Friday, October 16, 2020

Green Homes: Warm Homes


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Green Homes: Warm Homes

Hello and welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday, the 16th of October. I’m Anthony Day. This week I'm talking about green homes and warm homes: specifically the government’s Green Homes Grant. In a moment there’s an interview with Simon Ayers, CEO of TrustMark. To qualify for the grant, homeowners must use a TrustMark registered business to carry out the work. Now of course I realise that at first sight this will be relevant only to people in England, but stay with me, because warm and energy-efficient homes and quality installation must be of interest to us all. 


Also today I’ll be introducing Alex Brown, our latest gold patron. I’ll be talking about what the expert said when he came to look at the energy efficiency of our home. And finally, people in a remote area of Scotland are preparing something out of this world.

First let me welcome Alexander Brown our new Gold Patron. He tells me that he’s in line for president of the gardening club at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and has plans to build a vertical farm on the premises. We’ve looked at vertical farms in the past. Do please keep us in touch with your progress, Alex. And if anyone has experience of this to share please do get in touch. 

Whole House Survey

Andy Walker of Sure Insulation came round this week to assess how energy-efficient our home is. You know how builders go tssss? You know something’s going to be expensive. I was quite confident, because we had extensive renovations done to the property in 2004 and 2008 and so everything was up to the current standards at the time. Standards have moved on a lot since then. 

Insulation not heating

What we learnt was that before looking at ways of improving the heating system the priority must be stopping the heat from leaking out of the house. A house built or retrofitted to the Passivhaus house standard typically uses less than £100 worth of energy p.a. for all heating, lighting and cooking, because it is highly insulated. Houses can be retrofitted to that standard, although it’s expensive and usually very disruptive. 

We learnt that the most cost-effective measures are insulating the walls, floors and ceilings, but they are also the most disruptive. Cladding the walls and filling voids below floors means you will usually have to re-plaster and redecorate and you may have to replace floorboards. The project must be expertly designed, because imperfect installation can lead to cold bridging or the ingress of water. Ventilation is also crucial. Ventilation units with heat recovery keep the air fresh without cold draughts. 

In our case we have solid floors, so difficult to insulate. We also have a large area of glass and a large single-glazed bay window. Argon-filled double or even triple glazing will be the solution here. We’ll also look at curtains and blinds. Walls will be for another day.

If I can get a grant for these improvements I’ll need to employ a TrustMark registered business.

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to Simon Ayers, CEO of TrustMark, earlier this week. Here’s what we discussed.

Interview text to follow

Many thanks to Simon Ayers, CEO of TrustMark. You’ll find TrustMark at and links to the Grant Scheme and the simple energy advice site are below/on the blog at . That, incidentally, is the link to my new website which will go live in the next few days to provide blog and podcast in one location.

And Finally…

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is backing the construction of a missile launch site in the far north of Scotland. There are many planning hurdles to cross and environmentalists to placate before this can become a reality but it appears that the plan is to use the site to put small satellites into Geo-stationary polar orbit. This comes at a time when the government admits that its plans for a homegrown alternative to the European Galileo GPS system, from which the UK will be excluded post Brexit, has failed after the expenditure of £64 million. Undeterred, Alok Sharma the business secretary has authorised expenditure of £400 million on the purchase of OneWeb, a satellite firm which entered bankruptcy earlier this year, despite warnings from his most senior civil servant that it may not represent good value for public money. OneWeb has no navigational capabilities. It’s been compared by the i-newspaper to a ferry company with no ships.

The UK’s share of the Galileo investment, from which we will not now benefit although it’s been paid, is estimated at £1.2 billion. 

Are we all living in the same world? Let’s hope that Sharma makes a better job as chair of COP26, although as I write there’s a rumour that former UK prime minister Theresa May will take over the role. Let’s hope that….well let’s just hope.

And that’s it…

Well I think that's about enough for this week. Thank you once again for listening - especially my patrons both new and long-standing. If you’d like to join them all the details are at Links to all these stories are below.

The will of course be another Sustainable Futures Report next week. I already have masses of items stored up. I believe that the IMF and the World Bank are having big meetings so they will probably feature.

While I firmly believe that the climate crisis is the greatest crisis facing humanity, I don't underestimate the extreme stresses and strains which many people are experiencing as a result of the present pandemic. I sincerely hope that you are safe and well and will continue to be so.

I’m Anthony Day.

That was the Sustainable Futures Report.

Until next time.


Green Homes

Green Homes Grant: homeowners frustrated by lack of installers

And Finally…

Residents of remote peninsula face up to its future as spaceport 

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