John Whitehouse

Retired County Councillor for Kenilworth Abbey Division Learn more

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Zero or Low Carbon Homes

by John Whitehouse on 7 April, 2009

Planet Earth

At the weekend I went to a very interesting meeting organised by Action21’s Renewable Energy Club in conjunction with KICC (Kenilworth Initiative for Climate Change). Two Kenilworth residents, David Searle and George Martin, gave talks about their recent experiences of building zero or low carbon homes.

David’s house was a new build, and he has succeeded in achieving the ultimate goal of a zero carbon home, through the use of the right materials and equipment and meticulous attention to detail. George’s project was the conversion of a Grade2-listed part 17th century cottage, and while it was impossible to get to a zero carbon home with this he succeeded in getting a very long way towards this.

Common to both their experiences was the difficulty in finding UK manufacturers of the materials or equipment needed for their projects, from insulation materials through to biomass boilers and rainwater harvesting equipment. Also they both found a general lack of knowledge in the building trade of the specialist techniques needed to construct zero or low carbon homes, although in both cases they found builders willing to learn with them.

What a massive opportunity for UK manufacturing is being thrown away at present! The materials and equipment required are not having to be imported from cheap sources in the Far East, but from hi-tech manufacturers in European countries such as Germany, Austria and Denmark. Why doesn’t the British government invest heavily in promoting UK manufacturing of products for the ‘green revolution’, as the Liberal Democrats have proposed? Far better than the temporary small VAT cut, which has cost billions and achieved very little.

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