for something physically intangible in your day-to-day activities. Check out DEFRA’s database to find out emission levels in your local area www.uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data/gis-mapping

 

Why are Clean Air (Charging) Zones a Correct but Controversial step forward?

 

CAZs mainly focus on emissions from vehicles and aim to penalise high-polluting transport and restrict their mobility through certain parts of urban areas with poor air quality.

Despite the clear importance of good air quality, CAZs are not always well received from cohorts in the general public. They essentially either prohibit, monetise, and ‘tax’ vehicle movement through certain areas of city or town centres, and are deliberately more strenuous on high-polluting vehicles.

For the CAZ in Leeds, no vehicle will be banned from the zone, but if your vehicle does not meet the emission standards set out by the council you will be subject to a daily charge. You’ll be able to find out whether your vehicle is considered a high-polluter nearer the time when the council have finalised benchmarks.

Boundary map of the proposed clean air zone. Source Leeds City Council.

Boundary map of the proposed clean air zone. Source Leeds City Council.

It will be the biggest CAZ in the country and is a fantastic move from the local council to address a serious and topical issue.

 

What else can we do?

 

With air quality being such a pressing and contemporary issue it’s important governments, local councils and the private sector do not purely focus on one method to address the problem. CAZs in cities should implement a mix of initiatives to reduce emissions, from a variety of pollutant sources. Air pollution is a collective responsibility and strategies to address it should not simply be restricted to financial deterrents.

LCC’s fantastic initiative ‘clean air leeds’ are trialling and practising a number of strategies to ensure the cities inhabitants breathe clean air. These are:

  • The council are transitioning their fleet to LEV or ZEV.
  • Investment in upgrades to public transport and cycling infrastructure through the ‘connecting Leeds’ strategy.
  • All 4 major bus companies in Leeds have committed to ensuring their vehicles meet the latest emissions standard by 2020.
  • Pedestrianising more of the city to make use of public transport to get into the city more attractive.
  • Free parking for ULEVs at al council car parks
  • Smart city initiatives – to mitigate stop start driving and idling.
  • Collaboration with the private sector to conduct research into the ability for hybrid vehicles to have automatic switching to electric power when in an area of high pollution – cool!

 

Interestingly, the new BREEAM 2018 New Construction guidance aims to help developers and the construction industry tackle this issue from another angle. The new guidance requires you to confirm whether developments are located within a low or high pollution location, any development within an AQMA is automatically considered a high pollution location. BREEAM then sets out different emission benchmarks for NOx, VOCs and particulate matter depending on the developments location and the number of credits you want to achieve.

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BREEAM In-Use gaining momentum

There is an increasing eagerness among investors, building owners, landlords, facilities managers and building occupiers to understand actual building performance. With the new 2018 version of the BREEAM New Construction scheme there are now opportunities to achieve credits under a Post-Occupancy Stage of certification. But what about the ongoing performance and associated costs of buildings once in operation?

Please Mind the Gap

 

Since the release of The BREEAM 2015 In-Use scheme (International version applicable to all countries) BREEAM has been able to assist numerous portfolio owners worldwide in reducing operational costs and increasing their buildings’ efficiency. The BREEAM In-Use scheme helps bridge the ‘performance gap’ between modelled outputs and operational realities, and thus enhances tenant and asset value and increases market demand. The scheme enables building owners and managers to understand how satisfied building users are with assets. Through the In-Use tool, asset managers and owners are empowered with information to improve asset performance and internal environments for building users’ wellbeing and productivity.

By identifying performance gaps through BREEAM In-Use developers can take steps to achieve a better performing building and increase tenant-value.

 

A great tool to achieve CSR and ESG targets

 

BREEAM In-Use is an increasingly popular tool in contributing to corporate social responsibility and environmental social governance, business reporting and sustainable business leadership.

The BREEAM In-Use assessment process is broken down into three Parts:

  • Part 1 – Asset Performance: the performance of the asset’s built form, construction, fixtures, fittings and installed services.
  • Part 2 – Building Management: the management of the asset.
  • Part 3 – Occupier Management: the management of building users and services. (Only available for Offices).

