The film Don’t Look Up charts the effort of scientists to alert politicians to the pending threat of an asteroid hitting the earth. The response is a mixture of denial and ineptitude when faced with the approaching disaster. The film has been widely viewed as an analogy of the way in which politicians continue to fail to address the imminent dangers posed by climate and biodiversity devastation. Don’t Look Up offers a stark warning of the dangers of inaction.
There are though positive things happening across the country to counter the climate crisis. Many councils, including Redbridge and Waltham Forest, have declared climate emergencies. These declarations have then led to policies to counter the growing levels of emissions, whether they come from buildings, transport or waste.
In the case of Redbridge and Waltham Forest, buildings were found to be major generators of CO2 emissions, 51 per cent in Waltham Forest and 56 per cent in Redbridge.
So, it has been good to see Waltham Forest taking positive action over the urgent need to retrofit old buildings, so they do not continue to create so much damage.
Waltham Forest Council, working with the Aston Group, has retrofitted a 1902 four-bedroom house to become its first ever eco show home.
The results have been revealing, with heat demand cut from 17,219 kWh to 7,995 kWh per year. The has meant savings of almost £2,000 a year, though the initial outlay for the retrofit ran to just over £37,000 (itemised costs).
The individual actions included putting in an air source heat pump that takes air from outside to provide the energy to heat the house. A new set of radiators were also fitted. The cost of installation was £10,200, the saving £860 a year, with a 4240kg saving in CO2 emissions.
Some 12 solar photovoltaic panels plus storage battery were fitted to provide the electricity to drive the heat pump and other devices in the house. The installation cost £12,294, annual saving £609, with a 653kg reduction in CO2.
Underfloor, solid wall and loft insulation were provided at a combined cost of £14,760, annual saving £528, with 1,757kg saving in CO2.
Other retrofit features include an upgrade in double glazing glass quality and a waste water recovery scheme.
The whole project shows what can be done to really cut emissions and save money. The initial outlay is high but there are grants available for some aspects of the work.
This initiative points the way toward a cleaner, greener, more healthy way of living. It will only be when there is an enforced commitment to make existing and new building zero carbon that the overall emissions will really begin to tumble across the country.
Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com