MAKING THE MOST OF BEING AT HOME

As events overtake us, we have been thinking about how we can respond positively to the lockdown, so that we come out of the other end stronger and more resilient. In a matter of days, many orthodoxies have been turned on their head, particularly the idea that the state is powerless, and that there is no money to make changes. Governments across the world have been willing to take dramatic action to tackle the virus, and we may hope that they show the same resolve with the long-term threat of climate change. The globalised system that allowed coronavirus to spread needs replacing with a kinder, more sustainable, more local way of living.

Here are some positive things we can do while we are in lockdown.

Embrace Active Travel

Walk or cycle whenever possible. The streets have never been emptier nor freer of pollution. Create the time to make short trips without the car. While you are out, listen to nature.

Cycling in London is very safe, and can greatly improve your fitness and wellbeing. London Cycling Campaign has excellent resources to help you return to the bicycle, including plenty of advice on how to make your riding technique better.

Grow Your Own Food

You would be amazed at what you can do with just a couple of square metres of garden or suitably placed window box. Runner beans and courgettes are easy to grow and will give you a great crop. Garden Organic is full of resources to help you get started, including a calendar of what you can be doing now.

Green Your Finances and Home

Change to a green energy supplier. Ask your pension provider if your pension is invested in fossil fuels and try to change to renewables. Research simple energy-saving upgrades to your home such as draughtproofing, insulation or solar panels so you are ready to go when the lockdown ends.

Ealing council offers a free Healthy Homes Ealing programme, which currently includes an energy advice and a Green Doctor telephone consultation service. The telephone consultation is an outbound service, so when a resident makes contact, they will speak to a booking administrator who will assess their interest and suitability for a telephone consultation.

Email HealthyHomesEaling@ealing.gov.uk, find the online referral form here or telephone 0800 0830 2265

Explore The Possibilities of New Connections

Many people have already reached out to neighbours. Why not use these new connections to organise collectively, on a street-by-street basis? Could every street recycle its own food waste, making useful compost? Could resources like tools, ladders or mowers be pooled? Could every street run a car pool or install a bike bunker? Could every street have its own ‘street warden’?

Imagine A Better Future

Catch up on some films and books about practical responses to the climate crisis, and discuss with your friends. Some of these are available free, some may cost a small fee.

Films

Books

  • On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein
  • No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
  • The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac


Stay Safe. Stay Well. Stay Connected. Stay active.

We are suspending our regular meetings in response to the coronavirus outbreak. We hope that all of our members will stay safe and well. In the meantime, stay in touch with us via our web site, our facebook page, by email and by twitter. Feel free to set up your own virtual groups and initiatives and connect with us. We’d love to hear from you.

The Transition Network focusses on community – specifically communities coming together to solve problems and build resilience. That message may seem ironic during a period of social distancing and self-imposed isolation, but there is no contradiction – we can still remember our neighbours, and use phone, email, and social media to stay connected and support each other. We can also use this time to think about how we would like our communities and national life to change for the better.

One of the guiding principles of the Transition Movement is ‘imagination’: reimagining and rebuilding our world for the better. The coronavirus has shown us that we can work together nationally and globally to meet an urgent challenge. It has also showed us that our current way of life is vulnerable to disruption from the smallest, most unpredictable of causes. It has provided opportunities for the better angels of our nature to organise and support vulnerable members of the community.

Once the coronavirus outbreak has passed, there will be a need for rebuilding and regeneration. At that time, let’s be ready to demand policies and actions that preserve the health of our communities, our environment and our planet.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay connected. Stay active.

Future Homes Standard Consultation: Have your say by 7 February 2020

The government is carrying out a consultation on new draft building regulations, called the Future Homes Standard. The current draft is causing some concern. First, it is not ambitious enough, and may prevent local councils from achieving their zero carbon targets by 2030. Second, it could actually result in homes being built to a poorer standard compared to present regulations.

How to respond

The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) has done a great job of explaining the issues here, even identifying how you can respond to the consultation questions. The first link here is to a quick PDF primer (115KB), while the second here is to the consulation questions and draft answers (94KB). Although the consultation is rather long, and gets technical quickly, it would in fact be sufficient to provide answers to just four of the first five questions (if you want to respond to more, go for it!).

Having read LETI’s guidance, please do use your own wording to respond, so that your responses are counted separately and not simply marked as duplicates and discounted. Please also consider emailing your MP and calling on them to take part. You can take part in the consultation simply by emailing: FutureHomesStandardConsultation@communities.gov.uk

The Issues

The first five question of the consultation concern targets, timescales, fabric performance and local councils. As LETI notes:

  • The Future Homes Standard 2020 does not promote a well- insulated building fabric, in fact under the new regulations new homes could be less insulated in 2020 than under Building Regulations 2013.
  • The more we can insulate our homes the less energy they will use for heating. We should not be designing and building homes that will need retrofitting with additional insulation in the future. A well-insulated building represents our greatest chance of meeting our climate commitments in new homes.

London Borough of Ealing has declared a climate emergency and is committed to reaching zero carbon by 2030. The current Future Homes Standard does not acknowledge that 100% of buildings designed and built by 2025 must be Net Zero if we hope to achieve those goals.

Further, the science is clear that 2050 is far too late a target, and that setting regulations with that end goal is reckless. We must be building to meet Net Zero, beginning immediately.

Taking away the ability of local authorities to set building regulation standards above the UK standard would set housing back a full decade. Local authorities know their housing stock and can plan local efficiency strategies which make the most sense for those properties.

Just taking 10 to 15 minutes to respond to the consultation could make a huge difference. The consultation closes on 7 February 2020.

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