Over the past few weeks we have been uploading regular installments of our exclusive interview with Kevin McCloud. The TV presenter and property guru has shared what he thinks makes a design truly grand, his hopes for the British housing market, and now, in the final installment - and as Grand Designs Live opens its doors - McCloud shares some advice to make our homes greener.
Your interest in sustainable design and house building is well known, is the move towards sustainability in construction and housing high enough on the agenda in the UK?
Yeah. Yes. It wasn’t. But suddenly it is, it’s suddenly there because Gordon Brown committed to an 80 per cent reduction in C02 emissions by 2050 and suddenly in one fell swoop Britain jumped from being the world’s laggard in our commitment to reducing CO2 levels to being the world’s vanguard. And now other countries look to us as an extraordinary example as to what can be said and done. Whether we can achieve it is another matter, we have to try. Part of that is how we refurbish our existing homes, part of that is dealing with the new technologies we show at Grand Designs or the new low carbon / zero carbon technologies and part of that of course is what the Department of Energy and the CLG are trying to deal with in evolving their localism agendas and their planning policy over the next five years or so. We’re at the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in trying to figure out how we’re going to this and it’s very exciting.
Would you say you’re happy with the way it’s going?
It’s very early days right now because we’re in the early days of Government, you know, they’ve been in six or seven months, lots of changes are happening, there’s lots of complaints that of course in the boom time of the quangos many of the wrong agencies were thrown out and there are great big holes in planning policy and in general government policy because of course they are trying to make changes very quickly. But they’re trying to make changes and these build on some of the changes that, for example, Ed Milliband when he was Energy Secretary, before Chris Huhne, instigated, so, Ed Milliband has to be given some credit for much of what’s going on and I think at the moment, any move which shakes up the planning system – which is what it’s doing – and empowers communities and says what matters is groups of people living together and empowering themselves, I’m not going to argue with any of that. I think they are fine objectives, the issues, the small print, how we get there, who’s going to get hurt on the way and how quickly we can really devise a planning system which protects communities and truly cares about them which also informs them as well and I think what we’re missing at the moment is the design guidance but that’s coming along. Within a year we’ll be in a clearer place than we are now, I hope so.
Is the ideal green home an unattainable pipe dream for ordinary people in the UK?
No. I mean, see above. Part of the Great British Refurb which is the initiative between Grand Designs, WWF and Energy Saving Trust is about retrofitting the 26 million existing homes in Britain, that’s a big, big agenda for us and we’re working with the government on consultancy and on community consultation this year as well so that’s something we’ll be discussing at Grand Designs Live, of course we’ll be discussing the great self build revolutions, we’ll be discussing retrofitting with Government Ministers and these are really hot on the agenda right now. So, no, no, no, if you’d asked me that question two years ago I would have said 'Hmm, bit of a way off' but funnily enough, two years on, perilously close. There’s a sort of sense of acceleration now – both towards the 2016 target for zero carbon in construction builds so because with a new Government there’s a sense of, you know, getting on with it, just get on with it. I mean, if some of the i’s and t’s aren’t dotted and crossed then get on with it and figure it out as we go along. And the technologies of course that are being delivered. Every year there’s a new, really exciting, unusual new technology which is pushing us ever closer to zero carbon. We’ve got this thing called Kevin’s Green Heroes at Grand Designs Live which is showcasing new technologies and we’ve got one or two really exciting new technologies; including a new cement which is very low carbon and should hopefully make a phenomenal impact on the carbon footprint of construction, so it’s exciting times right now.
What are the most important steps for home owners who want to make their homes greener?
Insulate. Insulate. Insulate. Instead of Location, location, location it should be insulation, insulation, insulation. Dark rooms and I love this analogy, the fact that when you turn off the heating and your house goes cold, the heating doesn’t disappear, the warmth goes through the walls and through the ceiling and it goes out into the atmosphere, it’s still there as energy, it’s just dissipated up and it’s still there, it’s moving up into the atmosphere. It’s energy that you’ve created by burning fossil fuel in your boiler, that you spent money on and it’s gone, to keep the place warm and I think how bonkers is that you know, surely, can’t we just keep it in there a bit longer! Just spend this money and save money and burn less you know. It’s thinking about the house as simply, not as solid bricks and mortar, but as this thin shell through which stuff evaporates and disappear, and the longer we can keep it in there, the better.
Read the first installment of our exclusive interview with Kevin McCloud - Real grand designs
Read the second installment - Where Kevin's practised what he preaches.
Read the third installment - A British Taste for Grand Design
Kevin McCloud joins an array of celebrity and industry experts, as Grand Designs Live returns to London for the 7th consecutive year for 9 days, currently showing at ExCeL from Saturday 30th April – Sunday 8th May 2011. With over 500 exhibitors showcasing the widest range of high quality products and innovations, as well as offering free consultations, Grand Designs Live is the ultimate consumer home event, boasting everything needed to build and furnish a home – all under one roof. Get half price tickets by booking in advance - visit www.granddesignslive.com or call 0844 209 7349 and quote PRIME9.
Our exclusive Kevin McCloud interview:
related search results