British Embassy and Council promote ‘green’ constrution

news: British Embassy and Council promote ‘green’ constrution

AS PART of Britain’s ongoing commitment to measures aimed at protecting the environment, the British Embassy and British Council co-hosted a seminar last week on environmentally friendly construction.

Opened by the British ambassador to Portugal, Mr. John Buck and Eduardo Maldonado, Director General of Geology and Energy, the seminar lined up some of the leading names in sustainable construction design such as Jorge Caeiro of CaRB – Carbon Reduction in Buildings.

Chaired by Manuel Correia Guedes, from the Instituto Superior Técnico, guest speakers included Francisco Ferreira of Portuguese environmental pressure group Quercus, John Faulks talking on solar energy, Sandy Halliday (Gaia Group) on ‘green’ building, and Miguel Marques da Silva from Son Energy on sustainable development.

The all day seminar provided an excellent opportunity for the leaders in the field, both in the UK and Portugal, to share experiences and discuss sustainable construction methods, in the context of current European Union directives on energy efficiency and air quality within buildings.

The new EU directives mean that Portugal, in line with the other EU countries, will have to clean up its act with regards to construction, energy efficiency, renewable energy technology, and bio friendly sustainable materials used in construction.

Building and energy management suppliers, and related services in this area, now have a golden opportunity to promote and sell their products, while at the same time significantly increasing energy efficiency levels in Portugal. This is a country that has seen energy consumption rocket by between five and eight per cent per annum in recent years.

The UK is considered a world leader in environmentally friendly projects, energy efficiency, renewable energy, recycling, alternative bio friendly energy sources, and environmentally friendly materials.

All this has emerged against a backdrop whereby the UK is committed to reducing carbon and methane emissions by 60 per cent by the year 2050, and believes that energy efficiency and sustainability in domestic as well as industrial spheres are essential in achieving this aim.

A key supporter of the Kyoto Accord, and tireless in its attempts to persuade the US and other countries to face the reality of climate change caused by CO2 emissions, the British government launched an ambitious programme in 2004 called ‘Energy Efficiency’ The Government’s Plan for Action.

This has established a series of measures and policies that envisages a reduction of carbon emissions in the domestic sector by 12 million tonnes a year by 2010 – cutting the total domestic energy bill by three billion pounds.

Meanwhile, throughout July and running through to September, a public consultation paper entitled ‘Micro-generation and Low Carbon Buildings Programme is under discussion.

Malcolm Wicks, the UK’s Energy Minister has said, “Many people are keen to do their bit to help cut climate changing emissions. They have the potential to make a big difference since nearly half of all the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings.”

Jorge Caeiro who moved to the UK six years ago said, “in the UK energy studies are far more developed than in Portugal and these studies are interesting for us.”

“After gaining both knowledge and experience in the UK this can be applied to Portugal as well and that’s the main reason I’ve been working there,” he said.

“Considering climate change will be one of the most important issues this century, we really don’t have a choice but to pursue this avenue,” he stressed.

Mr. John Buck said that the joint British Embassy/British Council organised event was one of a series of environmental seminars that have been run during the last two years.

“We hope to bring together people in government in Portugal and the UK but also people from private companies in the sector.”

The British government which also leads the rotating EU Presidency, hopes to generate a new dynamism and international direction to tackle climate change and global warming. “This should include a package of practical measures on what we can do and better buildings worldwide will be an important element in the coming years in managing climate change, and reducing its impact,“ says Buck.