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An older model home which has gone energy-efficient conversion into a green alter-ego.  (Source: University of Oxford)
One of the oldest and most venerable universities in the world is looking to help homeowners take a chunk out of a very new problem

The University of Oxford is helping households both reduce their energy bills and reduce the CO2 needed to generate their energy, by as much as 80%.  Oxford revealed the framework of the plan to the public, and it is already creating much excitement and interest.

Central to the plan are Oxford's suggestions of government financial incentives for homeowners and higher efficiency standards on household appliances.

Brenda Boardman, a senior research fellow at Oxford University, authored the report and points that homeowners choosing to adopt the plan wouldn't just be acting altruistically -- they would be saving £425 each year -- enough say, buy that new iPhone, pick up a PS3, or snag a couple of Wiis (if you could find any!).

DailyTech recently reported that UK legislators had adopted the ambitious drive for emissions to be cut by 60% of 1990 levels by 2050.  Oxford's plan is even more ambitious.  Ms. Boardman states, "The bill calls for at least a 60% reduction, which is great, but this report shows that you can get an 80% cut in the domestic sector by 2050."

The UK government has stated its intention of making every new home zero-carbon emissions by 2016, even promising to possibly ban energy-hungry plasma TVs.  However, even if this is accomplished, Boardman points out, in 2050 over 80% of people will be living in homes in homes that had already been built, so the need for reform in existing housing is essential.

Ms. Boardman went on to state that if the government wants any hope of reaching its emissions goals, then changing and modernizing home usage was an essential step.  She explains, "It is crucial because it is large. Depending on what year's measurements you use, it accounts for about 25-27% of all the UK's carbon emissions."

The precise details of the plan are as follows:

  1. The housing sector would be legal bound to cut emissions by 3.8% a year, starting in 2008 (if adopted).
  2. Build more densely concentrated homes, chiefly in urban areas, to cut car use and increase adoption of micro-generator systems.
  3. A large program of tax breaks, including taxes for installing energy efficient insulation and reduced taxes on energy efficient goods and appliances.
  4. Develop a database to track fuel efficiency across the UK and target poverty afflicted areas with additional financial assistance.
  5. Have government sponsored home analysis program which delivers efficiency certificates to homeowners looking to make improvements and gives them suggestions for various potential activities to improve the property.

In an interview with BBC News, Ms. Boardman explained the practicality of the plan, saying, "The technologies are already there.  People know about cavity wall insulation, double glazing and more efficient boilers and lighting.  We are trying to give a framework to government policy so everybody will realize this is important and what we have to do in our homes to help with climate change mitigation."

One promising idea discussed in the report is micro generation.  The concept, which can be applied equally well to businesses and large homes involves using small electric generators and heaters, typically combined to local power and heat production and take stress of the power and gas grids.  By making the production local, energy use can be cut nearly 20%.

Carbon Trust, an environmental analyst has done a study on currently implementations and after exhaustive research feels that there is definitive evidence that this local production delivers tremendous benefits.  Their representative stated, "Our analysis of more than 30,000 days worth of data shows that micro CHP can deliver significant CO2 savings for small businesses and certain types of housing. However, if the market for this exciting technology is to develop, it needs a policy framework which provides appropriate incentives to target applications which offer worthwhile carbon savings."

A recent study showed the majority of people worldwide were willing to make lifestyle changes to help the environment -- so Oxford's plan just might work.  While Britain's emissions goals seem lofty, perhaps with Oxford University's plan, the nation will have a shot of reaching them, and even put a few dollars back into homeowners' pockets in the process.

Ms. Boardman's main study can be viewed here (PDF) and an additional paper by her released this year on energy efficiency and emissions achievability can be viewed here (PDF).

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RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By howtochooseausername on 11/29/2007 6:50:10 PM , Rating: 2

You seem to have really bought into the GW/CO2 denier's propaganda.

