Book News: April 9th, 2009

By Matthew Lockwood and Reg Platt.

The Green Streets project, which was set up by British Gas as a social experiment in energy and carbon savings, resulted in gas demand on all households falling by almost 25 per cent. If all UK households were to see a similar fall, this would cut total demand for gas by over 8 per cent, representing about a third of current gas imports.

The project, which was carried out by the Institute of Public Policy Research, involved 64 households, eight each from a “Green”-themed street in eight cities. They were chosen to take part in a year-long challenge to reduce energy use and emissions by as much as possible.

All streets saw a significant reduction in their average energy use during the course of the project. The street average ranged from under 15 per cent in London to almost 35 per cent in Leeds, although most streets were in the range 22-27%. Average carbon emissions from domestic energy for Green Streets households were 6.14 tonnes of carbon dioxide, just above the national average of 6 tonnes per household.

If the average energy savings from Green Streets were replicated across all UK households, the saving on fuel bills would be around 6 billion pounds. If all UK households achieved similar carbon emissions reductions to the Green Streets households, emissions would be reduced by 35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year at a national level. This is roughly equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 3-4 modern coal-fired power stations.

Following the success of energy savings measures, the report recommends that smart metering should be rolled out as soon as possible, because smart meters have a significant impact on awareness of energy use and they stimulate energy saving. Other recommendations include the Government encouraging innovation in the development of different ‘inhome’ displays and the scaling-up the provision of face-to-face energy saving advice in the home. Possible routes for providing advice should also be explored including commercially based energy services companies, the Suppliers Obligation, local authorities and possibly a dedicated agency.

Green Streets is available from ippr.