A Part 1 or Part 2 assessment can be conducted in isolation. A Part 3 assessment is recommended to be undertaken in combination with a Part 2 assessment as the score achieved for Part 2 feeds into the score for Part 3. It is recommended however that assets are assessed against all 3 Parts to map out the overall environmental impact of their asset.

The final outcome of a BREEAM In-Use assessment is a certified BREEAM In-Use rating for the Part against which an assessment is undertaken. This certified BREEAM In-Use rating reflects the asset’s performance across the BREEAM environmental categories. It enables the performance of the asset to be benchmarked, but most importantly, the knowledge obtained from such a comprehensive assessment allows the asset’s performance to be optimised through informed management decisions. By enabling on-going assessments, BREEAM In-Use encourages continual improvement.

Assessing an asset according to BREEAM In-Use means a client can:

  • Set key performance indicators for energy, water, waste and greenhouse gas performance
  • Understand the performance of assets within their portfolios
  • Benchmark individual assets within portfolios against similar assets
  • Optimise the performance of their buildings through good management, maintenance and occupation policies and procedures
  • Set performance improvement targets and measure progress over time
  • Support BRE on the continuing development of BREEAM In-Use by identifying and improving best environmental performance of existing buildings

 

Would you like to better understand the operational performance of your assets and increase tenant satisfaction to benefit your assets value? Get in touch!

 

Mainer Associates Go Zero Carbon

Mainer Associates have recently created a zero-carbon office space! As a sustainability consultancy, working to improve the environmental impact of the construction industry, it’s important we practice what we preach.

Our recent office move gave the Mainer team a fantastic opportunity to assess how we could improve our operational impacts. We looked at everything, from the carbon emissions associated with our office space and transport to the coffee we drink!

Using a combination of on-site renewables, energy efficiency strategies and meeting current building regulations for new construction on building fabric, Mainer Associates are now operating on a ‘carbon negative’ basis. Our solar PV array has resulted in an A+ EPC rating for our work space.

A carbon negative building is one that generates surplus energy to its own demand and exports the surplus back into the grid, further greening UK grid electricity.

Mainer Associates are a net exporter of zero carbon energy!

 

On-site Renewables

The PV array has a 2.36kW capacity and has already generated 60kWh in the first week since installation! That’s enough energy to power our entire office for 6 days! Or boil 600 kettles. Please also read our article on the coffee we drink  here.

Energy production from the PV array is currently modelled at 159.8 kWh/annum/m2 of office space, with a negative building emission rate of -41.63kgCO2/m2 per year. In fact, the first 4 days have exceeded this generation as outlined above.

The installation of photovoltaics has proved a fantastic way to achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions, to the extent of gaining a positive net carbon figure. Another benefit has been the ability for Mainer Associates to implement decentralisation of energy generation and consumption.

Decentralised energy is a very topical area of sustainability discourse and has great potential as a strategy to bring about positive change in local, regional and national emission targets. It was an idea discussed amongst Mainer employees in relation to our electric company cars.

The car is zero emissions at the point of use, but as sustainability consultants we recognised we could never guarantee the fuel types used for public and private charging infrastructure are ‘clean’ or renewable. Decentralising our energy consumption using renewable photovoltaic technology has therefore reduced the company’s environmental impact even further. This is a great, small-scale, example of how decentralised energy can lead to truly sustainable consumption.

Check out our original article on sustainable commuting here.

 

Energy Efficiency and Building Regs

Achieving a carbon negative office space is not simply installing renewable technologies to offset emissions from a poorly insulated and underperforming building. Before the office move, we looked back over our previous blog posts on Part L 2020 and performance gaps to identify opportunities to act on current issues being discussed amongst industry professionals on the sustainability of built assets.

Reducing operational impacts through design involved specification energy efficient LED lighting and a gas fired high efficiency boiler. These efficiency measures mean less energy is consumed to satisfy the businesses’ operational demand.

The office space is also fully insulated to current, new construction, building regulations, helping the building to operate efficiently with reduced demand. The intention was to ensure the Mainer Associates office is at optimal operational performance.

 

Other sustainability Strategies  

The Mainer Associates employees did not stop at energy consumption and carbon emissions. Here are a few other strategies implemented at the office:

  • Zoned heating control system
  • Natural ventilation
  • All timber is FSC certified
  • Recycling and organic waste facilities

Reducing plastic waste through our coffee addiction! – see our article on the impacts of coffee drinking here!

 

 

 

MEjPT

Digitising Construction: Culture, Leadership and Willingness

Mainer Associates recently held a round table discussion on the digitisation of the construction industry. We welcomed fellow industry professionals to join us for an evening discussion and dinner to converse on the current digital technologies within construction, and create debate on why construction lacks digital uptake. The potential for digital disruption to improve construction is huge, we need to develop a culture within the industry to embrace it.

Representatives from CBRE, Allied London, Turner and Townsend, Manchester Airport Group, Network Rail and Bruntwood came together to discuss this increasingly important topic. Here’s some interesting highlights from the discussion:

“As a sector we are poor at using technology. Contrast what I can do on my smartphone with what I can do at work”. A sentiment that echoed round the room was that the construction industry has not taken the steps that other sectors have done to embrace new methods, new technologies and more modern working cultures. Rather than seek the opportunities in digital and in sustainability, our discussion highlighted that these are seen as costs, not positive investments.

“Why are we transporting air?” One hears a lot about modular manufacturing and how it might disrupt traditional construction methods. Indeed, the control, standardisation and repeatability of modular manufacturing may bring many benefits. However, our guests made clear that the manufacturing is just one part of the cost chain. One comment recognised that “builders and contractors are very old-school and run on small margins” but that they still have “loads of inefficiency”.

We’ve become data junkies thanks to our partnership with an analytics company”. Some of our guests pointed to areas where they have seen change and rapid improvement. One clear area was in the use of data analytics and its application to, for example, understanding the detailed impact of retail footfall or even of the Manchester weather on rents and revenues. One guest’s firm has gone so far as to “disrupt ourselves” by considering the question, “If we were starting from scratch now, with the technologies available and coming soon, how would we go about it?”

This big question goes well beyond the use of tools like Business Information Modelling (BIM) and working in more flexible, “hot desking” ways. Underpinning it all, though, was a recognition that the largest part of any change programme is the culture, leadership and willingness to bring about such change. One can have the shiniest technology tools in the world, but without strong leadership and strong workforce engagement, the tools will soon be sitting on a shelf gathering dust.

It was a great discussion, and many thanks for our expert guests for being so engaged in the discussion with their knowledge and insights.

Digitisation has the potential to vastly improve how work in construction and sustainability is done. Mainer Associates are ourselves pursuing avenues into developing an App to improve our service delivery of BREEAM assessments. We intend the app to primarily offer project teams a one stop service for Man 03 site impacts monitoring and Wst 01 waste management. Watch this space!

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UK Homes – The Current Verdict

Last week the UK Governments Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released a report condemning the current quality and performance of UK homes in relation to the countries targets in reducing co2 emissions.

The new report titled ‘UK Housing: Fit for future?’ can be found here.

The main arguments:

  • To meet legally required emission targets will demand elimination of all GHGs from UK buildings.
  • Reductions in domestic emissions have stalled.
  • Energy use in homes has increased 14% between 2016 and 2017.
  • Retrofit, refurbishment and adaptation to domestic and commercial building stock is behind in relation to intended policy targets.
  • Cost-effective measures for retrofit are not being rolled out at the required level.
  • We have the technology and knowledge for low carbon and resilient homes but current policy and standards do not instigate change at the scale and pace needed.
  • UK building standards are inadequate (See our previous article on Part L here) and inadequately enforced.

Why?

