The Green House Meeting

On Thursday evening invited by Polly and Boo to go to an Oxford meeting on the Green House organised by COIN (Climate Outreach and Information Network). So many people turned up that they had to take over a second hall and rotate the speakers.

COIN meeting

COIN have an interesting carbon calculator. It doesn’t do the maths for you, but it has some interesting refinements:

  • it breaks down the UK average for different categories
    • domestic – 2.8 tonnes
    • land travel – 1.6 tonnes
    • air travel – 1.97 tonnes
    • consumption – 4 tonnes
    • total – 10.4 tonnes
  • the high average figure for consumption e.g. 5 tonnes to produce/buy a car. This puts us at around 2 tonnes each for consumption.
  • it gives a target of 2.5 tonnes each (down 80% from current average of 10.3)

Also clear from the presentation how heating and hot water are the primary activities to work on – responsible for 84% of domestic energy used.

domestic energy slide

So I think we were right to major on those first with the heat pump, whereas for many of the presenters their circumstances didn’t seem to give them a heat source option better than a more efficient gas boiler.

Other interesting points:

  • New houses will have energy certificates rating A-G by 2007, which will be mandatory when you sell
  • George Marshall of COIN went into fascinating detail about the work they have done on the Yellow House, a regular terrace house in Oxford. New to me were his innovations on saving water – one third of domestic water is used flushing lavatories. He uses a CD as well as a site to share the details.
  • Gavin Killip from the University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute presented the 40% House Project. This seemed to me both realistic and immaginative as to how the whole country can and must reduce domestic energy use to 40% of current levels by 2050. I only hope that, even if we achieve this, it doesn’t turn out to be too late. He also stressed importance of ‘monitoring and reporting consumption’ and ‘value of examplars’ – both of which resonate with our Climate Countdown initiative at OneWorld.
  • Some people using small windmills were bringing in the electricity at 12v, which I have always thought was a good idea, given the number of 12v devices we use, which in turn rely on transformers that stay on too much of the time.
  • Of domestic appliances, fridges consume the most. They are now rated and we should buy an A++ model next time.

Overall an inspiring evening feeling the commitment of so many people and hearing about the very practical steps they are taking.

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