We’re living through a time of great change. Concern for the environment and the quality of our own lives as well as the health of the planet are paramount.
The building services industry is facing the challenges head-on and here are five stories we’re planning to keep a close eye on through in 2020.
Hydrogen – fuel of the future?
At the moment the use of natural gas in heating and cooking is responsible for about a third of UK emissions so the hunt is on for a more sustainable alternative.
The burning of Hydrogen to produce energy is a much cleaner option as it produces just water.
An exciting trial at Keele University in Staffordshire is bringing this possibility of replacing natural gas with a gas/hydrogen mix a step closer.
It’s thought that gas/hydrogen mix could be delivered to homes and businesses throughout the UK via our existing gas network and that existing boilers can be made hydrogen-ready with minimal intervention.
To find out more about the Keele University study, please click here
F-Gas – and the impact of recent legislative changes
Under UK and EU legislation a ban came into force on 1 January this year to prevent the use of refrigerant HFC gases with a global warming potential greater than 2500.
These include R404A and R507A, which are widely used. HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and the UK and EU have regulations that will phase down the use of HFCs by 79% by 2030.
This ruling has had a significant impact on many businesses in the UK.
Over the last year or so, businesses have been asked to seek advice on finding alternatives such as recycled or reclaimed HFC gases, until their equipment reaches its natural end of life and can be replaced by more energy efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives.
The impact of poor air quality on the young
A major report on the health effects of indoor air quality on children and young people, led by world expert on asthma, Stephen Holgate, found that current building regulations contain few specific standards for air quality.
Air pollution has been linked to serious health conditions such as cancer, asthma and cardiovascular diseases.
As children are spending more and more of their lives indoors, the health impact of the air within our homes and schools needs to be taken seriously as a significant source of ill health.
The report which involved the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, recommends that architects, designers and building professionals should be presented with information about the risks of poor air quality and advice on how to prevent it.
The working group makes a call to central government and local authorities to introduce emissions labelling for household products and building materials.
The report also suggest establishing a process for people in rented and social housing to report indoor air quality problems as well as provide assistance for necessary improvements.
The full report can be read here
Improving energy efficiency
One of the biggest challenges we face over the next three decades is working out how to retrofit most of our housing stock so that it is much more energy efficient.
There are very strong arguments for investing in energy efficiency – reductions in energy bill and carbon emissions are clear, but energy-efficient homes are warmer, healthier places to live.
Retro-fitting also provides an economic up-lift, supporting local tradespeople and small businesses with the skills to deliver the necessary improvements.
If we are to fully commit to zero emissions by 2050, individual owner-occupiers, private landlords and local authorities all need to make energy efficiency a priority.
Tackling fuel poverty and improving the quality of social housing is a major impetus for improving energy efficiency.
Inefficient housing impacts more than finances. Cold and damp homes have a negative impact on health and wellbeing, especially vulnerable individuals such as the elderly or disabled.
There are some pioneering, innovative ideas out there designed to help eliminate fuel poverty.
Many local authorities are promoting schemes to help people manage their energy usage with smart meters. Smart meters are also being investigated as a tool for identifying those suffering from fuel poverty in real time, helping to target and prioritise upgrade works.
In a recent radio interview, Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, repeated her call for the government to fully commit to a range of measures to put energy-efficiency higher up its agenda.
Electric Vehicles – the way forward
The electric car market is growing rapidly, with almost 265,000 models registered for use on UK roads at the end of December 2019. Just short of 73,000 electric cars were sold during 2019 alone, which beat projected figures.
The government recently changed its ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2040 to 2035 so electric vehicles are clearly the way forward.
As numbers are set to keep on rising at an exponential rate, the need for a more comprehensive charging network has never been greater.
It’s important to ensure that everyone has easy access to a well-structured EV charging network across the UK.
In a recent report, National Grid suggests that local authorities can help support this transition by investing in charge points. Specialist training courses have since been developed to equip professional electricians to help meet the demand.
Is your business part of the building services landscape? Contact us to see if we can help build your brand in 2020.
Written by Jello team member, Emily Hedges.