Sunday, 30 January 2011

“How green is your house?”

The recent post at Thanetonline with a link to a Mail Online article exposing the true cost of wind power renewable energy, which shows a huge lake of radio-active pollution in China where neodymium is extracted for turbine magnets, calls into question “Is there any form of energy production which does not harm the environment?”.

I don’t think anybody has much faith in the “green” credentials of nuclear generation and without the mountains and valleys to provide opportunities for hydro-generation, there seems little option but to continue polluting until a really clean solution can be found.

However, on the principle of “what goes in must come out” we should be thinking of new ways to stop the energy being lost, so that less has to be generated in the first place. This unfortunately is not a very “sexy” option to get elected on, so politicians do not shout about it. Also the energy generation companies will not get fat by providing too much energy conservation.

For those unfamiliar “SAP” stands for “Standard Assessment Procedure” the way energy consumption of buildings is measured.

Studies I carried out in 1996 came up with some very surprising results, I am not claiming that they are particularly accurate as they were, in part, based only on nationally published statistics. Their accuracy is not particularly important, as much as the overall picture they paint. The majority of UK housing stock dates back to the two World Wars and beyond, when there were no energy controls. Building Regulations 1965 was the first date at which insulation was required to be included in dwellings, only 45 years ago.

The older dwellings originally built without insulation and improved on an “ad hoc” basis, will continue to provide the bulk of the UK housing stock for decades, maybe centuries to come, there is no possibility of wholesale clearance and replacement. This is particularly relevant in Thanet where so many listed buildings exist, upgrading insulation without harming architectural features is an extremely difficult balance but such a challenge must be undertaken if we are to really tackle the excesses of pollution in modern society.


  1. Why do we have to doubt the green credentials of nuclear power? The hatred of anything nuclear is a hangover from theories dreamed up in hippy encampments on the Welsh Marches forty years ago and the mitherings of CND activists. The traditional excuse by the green fraternity is based on the half life of the waste - something that early 21st Century Man has not managed to deal with, as yet. The whole premise is that we aren't ever going to be clever enough to work out how to dispose of the stuff safely; just as we were never going to be clever enough to fly or go out into space.
    The real green issue to explore is that of population growth - but that steps into areas of national identity that people don't like to explore. Until the population of the planet starts to fall we will always be heading for destruction.

  2. I agree that population growth is probably the biggest threat to man because we have no mechanism for dealing with it.

    With regard to space travel, humans did not go into space until they were pretty sure they could get back, with the case of nuclear we have no idea if we can get back, or will pollute the planet long term.

    Again it seems a matter of levels, the French use nuclear power apparently successfully but more power stations equals more pollution, better to reduce the need in all possible ways first

  3. My son had a possible solution to the waste problem years ago - stick the stuff in rockets and fire it at the Sun.