  • Cost-effective measures for retrofit are not being rolled out at the required level.
  • We have the technology and knowledge for low carbon and resilient homes but current policy and standards do not instigate change at the scale and pace needed.
  • UK building standards are inadequate (See our previous article on Part L here) and inadequately enforced.

Actions

The CCC recommended several strategies for the government to act on. The summaries are given below:

  1. Performance and Compliance: Close the ‘performance gap’.
  2. Skills Gap: The inconsistent approach of UK policy has created a skills gap in housing design and construction. A nationwide training programme is needed.
  3. Retrofitting Existing Homes: Make use of low carbon sources of heating such as heat pumps and uptake energy efficiency measures. Repairs to existing homes should reduce indoor moisture, improve air quality and water efficiency and incorporate flood protection.
  4. Building New Homes: Design new homes to be climate resilient, energy and water efficient and low -carbon.
  5. Finance and Funding: Urgent funding gaps need to be addressed.

An interesting theme throughout the detailed recommendations is to remove future and current connections to the gas grid and heat homes through low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps or heat networks. See the full 36 recommendations here.

The CCC clearly want to make bold and positive steps towards decarbonising our housing stock. It will be interesting to see whether the government will adopt and act on any of the recommendations outlined in this new report. Let’s hope they make time for positive actions on the sustainability of the UK’s housing stock amidst the B-word!

Regardless on what the government decides to act on, the UK cannot meet climate and emission-reduction objectives without major enhancement in the energy performance of UK housing and near complete decarbonisation of the housing stock.

 

Here’s How Mainer Can Help

Mainer Associates deliver sustainability services in the domestic construction sector. These include Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) and Part L, Planning and Sustainability Statements, and Renewable Energy Assessments.

Standard Assessment Procedures and Part L

SAP is an energy assessment methodology used to assess and compare the energy performance of housing developments. It is the recommended method of energy assessment from the UK government for domestic dwellings to meet Part L building regulations.

Whenever a residential property is re-let or sold, it must have an environmental performance certificate (EPC). The retrofit recommendations in the report by the Committee on Climate Change will intend to improve EPC ratings. Mainer Associates have a greatly experienced team of SAP assessors who engage with project teams to find cost effective solutions with the best sustainability outcomes, to meet Local Planning Authority requirements.

Planning and Sustainability Statements

Mainer Associates have experience in undertaking a variety of planning strategies and statements to accompany planning submissions. We can review planning policy and establish where and how residential developments need to meet sustainability regulations to assist your application in achieving planning permission.

We also have energy specialists and low carbon consultants to establish energy strategies and statements. From high-level benchmarking calculations to full dynamic simulation modelling we identify potential low carbon strategies and quantify emission savings. Using DSM and SAP provides clients with extremely detailed calculations that they take forward into later design and construction phases.

Renewable and Low carbon Energy Consultancy

We have a team of renewable and low carbon energy consultants who specialise in low carbon energy solutions, establishing bespoke installations for individual dwellings and larger housing developments.

Mainer Associates assist in developing business cases and project planning for low-carbon installs and have great colleagues in the industry to stay at the forefront in best practice and knowledge on renewables.

To support our dynamic simulation modelling we have specialist software for PV projects, enabling us to model PV arrays in an unrivalled amount of detail, providing clients with robust evidence and arguments on the feasibility of installation.

Some Take-Home Facts

  • Housing targets include 1.5 million homes by 2022.
  • Heating and hot water account for 25% of the UK’s total energy use and 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 4% of GHGs result from electricity used in homes.
  • Direct emissions from homes were 64 million tonnes CO2 in 2017.
  • The CCC’s cost effective pathway for meeting carbon budgets would put the UK on track to a 24% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Only 18,000 heat pump units were sold in 2016.
  • EPC data indicates that D is the most common EPC rating.
  • 4.7million homes in England failed to meet the Decent Home Standard in 2016.

 

Renewables

Part L 2020: What to Expect and Potential Changes

Mainer Associates expect there to be significant changes to Part L Building Regulations in 2020. This article describes the current issues experienced by the UK’s domestic and non-domestic building stock and the unintended consequences of current legislation. The potential changes to Part L to address these consequences will also be discussed.

