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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 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.

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