Regional Energy Efficiency Growth Conference

The Regional Energy Efficiency Growth Conference (REEGC) was held by Broadland District Council We heard some interesting and some not so interesting speakers at the REEGC today held in Norwich. A few points were inadvertently made only further highlighting the gaps in the low carbon market that Neutral Territory will fill.

The day began with some short and bland speeches from members of Broadland district council where little was said in many words.

The first lengthier speech served to exemplify a problem that Neutral Territory addresses with our simple measure, reduce, balance model. Growing Green Homes was a domestic retrofit project commissioned by Broadland council under project manager David Daniels. The project aimed to retrofit 8 properties (7 bungalows, 1 detached 2-story 1950s house) so that they emitted 90% less Co2 than in 1990. David, however immediately caveated that they had no measurements for 1990 which seemed curious given the project goal. It transpired that it took 6 months just to survey the 8 (almost wholly one-story) properties in question and determine which retrofit measures they were going to apply generally cavity wall/roof insulation and window/door frame replacement.

This must have cost a not insignificant amount and is almost certainly un-scalable to the large number of remaining properties. This is particularly true for residential property where the tenants were kept in-house during the project.

Neutral Territory created the infinitely scalable MRB framework for commercial property to counter this issue where as much work as is immediately affordable is undertaken by NT approved suppliers and installers and the cost is passed on to the tenant alongside rent on a monthly basis. We do the same with our remaining emissions by balancing them with the World Land Trust and invoicing it likewise to tenants.

Cue Ian Hutchcroft from the Energy Saving Trust who immediately addressed the issue of scale. Ian outlined the EnergieSprong Transition-Zeroscheme devised in the Netherlands where 111,000 social houses will be completely retrofitted complete to net-zero energy. All materials are tailored and constructed in advance and applied to the house in 10 on-site days without the need for tenants to evacuate during works. EnergieSprong also aims to complete all house retrofits to a £40,000 budget using borrowed capital. This capital, just like Neutral Territory is paid back by the tenant as an energy service charge where there is no wholesale energy purchase as the properties produce as much energy as they consume. This way things can be rolled out quickly and at a large scale with an all in one hit ideology rather than the slow, piece-meal and expensive means exemplified by Growing Green Homes.

Another speaker, Wayne Hemingway brought up some interesting points in his talk about sustainability that resonated with the Neutral Territory property ethos. The first of which was about design and attachment to property; Wayne asked the question, how can something be sustainable if it isn’t ‘loved?’. This sentiment is fully endorsed by NT where we always try to create positive, attractive and health-promoting places to work. Along with our low carbon credentials, this creates a large proportion of the high esteem NT tenants hold their properties in and tend to stay put once installed.

Another sound bite Wayne mentioned was that of the power of the barbecue for bringing people together and instilling that attachment and community to a place. Whilst Wayne was referring to social housing projects, we see no reason why it should not extend to the workplace. NT properties maintain a regular social programme for tenants and landlords alike to provide this facility for tenants.

Overall the positives of the event seemed to corroborate aspects of the Neutral Territory brand, namely higher volume, lower cost, tenant funded carbon reduction measures – whilst the negatives wholeheartedly highlighted the gaps is hopes to bridge, namely high cost, low volume programmes of carbon reduction. The food wasn’t half bad either!