 

The pitfalls of current legislation

Our building energy standards are shaped by the European Union’s 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive. It is expected they will still influence UK regulations post-brexit. Several ‘unintended consequences’ from this legislation that are generally experienced in-built assets throughout the UK include:

  • Homes are overheating.
  • A focus on air tightness has led to poor indoor air quality, creating a dependence on mechanical ventilation to address high VOC concentration, airborne moisture and high particulate pollution.
  • Energy performance gaps.

 

Why?

The unintended consequences from past and current building regulations and current Part L have come as a result of:

  • Designing for compliance and not acknowledging how actual operational use of built assets differ from design intentions.
  • Compliance gaps.
  • Lack of management, monitoring and analysis of buildings, post-occupancy.

 

Part L 2020

It is anticipated Part L of building regulations ‘Conservation of Fuel and Power’ will be amended in 2020. The most significant potential change is a switch from CO2 to primary energy as the metric to assess building performance. This suggests a big step towards a fabric first approach , designing buildings for energy efficiency from the start, instead of designing an asset and then installing renewable and low carbon technology to meet CO2 reduction targets.

Maximising the performance of building fabric before considering electrical and mechanical systems is a great step towards improving sustainability of the built environment.

 

Potential Changes to Legislation

There are potential changes to the UK building regulations with intention to address key challenges to achieving better performing buildings and the increasing influence of above-regulatory standards.

Potential changes to energy and sustainability standards in the coming years:

Domestic:

  • Re-calibration of fuel factors for new homes.
  • Elemental standards for existing buildings.
  • Limiting efficiencies for fixed building services.
  • Adoption of SAP10 to deliver new minimum standards and accommodate ventilation/overheating changes.
  • A switch from CO2 to a primary energy metric.

Non-Domestic:

  • A ‘fuel neutral’ notional building for new non-domestic buildings.
  • Elemental standards for existing buildings.
  • Limiting efficiencies of fixed building services.
  • SBEM changes to deliver new minimum standards and to accommodate any ventilation and overheating changes.
  • A switch from CO2 to a primary energy metric.

Future regulations on ventilation are likely to provide clarity on Part F guidance and simplifying the approach to calculating ventilation rates. There is also expected to be an review of air tightness testing procedures and the competency of testers along with a review on the way the national calculation method (NCM) credits air tightness.

In regard to overheating, by 2020 the government will have to decided where the requirements to reduce overheating risk should be placed in new legislation. Will this come under Part L or the new AD? It is also expected the method for determining overheating risks for dwellings will be changed in order to help address this issue at design.

Image From 'BreatheLife City' Campaign

The New (Draft) Greater Manchester Spatial Framework: What sustainability professionals need to know

In January, Andy Burnham and the Manchester City Council (MCC) released a draft version of the eagerly anticipated new Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). The new framework is currently undergoing consultation and has some bold and positive targets for environmental sustainability. As a sustainability consultancy based near Manchester and working on large developments within the city, Mainer Associates have decided to provide you with a one-stop tour and information guide on the council’s environmental sustainability targets.

 

Greenfield Vs Brownfield

MCC are clearly favouring brownfield development. Although not be evenly distributed throughout the Greater Manchester districts, there will be a net reduction in green belt allocation by 4.1%. The council will give preference to applications that develop previously occupied sites.

Carbon Emissions and Climate Change

MCC have set the ambitious target for Greater Manchester to become a carbon neutral city-region by 2038. All new development will need to be net zero carbon by 2028. This is a big statement for the city and demonstrates the council’s intentions to put the city at the forefront of climate change action. Strategies to achieve this include:

  • Significant up-scaling of photovoltaic energy.
  • Reducing heat demands in homes.
  • Shifting away from carbon intensive gas.
  • Reduce heat and cooling demand for commercial buildings.
  • Increasing biofuel use.
  • Retrofitting existing building stock.
  • All dwellings should seek a 19% reduction against Part L regulations.
  • 20% reduction in carbon emissions on all new developments using on site renewables and low carbon technologies.

