energy for london’s library provides details of the latest reports and research relevant to helping deliver sustainable energy projects.

District heating as heterotopia

27 January 2016: “District heating as heterotopia: Tracing the social contract through domestic energy infrastructure in Pimlico, London” – new research paper published in the latest issue of the journal Economic Anthropology (PDF here). A presentation on the paper can be seen here.

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Citizens Advice District Heating research

20 January 2016: Citizens Advice research just published District Heating Networks: analysis of information request which found:
“There are an estimated 2,000 heat networks in the UK and with district heating schemes having been identified as one of the key technologies to decarbonise the heat we use in our homes and businesses this is set to increase.
At present there is very little available data on these existing district heating schemes making it difficult to assess how well they work in practice or whether they offer good value for their customers. There are many unanswered questions when it comes to the use of district heating for residential properties and without a central database of publicly accessible information questions about its applicability and affordability will remain.
Through the process of conducting this information request Citizens Advice has found the availability of information patchy at best and the fact that Local Authorities, through no fault of their own, don’t have sight of these systems is concerning.”

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TfL CO2 emissions increase

November 2015: Transport for London latest ‘Health, Safety and Environment’ report has been recently posted online – available to download here (direct link here).

An important issue in relation to carbon emissions raised in the report, is London Underground’s reliance on grid supplied electricity:

“For electricity, we calculate the total CO2 emissions generated by multiplying the amount of energy we use by the Government’s annual emissions factor. This measures how much CO2 was emitted during the energy generation process, for example by power stations. It depends directly on the grid mix, eg the amount and type of fuel (coal or renewable energy) that was used to generate the national grid electricity in that year. Figure 9 shows that there was a 10 per cent rise in the carbon intensity of the grid mix in 2014/15. This means that our electricity-based CO2 emissions results are indicating a similar level of increase. To show the underlying trend of the change in energy use, rather than the change affected by the energy source, over which we largely have no control, we are for the first time also reporting our total energy consumption figures as kilowatt hours.”

No mention is made in the report of TfL’s activities to increase the amount of renewable electricity it generates or – curiously – efforts being made by GLA to help source local, decentralised electricity supplies for TfL through their Licence Lite programme.

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London benchmarks for cooling demand in new residential developments

October 2015: The Mayor’s has published a set of “good practice cooling energy demand benchmarks for typical apartment dwelling types, based on reasonable design measures”.

The work was undertaken by AECOM for the GLA and supports the London Plan’s cooling hierarchy as set out in Policy 5.9 of  Chapter 5 of the London Plan (London’s Response to Climate Change) which states the following [page 200 onwards]:

Major development proposals should reduce potential overheating and reliance on air conditioning systems and demonstrate this in accordance with the following cooling hierarchy:

  1. minimise internal heat generation through energy efficient design
  2. reduce the amount of heat entering a building in summer through orientation, shading, albedo, fenestration, insulation and green roofs and walls
  3. manage the heat within the building through exposed internal thermal mass and high ceilings
  4. passive ventilation
  5. mechanical ventilation
  6. active cooling systems (ensuring they are the lowest carbon options).

Two case studies where overheating in London developments has been identified are referenced in the study, including the Seagar Distillery redevelopment in Lewisham, as well as a paper, Forecasting future cooling demand in London, which estimates that the London residential sector could be responsible for an extra 100,000 tonnes CO2 per year by 2030 as a result of cooling.

A number of conclusions and recommendations are made in the study (p60 onwards) including:

  • GLA could produce a checklist for developers to complete with information about glazing ratios, shading methods, ventilation options etc. to help determine whether the development is likely to have overheating problems that should be investigated further. It could be used to identify when detailed modelling is required and could help monitor typical responses to the cooling hierarchy.
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London Heat Supply Workshop Presentations

October 2015: The GLA held a London Energy Plan: Heat Supply workshop on the 25th of September – the slides for which have just become available and can be downloaded here.  The workshop included presentations from the GLA on their forthcoming Energy Masterplan for London; from Camden Council on their decentralised energy plans; and from consultancy Element Energy on the work they are undertaking for the GLA through the development of a heat plan model.

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The Role of Energy Efficient Buildings

15 October 2015:  New study by those excellent boffins at Ecofys for European insulation trade body Eurima which highlights that “Beyond the main benefits of energy efficiency, such as reduced energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency in buildings also has the potential to reduce costs and increase efficiency on the supply side.

Why would that be the case? It’s due to the amount of heating that is anticipated to shift from gas to electricity (boilers to heat pumps) over the coming decades:

Continue reading…

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Zero Emission Buses

December 2014: The Institute for Sustainability, in collaboration with Transport for London (TfL), has launched a review report that outlines how to calculate the economic and operational feasibility of delivering London’s plan for zero emission buses, helping improve air quality in the city. Full details and report available here.

