#54 Energy Flexibility for a Low Carbon Built Environment

Image source: Carbon Track

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, as I’ve been busy collating my research data and starting to pull my final thesis together. It’s been a busy period for addressing the climate emergency too. This week the 6th Carbon Budget was published by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), setting out a net zero pathway for buildings in the UK. This comes hot on the heels of the UK Government’s 10-point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the launch of the Green Homes Grant (in England) and the Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme, all of which have been announced in the last few weeks.

As they prepare for COP26, the United Nations (UN) and the UK government are hosting a Climate Ambition Summit tomorrow, which commemorate the Paris Agreement’s fifth anniversary and will offer a platform for countries to commit to more ambitious actions, such as enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and net-zero targets. Dozens of national climate commitments are expected to be unveiled as well as some new pledges from cities and businesses. Our own Prime Minister has just announced a 68% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 (below 1990 levels), which is necessary as the CCC reports that progress in delivering emissions reductions in the UK since 2015 has been slow.

I attended a Reuters Event on the Future of Renewables on Tuesday, called Preparing for COP26 – Setting the agenda now”. This brought together leaders from around the world who discussed what they would like to see as an outcome from COP26. Answers included: “humanising energy”, by making it more affordable and accessible for all; “150 countries committing to net zero by 2050”; making more people aware about what 1.5°C means and helping them understand their role in the race to zero; and increased ambition, with a suggestion that, as we’ve seen what it’s like to lose control this year, maybe we’ll act differently in the future.

The words “reduce vulnerability”, “resilience”, “adaptation”, “energy literacy”, were used – with an overriding call to focus more on people. Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General and CEO of the World Energy Council set out 4 drivers for change:

  1. Decarbonisation
  2. Digitalisation
  3. Decentralisation (renewables)
  4. Disruption (on the demand side)

She also called for “energy flexibility” – a term we use to describe the role of Active Buildings within the energy system (although she talks about it on a much larger scale); the need for diversity of solutions – not just renewables, not just electrification, but also energy storage, controls, and other solutions where appropriate. And my favourite quote from the event: “renewables need friends”.

We held an updated Active Buildings in Practice Webinar today to highlight Active Buildings as one solution to decarbonising our built environment and to help Wales and the UK meet their climate change targets for energy and carbon emission reductions.

If you want to learn more about Active Buildings, check out our Toolkit here: https://www.specific.eu.com/what-are-active-buildings/#toolkit

Published by jorclarke

I am an Architect, currently working at SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University, and studying for a Doctorate in Sustainable Built Environment (D.SBE), which is focused on developing an Active Building Design Guide.

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