Air Pollution

Greater Manchester (GM) has signed up to achieve the achieve the World Health Orgs. (WHO) ‘BreatheLife City’ Status by 2030. Check out Manchester’s involvement in this initiative here.

Transport accounts for 31% of GM’s CO2 emissions, the other 2 thirds are predominantly from domestic and commercial buildings. Areas of the city have also been designated as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) meaning nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter emissions are exceedingly high, certain areas exceed WHO recommended levels!

National government therefore requires GM to establish a Clean Air Plan which the 10 districts will complete together. Current options the council are considering are detailed here.

clean air image

Image: https://cleanairgm.com/shortlisted-clean-air-plan-measures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever combination of options the city council decide on, they must reduce NO2 as quickly as a class A clean air zone would, detailed above. The city could therefore see a controversial yet very effective penalty system, that financially penalises drivers with non-compliant vehicles driving through the designated zone.

 

Waste

Interestingly, MCC appear to be adopting circular economy principles into their waste management strategy. The circular economy is an innovative economic model and trend in sustainability practice. It aims to eradicate the take-make-dispose model of current systems and apply circularity to economic systems and business models.

The council want to wholly re-conceptualise waste as a resource and will develop a new resource strategy to set out strategies to achieve a circular and zero-waste economy for the city.

The city is also championing and acting on national concern for single-use plastics. Plastic Free Greater Manchester is an initiative to eliminate single use plastics across the greater region, engaging businesses, organisations, charities and individuals to remove this unsustainable consumption.

Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity

Green and blue infrastructure is a vital resource for any city. It provides a whole host of benefits ranging from cleaner air to enhancing inhabitant wellbeing. Protection and enhancement to the cities green space and waterways across the inner city and wider districts are central to councils approach. Some of the objectives are detailed here:

  • Protect/enhance river valleys and waterways.
  • Utilise the urban pioneer programme to assess investment and management of natural assets.
  • Achieve an overall enhancement in biodiversity.
  • The council will develop its own defined standard to ensure sufficient quality and quantity of green infrastructure.
  • Continue the work being undertaken by the City of Trees campaign to plant a tree for every GM resident.

Did you know, less than half of Greater Manchester residents currently have access to natural green space within 300m of their home!

The End to the Enhanced Capital Allowance

Following the release of the new financial budget back in October 2018, sustainability professionals may have been left feeling let down at the lack of discussion on environmental issues during Phillip Hammond’s budget speech.

After a closer look at the budget, Mainer Associates would like to discuss two significant changes to public spending within the energy sector:

  1. The end of Enhanced Capital Allowances and first year tax breaks for technologies on the Energy Technology list and Water Technology List from April 2020.

 

  1. Savings from this scheme will be reinvested into the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund.

 

The new budget has a clear focus on energy efficiency. The government feels there are better ways to improve uptake of energy efficiency technologies and support large business in reducing operational energy demands and costs.

The enhanced capital allowance (ECA) scheme currently allows large companies and corporations to claim 100% of costs for investments in certain plant and machinery, against their taxable income. The scheme is applicable to environmentally beneficial technologies listed on the Energy Technology List (ETL) and the Water Technology List (WTL). The ECA scheme is a great incentive for companies to invest in energy efficiency and low carbon heating and cooling systems. Tax breaks on such technologies embody clear benefits for positive economic growth whilst reducing environmental impacts.

The government plans to remove these allowances for a large range of technologies on the two lists. This will affect businesses who invest in energy efficient plant and machinery which currently qualify for first year tax credits. Bigger companies with larger revenue may still be eligible for tax relief under the annual investment allowance (AIA) at up to £200,000 per annum.

Click here to find out if your technologies are eligible before April 2020.

 

A positive step or missed opportunity?