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A Global Survey of Building Energy Efficiency Policies in Cities

December 2014: A pretty major study undertaken for the C40 Cities network – ‘Urban Efficiency: A Global Survey of Building Energy EfficiencyPolicies in Cities’ – which was sponsored by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The report is available to download here.

The report’s objectives in terms of building energy efficiency programmes were to:

  • capture the range of different policies being implemented in cities around the world;
  • obtain detailed information on the necessary conditions, opportunities and potential challenges when introducing and implementing such initiatives; and
  • analyse what approaches have been successful in which context and why.

The policies it highlights as being most commonly implemented across cities across the world include:

  • Building Energy Codes
  • Reporting and benchmarking of energy performance data
  • Mandatory auditing and retro-commissioning
  • Emissions trading schemes
  • Green building rating and energy performance labelling
  • Financial incentives
  • Non-financial incentives
  • Awareness raising programmes
  • Promoting green leases
  • Voluntary leadership programmes
  • Government leadership

A chapter – ‘Experiences from Frontrunner Cities’ – presents detailed case studies from “ten pioneering C40 cities implementing various kinds of programmes to drive energy efficiency and sustainability in existing commercial and residential buildings” – but doesn’t unfortunately include experiences from London. London is however included in a ‘policy map’ survey for new and existing buildings (pages 19-21).

Page 34 mentions “Almost all cities have shown a willingness to lead by example. In London, all new buildings for the Greater London Authority are required to meet the London Development Agency’s Sustainable Design and Construction Standards or exceed targets in the London Plan.” Some information on the application of the LDA’s SDC Standards can be seen from a MQ from earlier this year here.

Elsewhere in the report, London’s Better Building Partnership initiative is referenced. Pages 40 and 41 also provide a useful list of weblinks to London documents on energy efficiency initiatives.

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A field study of urban microclimates in London

December 2014: Open access paper published in the January 2015 issue of Renewable Energy.

“This paper aims to address the characteristics of urban microclimates that affect the building energy performance and implementation of the renewable energy technologies. An experimental campaign was designed to investigate the microclimate parameters including air and surface temperature, direct and diffuse solar irradiation levels on both horizontal and vertical surfaces, wind speed and direction in a dense urban area in London. The outcomes of this research reveal that the climatic parameters are significantly influenced by the attributes of urban textures, which highlight the need for both providing the microclimatic information and using them in buildings design stages. This research provides a valuable set of microclimatic information for a dense urban area in London. According to the outcomes of this research, the feasibility study for implementation of renewable energy technologies and the thermal/energy performance assessment of buildings need to be conducted using the microclimatic information rather than the meteorological weather data mostly collected from non-urban environments.”

Available to download here.

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Microclimatic effects of green and cool roofs in London

December 2014: Paper presented in the latest issue of academic journal Energy in Buildings –  Microclimatic effects of green and cool roofs in London and their impacts on energy use for a typical office building – which presents the results from a modelling study that assessed the effectiveness of retrofitted green and cool roofs at reducing energy use for a typical office in Central London. These technologies were compared to application of retrofitting traditional insulation.

The building modelling results indicate that in the current climate, green roofs reduce annual energy use within the building. The level of savings are reduced when green roofs are dry in the summer. Cool roofs are more effective in the summer, but result in an annual energy penalty due to their performance in winter. In a 2050 climate scenario, both green and cool roofs result in a reduction in annual energy use. The application of traditional insulation is the most effective technology at reducing annual energy use. Adding insulation and a green or cool roof reduces the relative effectiveness of the roofs.

Unfortunately – the paper is not available for free..

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Energy exchange in a dense urban environment

December 2014: Two papers from the December issue of academic journal Urban Climatepresented at  ICUC8: The 8th International Conference on Urban Climate and the 10th Symposium on the Urban Environment both publicly available.

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Contribution of wood burning to PM10 in London

14 December 2014: Sunday Times article covering how ‘Wood-fired stoves fuel city pollution‘. The author points to evidence supporting the article’s findings in an academic paper (fully available) published earlier this year in the journal ‘Atmospheric Environment‘ ‘Contribution of wood burning to PM10 in London‘:

“Air pollution from domestic wood burning has long been recognised as an important contributor to poor ambient air quality in Scandinavian and alpine regions of Europe where wood burning is routinely used for residential space heating. However, recent evidence is suggesting that biomass burning might be more widespread…The current study sought to determine the existing contribution of wood burning to PM10 in London so that the impacts of increased biomass burning can be quantified in the future.


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