JGA’s architectural practice manager Miles Pengelley attended a recent Chamber of Commerce lunch, where attendees listened to a panel discussion about energy, and in particular the consumption of fossil fuels. Here is his take on the matter.
The biggest contributors to our carbon footprint are space heating and transport.
As an architectural technologist who designs new spaces for clients every day, the former really drew my attention to the discussion.
Naturally, a lot of us are guilty of pointing out the grand quick fix, rather than considering a simpler, more personally demanding means of improving a situation.
In this case, the situation is consumption of fossil fuels and the ever-inflating running costs associated with them.
The quick fix answer to reducing the impact of using fossil fuels is to replace them with renewable energies, such as wind or solar power. However, this is quite simply easier said than done.
The other obvious solution in considering space heating is insulation. However, again, there is cost associated to this, and with protective measures to maintain aesthetics and historical features of a building this is not always possible.
But for those properties with the feasibility, perhaps support could be provided for this, and renewable technologies, from government?
But we can all do something now, to help reduce our consumption of fossil fuels for space heating.
I’m sure we could each lower the thermostat at home or work, by a degree or two, and fashion an extra layer for warmth. Or better manage the heating of rooms that aren’t actually occupied so to reduce our energy consumption.
Thermal comfort is of course subjective, so there won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ temperature to recommend, particularly as building fabrics across the island can vary so much.
An apt expression from one of the panelists at the recent Chamber of Commerce lunch discussing energy, advised that ‘you can only manage what you measure’, which begs the question – how can the island go about measuring the energy usage of households?
New build dwellings of course need to meet the building regulations, which in Guernsey are less than the UK.
Why not set a better, minimum standard within our Guernsey Technical Standards? This would of course only address new housing stock, so what about existing dwellings?
Perhaps an islandwide property survey could be commissioned by the States of Guernsey to allow our energy specialists to make space heating recommendations to the user, to reduce their energy use and the associated cost.
Naturally there is a major amount of time and money to be invested in this research. But as we consider technologies to improve our energy usage, perhaps this is the staring point we need. Otherwise we will be relying on replacement of our housing stock, which will take time.
Education is a key factor to this shift in considering how we achieve our decarbonisation targets, so it may come to delivering specific advice to homeowners to get the island to listen and adopt the recommended adjustments, where feasible.
This is something that JGA frequently does with clients and specialists to consider energy costs based on structure, heating, hot water and lighting systems.
A collaborative approach between suppliers appears evident from this discussion and they seem to be proactively working in the background with the same goal of achieving a net zero carbon target by 2050.
But whilst those specialists look at the bigger picture, maybe we can make a small adjustment to the use of energy supplies, for the benefit of our community, let alone the planet.