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birmingham 378
Aug
01

Greener Homes for Birmingham

Birmingham City Council’s latest Sustainability Forum gave Birmingham residents and businesses a chance to hear the latest progress and to discuss barriers and opportunities for greener homes in the city. The citizens of Birmingham get the chance to have their say on green matters.The Forum was well attended by approximately 70 people, with a range of fantastic presentations from leading stakeholders and thinkers in the city, including:

  • Chris Hall, Birmingham Energy Savers & Carillion – retrofitting Birmingham’s buildings
  • Clive Skidmore, Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) – which is building new homes to code level 4
  • Rob Annable, Axis Design – working with BMHT and interested in passivhaus approach, what are the barriers & opportunities to building zero carbon homes
  • David Mason, Skanska – construction company working with BMHT.  Building to Level 6 – what are barriers & is it expensive?
  • John Christophers, Zero Carbon House – a Birmingham example of an extreme zero carbon retrofit existing home & ideas how people can achieve this?

The presentations are available to view at: www.birmingham.gov.uk/sustainability/forum

Following the presentations and a brief question and answer session, attendees were invited to share their experiences and knowledge in a 45 minute workshop, facilitated by the presenters, on the barriers and opportunities facing building retrofit and new developments to be greener – more sustainable, energy efficient and cheaper to run. The overall consensus was that there are good early successes in driving greener homes in the city to build on, but there are also obstacles and teething problems that must still be overcome. These include technical difficulties relating to property specific nuances, poor assistance for the elderly and vulnerable, and a lack of commitment and buy in from landlords. For new developments, barriers include a lack of long term view from developers on whole life building costs and a lack of adequate information and support for occupants.

Looking to the future, attendees also suggested solutions to current problems and other opportunities. There were some excellent points to take forward including better information and education, new funding models and standards for building specification and monitoring, with opportunities such as local area regeneration, jobs and reduced energy bills discussed to name a few. For new developments there were repeated calls for coherent policies and a firm stance on building standards and for a consideration of whole life costs to be used to ensure homes are built with benefits to people as a priority, rather than developers. To view more of the commentary from the Forum the notes are available.

The emerging ideas and discussions from the Forum are being built into the Green Commission’s Carbon Roadmap which is in development and due to be launched in November 2013. The Carbon Roadmap will outline a range of new key initiatives, as well as assessing the existing ones, to make Birmingham a leading green city and achieve the ambitious 60% reduction in total carbon emissions by 2027. Look out for further details on the Roadmap in a later post!

For more information on the Green Commission, visit:  www.birmingham.gov.uk/greencommission

If you have any further comments please send them to: sustainabilityteam@birmingham.gov.uk

Words by Richard Rees, Strategic Energy Delivery Officer
Birmingham City Council, UK