CO2 is a leading contributor to Global Warming. Global Warming is real. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree with this. Yes there are a few scientists who disagree, but the vast majority do agree. I know that Michael Asher likes to cherry pick articles that sound as if there is no consensus. As if IPCC members themselves doubt the final conclusion, when in fact most panel members wanted stronger wording and it was the UN (mostly Saudis and China) that watered down the final document.

Sure there will always be descent, that's just human nature, heck, there are still people who deny that the holocaust took place.

I've noticed that prior to Michael's postings you actually believed in GW, and then slowly you started doubting it, to now when you don't believe it.

Go to your local university or collage and speak to some teachers/professors. Understand this thing before you take a side. It's much too important an issue for you to take any one else's word for it.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By Ringold on 11/29/2007 7:15:19 PM , Rating: 2
Go to your local university or collage and speak to some teachers/professors.

Wow. Probably one of the most uniformly liberal demographics in the nation. They wouldn't be biased at all.

The same goes for the UN.

Either way, using the IPCC's own data, the long term economic costs are so small as to be easily ignored even under a worst case scenario.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By howtochooseausername on 11/29/2007 10:09:46 PM , Rating: 2
Where else would independent research come from if not universities?

So don't believe scientific research from universities or collages, GE, Royal Dutch, BP. All of these corporations have made statements saying that they believe in Global Warming and are building/investing in green technologies.

If you don't believe that, then are you looking for something from God? In that case, Pope Benedict XVI has asked Christians to help reduce Global Warming. Same with the Church of England.

Also, what is with all of this labeling? A Liberal is a liar? Only a Liberal believes in Global Warming? Everyone in a University/Collage is a Liberal? Is that how you keep "them" away from "us"?

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By mdogs444 on 11/29/2007 11:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
Where else would independent research come from if not universities?

Technically, a university research project would not be considered independant - you have to consider the source of the grant.

Also, what is with all of this labeling? A Liberal is a liar?

Well, when you tell a liberally biased statement to a conservative, then yes that would be a correct assessment....dont forget that liberals take the same stance on this.

Only a Liberal believes in Global Warming?

Global warming is a completely one-sided issue that is being politiced from the left, that goes without saying. You will be hard pressed to find any conservative or republican who truly believes that Global Warming has any negative effects, is man made, or even exists at all. The problem with it is not just that the left is taking a stance on global warming as if we should take precautions for the environment, its also that they are using it as political leverage for their agendas - as recently as the mockery of statements by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer. All three proceeded to make a linkage between global warming and the california fires - then linking that to what they claimed as a shortage of national guardsmen to fight the fires. When that backfired, they accused global warming of "fueling" the fires. Not long ago, the same type of accusation was used by the left to link global warming to Katrina - in an effort to discredit the republicans and the president about the clean up efforts - while linking that if we cared for the global warming, that Katrina may not have happened.

So in result, it's not so much that people are saying that certain pieces of evidence don't exist for a conclusion of global warming - even though there is not any concrete scientific evidence to say without a doubt that it does - its actually just a theory. But when the left uses it as political fuel for their agendas and to promote their party - like Al Gores movie, as it was proven to be more political than science - it discredits the theory based on its motive.

Everyone in a University/Collage is a Liberal? Is that how you keep "them" away from "us"?

Not every person who goes to college or a University are liberal. However, it is a well known fact that an overwhelming majority of teachers are democrat or liberal biased. We see this every day in America from the types of issues that they preach to our kids from elementary school up through college political science classes. Its not a secret. Many professors give class lectures not based solely on the book, but out of their own opinions, and that is biased. But to teach them as facts, when they are opinions...and politically motivated opinions at that....then TomZ definately does have a point. The answer you receive from someone is only as good as the stance they take on the subject.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By mdogs444 on 11/29/2007 11:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
....then TomZ definately does have a point

Whoops, I meant to credit Ringold. TomZ was the OP of the thread.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By howtochooseausername on 11/29/2007 11:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not going to dispute that some people are using GW for political means.

In regards to GW being one sided. 13% of Republicans believe that GW is caused by human activity. Down from 22% a few years ago.

Although small, it is not a "completely one-sided issue".