 

The government has opted to invest £315m into the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund. The primary purpose of this fund is to reduce emissions from energy intensive businesses. The government feels this fund will provide better ways than ECAs to achieve the transition to a low-carbon economy. The fund will assist large businesses to decarbonise their operations through increased energy efficiency initiatives and technologies. The specifics on how this will be done are yet to be fully revealed by the government.

The Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) is planned to run for five years and has received positive and negative responses from sustainability and energy intensive industries. The fund should increase the number of energy efficiency projects that are financially viable for businesses and help industrial-scale energy bill payers, remove costs and emissions.

However, there will be definite losers following the end of ECAs with the new fund arguably too focused on large corporations. There will be firms that previously benefited from tax breaks which will not be eligible for new funds due to the size of their operations. Furthermore, the five years allocated for the scheme and current lack of details on how funds will be used does not offer certainty to big businesses.

Other critics argue the government has missed another clear opportunity to make positive and significant investments into renewable energy industries and technologies. They suggest the new budget allocation for investment in decarbonisation focuses too much on energy efficiency and not enough on renewables. The word ‘renewable’ does not feature once in the Budget!

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Mainer Associates and Sustainable Commuting

As some of you may be aware, there are currently exciting times ahead for Mainer Associates with the development of a new personalised office space for our growing company.

In preparation for the move, the team wanted to take the opportunity to look at our own operations and ensure sustainable principles were at the core of our new commutes.

The company has invested in an electric vehicle for employees to use for travelling to and from work and to attend meetings within the local Manchester area. The vehicle has zero emissions at the point of use and offers and ideal mode of transportation for Mainer Associates employees.

Mainer Associates feel it is important employees can travel to work with ease and it was clear car travel was going to be the easiest method of transport to travel to the new office. However, the embodied impact of our operations was going to significantly increase – an electric vehicle was an easy choice!

The electric vehicle market has seen continued growth in recent years with charging infrastructure also becoming increasingly widespread throughout UK cities. In 2017 sales of electric vehicles passed the million mark, globally (Mckinsey).

In the UK, the government is now offering grants to those wanting to purchase a new low-emission vehicle to help incentivise uptake in sustainable transport. It’s important to provide consumers with opportunities to make the shift away transportation based on fossil fuels, especially for single-person journeys. For most consumers, price is the key influencer, and in a market where prices on new electric cars are notoriously high, this is a positive step.

Check out information on the governments’ grants here.

Whilst anyone can get a private charging point installed at their home, the UK also has a promising public network of electric chargers. These vary between fast and rapid charger types and most are free! Others charge per kWh used. The UK has invested 400million into the charging infrastructure investment fund and aims to support businesses to build charging points, promote jobs in the industry and encourage private ownership of electric vehicles, giving consumers confidence in the practicalities of owning an electric car.

Mainer Associates currently utilise a private charge point at our new office and the Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) charging network. The GMEV charge points are quick and easy to use. With the ‘charge your car’ mobile app you can see which charge points in your local area are available. You simply plug in your car and use your RFiD card to start charging!

Private Charge Point

Private Charge Point

 

Public Charge Point - GMEV Network

Public Charge Point – GMEV Network

The GMEV network is a great asset to the city in moving towards a low-carbon economy. In 2018, Transport for Greater Manchester were granted a further £3million for an additional 48 dual bay rapid charging points. This a fantastic move for the city and demonstrates the local government is improving EV infrastructure and incentivising up-take of low-emission transport.

 

Car Share

Mainer Associates regularly work on developments within large-scale business parks. The asset managers of these business parks often implement car share programmes for tenants and employees to use via online registration.

We have applied these initiatives to our own commuting and travel to and from the new office. Our employees currently practice car shares throughout the week meaning the environmental and social benefits of a zero emissions vehicle are distributed throughout the company.

 

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Mainer Associates Deliver CPD Session on BREEAM 2018

Download our CPD Flyer

http://mainer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Mainer-CPD-flyer1.pdf

Mainer Associates are now delivering CPD sessions for our clients and project teams, past and present, on the new BREEAM 2018 UK New Construction Scheme. The new scheme was released in March earlier this year and since its publication, Mainer Associates have reviewed the major changes from the 2014 version.

