University experts claim a missed opportunity for improved energy efficiency

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Experts from Birmingham City University have criticised the Government’s proposals to build on brownfield sites thousands of new homes which would be exempt from the zero carbon homes standard and other taxes, claiming this is "a short-sighted approach that misses a major opportunity to reduce significantly the carbon emissions of much-needed new homes".

Professor Keith Osman, Director of Research at Birmingham City University, is urging the Government to look longer term and use a more integrated strategy in future planning, an approach currently being pioneered by a pan-European consortium led by the University.

"Ignoring climate change and easing regulations to reduce construction costs in the short term is a false economy for planners when planning to build new homes on this scale. The use of analytic tools demonstrates clearly that reductions in energy usage, which reduces both CO2 emissions and energy costs for the occupants, can always be achieved and should a compulsory requirement for all new build housing.

"The KIC-Transitions (KIC-T) project brings together data, modelling and visualisation tools to provide a comprehensive simulation framework that will assist strategic planning. This integrated platform enables 'plug-in' to a wide range of information sets for analysis of key environmental impacts, including energy needs, noise pollution or carbon emissions.  

"This highlights just how important our project will be in helping planners to better assess the impact such ambitious proposals will have when built without due enforcement of regulations that minimise environmental impact."

Professor Osman said the enhanced modelling capability being developed through KIC-T will allow planners, designers, local authorities and house-dwellers to better understand the full implications of planning decisions.

"KIC-T is defining standards and software to allow data, models and visualisation tools to be readily plugged together, allowing more comprehensive models to be created which can be applied to all building projects around the world," he added.

Dave Taylor, KIC-T Project Manager, said: "KIC-T has a real opportunity to make a significant contribution to modelling and visualising building and construction plans and demonstrates the commitment that Birmingham City University has to the wider sustainability and climate change agenda."

The KIC-T project team includes Birmingham City University (co-ordinator), ETH Zurich, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, plus large international companies including ESRI and IBM, smaller companies like Aria Technologies, SmarterBetterCities and Greenhill and the three cities of Birmingham, Utrecht and Zurich.

The Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership, working together to address the challenge of climate change. The Climate-KIC is funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) which has a wider mission to increase European sustainable growth and competitiveness by reinforcing the innovation capacity of the EU.

Find out more about the KIC-T project

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