Al Gore's documentary was not more political than science. Just because other people are using it for political goals, does not change the factual content of the documentary.

I don't dispute that scientists have biases and personal beleiefs. But research has been peer reviewed. What is the threshold for someone to accept a theory? There is just way too much evidence to support GW

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By Ringold on 11/29/2007 11:40:13 PM , Rating: 2
In regards to GW being one sided. 13% of Republicans believe that GW is caused by human activity.

I bet 13% of Democrats think George Bush is cute, too. :P

If that were 40-50%, I'd be impressed. 13% is such a tiny portion of what is a truly big-tent party as to simply reinforce the idea that at present its a one-sided issue. I'm actually surprised it's that low. Restores my faith in the party! Three cheers for independent thought!

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By mdogs444 on 11/29/2007 11:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
Although small, it is not a "completely one-sided issue".

When 81% of democrats beleive in global warming and 13% of republicans believe in global warming - I would say thats about as one sided as you are going to get in the political world.

Al Gore's documentary was not more political than science.

Actually, it was even ruled as such in the UK High Court. Not only was it found to be partisan and include extreme political biases, it was also found to contain the following errors, misrepresentations, and exaggerations:

The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government's expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.

The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.

The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that it was "not possible" to attribute one-off events to global warming.

The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that this was not the case.

The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant's evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.

The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.

The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.

The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.

The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

Just because other people are using it for political goals, does not change the factual content of the documentary

Al Gore is a liberal and former Vice President. Its his movie, and his political agenda for the democratic party. The only people using it for political goals are the democrats. The other problem is actually the lack of factual material and misrepresentation of the material used.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By howtochooseausername on 11/30/2007 4:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
Judge Burton agreed with the basic premise of Al Gore's movie. There were 9 items that he took exception with, but said that the movie could be shown if they were addressed.

Out of the hundreds of facts and issues covered in the documentary there were only 9 that Judge Burton could not find sufficient evidence to support. And let me state again, he agreed with the basic premise of the film.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By clovell on 11/30/2007 4:39:20 PM , Rating: 2
He agreed that raising awareness on the issue was a good thing. He did not agree that spouting FUD and doomsday scenarios camoflauged between factoids was the proper way to do it.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By mdogs444 on 11/30/2007 12:07:27 AM , Rating: 2
What is the threshold for someone to accept a theory?

The point is not when can a theory be considered fact, the point is that a theory is not fact...its nothing more than a theory.

The definition of theory is: a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact; guess; conjecture.

We have a theory of evolution that man is derived from apes - go ask a religious person why that isnt accepted. We have the big bang theory - another great theory with many possibilities, yet with no way to prove.

A theory is no more than a educated guess - which very well may be true - however it is not proven beyone a reasonable doubt to be true.

People need a 100% assurance before making life altering changes. Its like getting married when you're only 80% sure that you want to get married.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By Ringold on 11/29/2007 11:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say liberals are liars. Liberals are liberals. Conservatives are conservatives.

Would you consult only a large group of warhawk's to try to formulate an opinion of a war? Of course not. They, as a group, have various agendas to serve, certain ideologies they may be beholden to, and so forth. What about going to a Libertarian Party meeting to get opinion on tax policy? Unless the answer you want is slashing taxes and spending by half, same idea. What about looking for information on non-white ethnic groups, going to visit a Neo-Nazi website?

Likewise, also being mere humans, liberals have their own unique set of ideologies that, collectively as a group, they tend to toe.

Therefore, no, I don't give much credence to a bunch of professors who have, as a profession, been collectively pissed off since Vietnam, and liberal. They're just human.

Same goes for the UN; a long institutional history of, asides from weakness and corruption, being something of a left wing social group.

Oh, and no, not everyone at a university is liberal. I get a message every few days from the College Republican's, and they think global warming is a bunch of BS as well, and the Republican professors I know think this buzzword "sustainability" is ridiculous. Of course, the college of business is but a small redoubt of conservative thought on most campuses.

