Something has changed

by Mike Travers
AFTER an enforced absence for medical reasons it was disconcerting to return to the fray and discover that little had changed in the intervening months. ‘Shovel ready’ is still the buzz phrase, the politicians continue weaving spells to trick us into believing –– contrary to what those at the sharp end say – that all is rosier in the construction garden, and wind farms remain the key to saving the nation and upsetting Donald Trump.
But wait, here’s something new; Scotland’s buildings are to become ‘even more energy efficient’ according to planning minister Derek Mackay as he announced a consultation on proposals to make new homes reduce their carbon emissions by around a further 20% and new non-domestic buildings by up to 40% beyond current standards.
The intention is to introduce these standards at the beginning of 2014. It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts but it is difficult to see how it can react given the paucity of detail at this stage, although trade body Homes for Scotland was quick off the mark to point out that new homes make up only 0.63% of Scotland’s total annual housing stock and have already reduced their carbon emissions by 70% since 1990.
It’s laudable that the Scottish Government continues its attempts to lower our energy use and emissions. But can it happen by 2014?
It might be prudent to consider the example of the construction equipment industry where manufacturers have been working on measures to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. The programme has so far lasted a decade and is currently entering the fifth round of the regulatory process.