Mainer Associates always strive to improve our BREEAM service delivery, getting up to speed with the new guide has of course been a vital part to this! We’re excited to be registering new projects as 2018 assessments and delivering what we feel, is a bespoke service.

We aim to fully engage with our project teams throughout the whole assessment process, from pre-assessment to post-construction certification. Our BREEAM workshops tackle specific issues with relevant team members and aim to deliver a smooth certification process. To continue delivering BREEAM assessments with the same expertise and professionalism under the new scheme, Mainer Associates have identified high-level and detailed changes to prepare ourselves, and you, for the new 2018 standards.

A CPD Session Tailored to You

Mainer Associates can tailor the session to your specific role in a development. Whether you are a developer, contractor, architect, M&E engineer, ecologist or acoustician or anyone who has or will be involved in a BREEAM certified development, we can make sure the information we discuss is what you need to equip your team for your next BREEAM project.

We recently delivered our BREEAM 2018 CPD to Wates at their Leeds City College development. Prior to the session we listened to what the Wates team wanted to gain from the CPD. We then delivered the update specific to their demands and outlined how the changes would impact their role during a BREEAM assessment in terms of time, work load, responsibility and cost.

 

High-Level Changes

During our CPD sessions we will initially take you through changes that we feel are most significant.

Ene 01 and Post-Occupancy Assessment

There’s now a strong emphasis from the BRE on monitoring, reporting and improving the actual operational performance of buildings to ensure BREEAM assets are truly sustainable. Ene 01: reduction of energy use and carbon emissions has seen significant changes to ensure developers acknowledge performance after handover. Credits are now available for detailed modelling of different post-occupancy scenarios. Design teams are then required to hold energy workshops to consider how these scenarios could influence the building design.

Under Ene01 the client can commit funds to a new post-occupancy assessment stage (POS). Monitoring and reporting on energy and water consumption compare actual performance against modelled scenarios, consumption targets and design intent.

The post-occupancy certification stage is an optional stage of assessment but provides a fantastic way for clients and facilities managers to identify areas of intense and inefficient performance.

POS provides opportunities to review energy and water targets, site ecology, occupant health and wellbeing and building commissioning. It alerts building owners to defects and opportunities to address performance gaps to maintain tenant and asset value.

Part L 2020

Changes to Part L are on the horizon and are expected to massively influence BREEAM standards and they way buildings are designed.

Part L 2020 is expected to make primary energy consumption the basis of energy performance assessments, illustrating a shift away from quantifying CO2 emissions. Architects and design teams will have to implement the ‘fabric-first’ approach and design efficient buildings from the start. They will have to enhance the performance of building components and materials prior to considering mechanical and renewable technologies.

This is a big change, the industry cannot solely rely on renewable energy generation and energy efficient technologies to make buildings perform efficiently.

Mat 01 Building Life Cycle Impacts

Mat 01 Environmental impacts from construction products – Building Life Cycle Assessments now requires design teams to carry out whole-building life cycle assessments (LCA) and different LCA options on the superstructure of the building during concept design.

This is a whole-sale change from BREEAM 2014 and will require more work and cost at an earlier RIBA stage to ensure credits are achieved.

Detailed changes

Once we have discussed the high-level changes we will take you through specific detailed changes, credit by credit.

This involves outlining new benchmarks, explaining new and re-structured issues, identifying changes to how credits are awarded, and confirming any new requirements that will impact your role in a development certified to BREEAM.

We can tailor the detailed changes, tackling the new requirements specific to you, depending on your role and responsibilities throughout a BREEAM assessment.

Contact – Arrange a Session

Would you like your team or employees to be aware of the new BREEAM 2018 requirements and get ahead of the game for your next BREEAM registered project?

Get in touch with the Mainer Associates team to organise a session!

Ben Wells: ben.wells@mainer.co.uk

http://mainer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Mainer-CPD-flyer1.pdf