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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 9:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
The following link contains specific references that you should check.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on...


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.

quote:
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?


"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

















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