Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050: a Green Revolution

Bold Ambition? UK to Legislate 2050 Net-Zero carbon target.

Last night, Theresa May, in one of her final acts as UK Prime Minister, pledged to take on board recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change to establish a legally binding net-zero target by 2050.

The approach, proposed today (Wednesday 12 June 2019), would see the UK become the first member of the G7 group of countries to legislate for net zero emissions.

This is a bold commitment. It is a (in our view exciting) response to increased public awareness of environmental issues and the dangers faced from a ‘climate emergency’.

This follows parliament’s declaration of a climate change emergency back at the start of May and Theresa May’s determination to leave a positive legacy after she steps down from the role of Prime Minister.

Whilst this is an exciting step, there is a lot to do and 2050 is just over 30 years away.  The strategy and the means to deliver on this target is yet to be determined. Key questions include:

  • How will it be financed?
  • What technologies will be given priority?
  • And what will the role be of international carbon credits? Net Zero plans will allow the offsetting of emissions.  Control is needed to prevent and avoid loopholes

Some of the negative press about the plan focuses on cost. The Treasury has indicated that is will cost £1 trillion. However, this misses the point. Calculations don’t, for example, consider the uplift in the green economy for example. And in even simpler terms, the long term costs of not doing anything are far greater.

This is just the beginning of this new phase of tackling climate change, it isn’t a silver bullet and there is much detail to agree for an effective strategy to be set in place. Time will tell, but for now, I am going to be positive.

It really does feel like we are turning the corner.

Fire dampers: still a key risk for commercial buildings despite Grenfell disaster

One of the biggest risk areas we see, when EDGE carry out audits of planned preventative maintenance work on large commercial buildings, is a failure to regularly test and maintain fire and smoke dampers.

This seems strange given the Grenfell Tower disaster should have focused the minds of all property managers and landlords on the measures they need to take to stop fires occurring.

The subsequent inquiry raised question marks over whether the smoke dampers in Grenfell Tower failed, which may have contributed to thick smoke filling common areas hindering rescue attempts.

Fire safety is one of those areas often treated as a tickbox requirement by facilities managers, yet its importance cannot be understated, given the potentially horrific outcome when a fire takes hold in a tall, closed, commercial building filled with lots of office workers.

Dampers are essential to stopping the spread of fire and smoke. They are installed in the ducts of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and will automatically close on detection of heat or smoke (depending on their purpose). This prevents fire and smoke from spreading, via the ductwork, to the rest of the building.

The exclusion of ventilation ductwork in planned preventative maintenance (PPM) programmes is a common occurrence and fire damper testing is often no more than a visual inspection. It is not uncommon for fire dampers to have been poorly installed and poor testing regimes mean this may never be discovered until it is too late.

Some of the reasons why people often fail to test their fire dampers on a regular basis are because they are hidden in the ductwork, it can be difficult to gain access and testing can be a time-consuming process.

But failure to meet the testing regime stipulated under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2015 in England and Wales (as well as Scottish and Northern Irish Fire Safety Regulations) can lead to fines of up to £10,000 and two years in prison for the designated responsible person.

A prohibition notice can be issued to close a building down if the local fire officer is not satisfied that compliance with the act is being achieved.

It may also put the insurance of your building at risk as insurance companies will often require proof of damper testing when assessing claims for fire damage.

British standards in this area require 100% of fire dampers in a building to be tested at least once a year, and more frequently in ventilation systems that are at higher risk. Each damper should be drop tested and then reset to open. A full test report is required, including photographs of each tested damper in the open and dropped position. A schedule of remedial works should be included in the report.

Access panels should be installed on both sides of the damper to enable full inspection.

Fire compartmentation is another important element of ‘passive fire protection’ and is achieved by dividing the premises into ‘fire compartments’ through the use of fire-resistant doors, floors and walls and cavity barriers within roof voids, for example. A full compartmentation audit should also be carried out by a specialist risk assessor and reviewed regularly as part of maintenance schedules.

EVORA EDGE is able to create comprehensive PPM plans and audit existing PPM plans for both individual buildings and portfolios of assets. For more information contact the EDGE team on 01743 341903 or email info@evoraedge.com