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Zero Carbon Homes Abandoned by UK Government

The UK government recently announced that zero carbon homes 2016 and zero carbon buildings 2019 (non-domestic) will be abandoned. The zero carbon homes policy was designed so that all new buildings would generate as much energy from on-site renewables (PV, wind,…etc) as they consume to heat and power the building. It was a flagship environmental policy and was billed as the first country to ‘commit’ to carbon neutral buildings. Once more the quote “greenest government ever” comes to mind!

So what does this mean for the carbon footprint of the buildings sector? 
Energy consumption in the building sector is projected to double by 2050 and the carbon footprint is expected to increase by anywhere from 50-150% on this timeline. It is therefore unfortunate that this flagship policy has been abandoned.

A further implication is that the removal of 2016 zero carbon homes further extends the debate around refurbishment versus replacement. Furthermore, refurbishment was identified as a key carbon mitigation measure by the IPCC. A large amounts of embodied energy and embodied carbon is invested in a building structure and by retaining as much structure as possible the whole life carbon footprint of the building project is reduced.

Recent analysis by Circular Ecology suggested that with current building regulations it could take 34 years for the lower operational carbon of a new build house to payback the embodied carbon of building a new house. With the scrapping of 2016 zero carbon homes the question of refurbishment or replacement has never been more important. 

Source: Circular Ecology News RSS

Greek debt crisis demonstrates perils of lending to your euro friends

Eurozone must develop insolvency procedures that prevent other member states – and their taxpayers – becoming creditors through debt mutualisation

After months of games and brinkmanship, and only a week after Greek voters rejected the conditions for a €7.5bn (£5.3bn) rescue package, the end came swiftly. The eurozone’s political leaders agreed to start negotiations on a much larger package, worth €86bn , almost half of Greece’s GDP. Unfortunately, the deal reveals Europe’s apparent determination to reenact the same tragedy in the future.

Over the past five years, a whopping €344bn has flowed from official creditors such as the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund into the coffers of the Greek government and the country’s commercial banks. But after six months of near-futile negotiations, exhaustion had set in and holidays were beckoning; so the actual conditions for a new Greek rescue were given short shrift. Although the European Financial Stability Facility (EDSF) had officially declared Greece bankrupt on 3 July, the eurozone’s leaders kicked the insolvency can down the road yet again.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

What are the limits of a business's responsibility for its employees? – video

There has been a big shift in corporate responsibility over the past decade – particularly the extent to which corporates take responsibility for their employees. The scope of a business’s duty of care has extended to include health, wellbeing and even the welfare of employee families and broader communities.

But is this responsibility fair on business? And does paternalistic intervention feel appropriate or comfortable for employees? Where should the limits be and to what extent should responsibility be shared with governments, NGOS and individuals themselves?

Experts at a recent roundtable discussed the level to which businesses should be responsible for employees and how this can best work in practice to benefit businesses and individuals.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

UK growth accelerates; Greece begins talks with creditors – as it happened

Britain’s GDP-per-head is finally back to its pre-crisis levels, but factories are struggling to grow

2.11pm BST

PS: Don’t miss this piece on child poverty in the UK ; worth considering alongside today’s ‘encouraging’ GDP data:

Related: Britain’s rich are thrust into the future. The poor get kicked back into the past | Aditya Chakrabortty

Excellent @Chakrabortty piece on child poverty, charity and holiday hunger, a "Live Aid" for Britain’s poor

2.06pm BST

That may be all for today, I think. I’ll be back if there’s any major news out of Greece. Otherwise, enjoy the afternoon….. GW

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

House prices in England and Wales hit record high

Average house prices overtake the pre-crash record for the first time, Land Registry figures reveal

House prices in England and Wales have climbed to a new record high after overtaking the previous peak reached at the height of the property boom, according to official data.

The Land Registry said the average home saw more than 1% added to its value in June 2015 alone, and said 21 London boroughs had seen annual price growth of at least 10%.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Bank of England: Gertjan Vlieghe named as new MPC member

Senior economist at hedge fund returns to Bank of England, replacing David Miles on rate-setting committee

Chancellor George Osborne has announced that Gertjan Vlieghe, a senior economist at hedge fund Brevan Howard, will replace David Miles on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee.

The move marks a return to the Bank for the dual British-Belgian national Vlieghe, who was economic assistant to the previous governor Lord Mervyn King. He left that post to work as a bond strategist at Deutsche Bank in London before moving to Brevan Howard, where he is a partner.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Tesco to stop selling lunchbox-size sugary Ribena and Capri-Sun

High-sugar drinks withdrawn over concerns about childhood obesity, but supermarket will still sell ‘no added sugar’ versions and larger bottles for adults

Sugary drinks designed for children’s school lunchboxes are to be withdrawn from sale at Tesco amid concern over childhood obesity.

From September, Tesco will stop selling pouches and cartons of high-sugar Ribena, Capri-Sun and Rubicon drinks that have been popular with parents, often marketed as “fun”, “perfect for on the go” and “your daily dose of Vitamin C”.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Next raises profit expectations after warm weather helps sales

Forecast for full-year profits is increased to £825m after sales rise of 3.3% in the six months to 25 July

Next has increased its profit expectations for the year by 2% after warm weather helped to increase sales.

Shares in the clothing and homewares retailer rose 2% to £76.55, close to a five-year high, as it said total sales were up by 3.3% in the half-year to 25 July. Previously, Next’s chief executive, Simon Wolfson, had predicted sales would increase by between 0% and 3%.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS