Name: Robin Roy
Organisation: The Open University
Role: Professor of Design and Environment
What first triggered your interest in environmental issues?
Interest in environmentalism from the first UN Environmental Conference held in Stockholm in 1972 and the 'Limits to Growth' debates of the 1970s.
What are you working on, concerned by, or motivated by at the moment?
Contributing to Open University environmental and design courses and conducting research on social and technical approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Attempting to reduce my own impacts on the environment through personal and household actions on housing, food, waste and transport.
What do you anticipate working on, or thinking about, in relation to environmental issues over the next 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
Low and zero carbon buildings and small-scale renewable energy technologies.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you as you look at where we might be in 2020, and why?
Pessimistic, but ever hopeful that creative technical and design solutions will help avoid the worst effects of climate change and other environmental problems.
Tell your story in your own words.
In 2009 we were having an extension built to our 1929 semi-detached house. This was an opportunity to upgrade the loft, wall and floor insulation and replace the old gas central heating boiler with a more efficient condensing boiler plus a solar water heating system. We are delighted with our new system .
I researched the various boiler and solar systems and chose a Worcester Bosch boiler for its reputation and A-rated efficiency and either Genersys or Worcester Bosch flat plate solar panels for cost effectiveness and durability. I then looked at the Solar Trade Association members’ list of solar installers and, after talking to several, chose one that installed both Worcester Bosch boilers and my chosen solar panels and was accredited under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme enabling me to claim a government grant. I eventually chose a Worcester Bosch boiler and solar system together with a 210 litre Newark twin coil solar hot water cylinder all of which could be fitted into a bedroom cupboard with an outside wall outlet for the boiler flue. The tank was equipped with an extra detector to measure the temperature at the top as well as at the bottom of the tank allowing us to know when we had sufficient hot water and so to leave the boiler off. The solar system provides us with hot water even on the coldest days with some sunshine or bright skies.
The cost of the total boiler and solar system including 7 new radiators and a Honeywell wireless room thermostat was around £7500 after the £400 government grant from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.
I am now considering installing solar PV now that the government has introduced a generous Feed In Tariff for domestic solar generated electricity.
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