And when did I bring up god? Did Vishnu opine on carbon dioxide? Muhammed, perhaps? You're showing your own bias there, assuming a position of mine that I don't actually have.

I just pointed out that the primary source you suggested for global warming information is as an institution heavily subject to bias. There presently is no respected institution I'm aware of that doesn't share this bias, and no conservative insitutions or think-tanks I'm aware of have given much credence to this whole scare. The lack of objective data from them that supports the ideas coming from the left keeps me on the sidelines; Admiral Ackbar says it could be a trap. The ardent, but relatively small perhaps, number of respected scientists that rail against the apparent majority (at least in the share of news coverage) then moves me from the sidelines to a position of scepticism.

Again, based on the economic facts based on the IPCC's own data, we can easily afford to wait it out. Personally, I predict this will fizzle over a decade or so; the next crop of outrage has already had its seeds planted and watered with "nano particles". But if you're right, again, we've got time. Focusing instead on encouraging good governance, foreign direct investment, free trade and export-driven growth in the developing countries of the world can help the billion-plus living in extreme poverty, and in contrast, yield improvements in the lives of hundreds of millions in a much, much smaller time frame than IPCC's general projections. Not to mention, the above wouldn't cost us money; it would save us money. Possibly trillions by keeping global inflation low for another entire generation.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By Ringold on 11/29/2007 11:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
Liberals are liberals. Conservatives are conservatives.

That might've sounded wrong, as if the latter are somehow more pure on balance; I meant to construct some context around my whole first four mini-paragraphs to suggest they're all equal in bias, as they're all human, all flawed, and all with their own world views that influence everything. Consider the context now provided. My central argument, again, was that thus far all the information has come from an ideological homogenous set of institutions, and therefore isn't credible. Sorry. I wander when I'm tired, and I've slept around 5 hours a night for a month. I need at least 6 to be pithy.

If I got 8 hours, well, I'd master the universe.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By Spuke on 11/29/2007 9:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
The overwhelming majority of scientists agree with this.
People keep "saying" that there's this majority of scientists that believe this but I have yet to see any facts to support this claim. I mean NO ONE has ever presented any facts! I do know for a fact that I'll get a reply and that reply will have no facts to support these claims. I also know that the reply will simply restate what was said before as if that will magically make previous post a fact.

Or he'll just insult me. Waiting patiently.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By howtochooseausername on 11/29/2007 9:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
The following link contains specific references that you should check.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By mdogs444 on 11/29/2007 11:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
And all over that document, you will find the phrases "very likely" and "we believe" and "with 90% certainty".

The point is, you do not make major economic changes to the entire system based on a hunch, a belief, or something you cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The only thing you will certainly, beyond a reasonable doubt, do is decrease manufacturing, lose jobs, and take a possible hit to the economy....just so people can feel good that they are fighting a problem which may not even exist.

RE: CO2 Cart Before the Horse
By Ringold on 11/29/2007 11:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
I agree.

do is decrease manufacturing, lose jobs, and take a possible hit to the economy....

Correction: A definite, potentially massive if ill-managed, hit to the economy. :)

Meanwhile, if it's already partially unstoppable, and this hurricane season is any indication of things to come, why not wait 10 years? 20 years?

Oh, and I won't note this and last years hurricane season if environmentalists promise to never say the word Katrina again in regards to GW. Yeah. That'll happen.

To put it another way: When a small child makes you angry, you just don't spank it immediately, right? In a heated moment, we know we could psychologically damage a child that way, may not be fair -- might even hurt him or her physically. So what do we do? We wait until the moment passes and reasonable minds can prevail.

Right now, passions are high, the need doesn't appear to be urgent, and giving the global economy a spanking essentially condemns millions to premature death in Africa while hundreds of millions continue to starve and live short, brutish, pained existences because the developed world is too busy dismantling itself to have a need to send them factory jobs for cheap labor. Not to mention the hit to our own standard of living, but activists like to talk about poverty so I can play the same game.

When did patience ever hurt, except for in war, anyway?

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