21 December 2020: Details of a new project by the Mayor of London looking to drive energy efficiency retrofit in the commercial business sector. “The pilot will work with a Business Improvement District (BID) to recruit 15-20 businesses (including SMEs) with the aim of delivering an overall reduction in energy consumption of at least 30 per cent over 3 years across the participating businesses. The businesses themselves will commit to an upfront 10 per cent target for the pilot year, which we will ask them to update with a more ambitious 2024 target, that is appropriate for their buildings based on the findings of an energy assessment carried out as part of the pilot (expected to be in excess of 30 per cent energy savings). Pilot participants will receive free support from technical experts and high profile recognition for those that meet or exceed their targets.”
This is a much-needed project for London, as policies and programmes to promote energy efficiency in business/commercial buildings are all but absent from national government policy – especially since the closure by the then-Chancellor of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme (see here for details). It should be mentioned that BEIS have been considering an energy efficiency scheme for small and medium sized businesses for sometime (see here) – with an auction type mechanism currently being considered as the route forward.
Further information on Business Improvement Districts in London can be found here. Initial discussions are going ahead with the Better Bankside BID in Southwark.
15 December 2020: An interesting new initiative by the City of London who have issued planning guidance to developers on the impact of their developments on the immediate environment, which is particularly relevant to tall buildings which dominate the ‘square mile’. The press release sets out that the “‘Thermal Comfort Guidelines’ are believed to be the first of their kind globally, and will see data on wind, sunlight, temperature and humidity analysed on a seasonal level to predict how the microclimatic character of a place will feel to the public once a scheme is put in place. Tall and major building developers will be required to take account of the potential microclimate and thermal comfort impacts at an early stage in the design process.The analysis will allow for improvements to the quality of outdoor spaces within the Square Mile to better the health and wellbeing of residents, workers and visitors, as well as improving the experience of walking and cycling in the City.”
The guidance can be accessed here (direct download here). Some of the issues of tall buildings in London and their impact on the local environment have been highlighted over the past few years by Dr Julie Futcher and her ‘climate change walks’. More on Julie’s work here and here.
18 November 2020: Another recorded London Climate Action Week (LCAW) event that can be viewed online – this time held by think tank Future of London. ‘Net Zero is not Enough‘ “discussed the roles of green infrastructure and regenerative architecture, the importance of tackling both health inequalities and environmental inequalities, and how we can better involve local communities and collaborate across sectors.”
19 November 2020: “During London Climate Action Week, Associate Architect, Michela Ravaglia, outlines London’s response to the Climate Emergency and questions whether enough is being done to achieve the city’s ambitious 2030 net zero carbon target.” Really helpful summary of new policy, reports and initiatives underway in London (and there is a going on at the moment!) with respect to planning and the development of zero carbon buildings – see the following article.
April 2020: Think tank Future of London recently hosted a useful online seminar for their ‘Achieving Net Zero‘ project, involving public sector and built environment professionals looking at the challenges faced in decarbonising London’s building stock.
The session included speakers from the London boroughs of Camden, Lambeth and Hounslow providing updates on their climate emergency plans – as well as contributions from LandSec, Arup and Montagu Evans amongst others. The agenda for the meeting is available to download here – and the webinar has been posted in full online and can be seen here.
November 2016: Congratulations to student group Solar SOAS who successfully achieved their crowd funding goal earlier this year raising £22,000 for their PV project, which has now successfully installed 114 solar panels on the roof of their university building.
Funds were raised from SOAS itself, the students’ union and individual donors, and Solar SOAS co-founder Hannah Short said that crowdfunding the project provided “a rare opportunity for interested stakeholders to become part of a climate solution”.
Solar SOAS are having a ‘solabration’ tomorrow evening at the Brunei Gallery to formally launch the project – full details of which are posted here.
November 2016: The latest issue of the CIBSE Journal includes a case study on the significant design measures integrated into the new Tate Modern Switch House extension:
“The Tate wanted the environmental design of the Switch House extension to London’s Tate Modern gallery to be as cutting-edge as the art installations it showcases…Max Fordham’s scheme does not disappoint. It uses ground water pumped from river gravel below the site, desiccant dehumidification and even waste heat from electrical transformers to create the ideal environmental conditions for the Tate’s priceless works of art, while ensuring millions of visitors are comfortable.” Read the full case study here.
Tate Modern’s energy programme was supported by the London Energy Efficiency Fund – see earlier post here – and last year, a solar PV array was also added to the building.
15 August 2016: Following a comment piece in the Evening Standard last week, on how London is supporting the growth of decentralised energy, here’s my letter in response which was published in the paper today.
12 July 2016: The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Adaptation Sub Committee (ASC) published a major new study today providing a detailed scientific assessment of climate change risks to UK. Further information is provided in the following press release, a summary synthesis report, which also links to the individual six sector chapters – which includes a chapter on ‘People and the Built Environment‘ (which is examined below)..
Below is a summary of some of the points most relevant to London from the synthesis report:
- Urban water management: climate change is expected to lead to significant increases in heavy rainfall, with sewers in many urban areas already at or over capacity. More action is needed protect individual properties whilst also beginning to redesign urban landscapes (such as through the use of sustainable drainage approaches) to be able to cope with more intense patterns of rainfall. [p32]
- At present, there are no comprehensive policies in place to adapt existing homes and other buildings to high temperatures, manage urban heat islands, nor safeguard new homes. The level of risk from overheating across the UK is unknown for hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons, and places of work. [p33]
- The urban heat island effect. UK planning strategies do not currently make specific recommendations for reducing the heat island effect such as through planning and urban design, beyond promoting urban green space. [p34]
- More action needed to deliver sustainable drainage systems, upgrade sewers where appropriate, and tackle drivers of increasing surface runoff (e.g. impermeable surfacing in urban areas). [p61]
- Climate-related hazards damage historic structures and sites now, but there is a lack of information on the scale of current and future risks, including for historic urban green spaces and gardens as well as structures.[p66]
- The action underway in London to assess and manage risks of overheating on public transport should continue, together with similar action as needed elsewhere in the UK. [p66]
July 2016: Following a win by the RE:FIT scheme at the prestigious Ashden Awards last month, an interesting article in BusinessGreen asks whether the scheme will continue under the new Mayor:
“Mayor Khan has promised action on energy efficiency through building standards and his proposed Energy for Londoners not for profit company. But with the Mayor’s Office yet to choose an environment appointee and currently reviewing all ongoing programs, it was unable at time of writing to provide BusinessGreen with any details about future plans for the RE:FIT scheme.”
However, a recent MQ response from the Mayor seems to set the issue to rest for now with the Mayor not only stating that the programme will continue, but will need to be ramped up:
Do you intend to continue with the GLA’s RE:FIT and RE:NEW energy efficiency programmes? How effective do you understand the programmes have been?
I intend to continue with homes and buildings retrofit programmes. But to achieve my ambitious target of becoming a zero carbon city by 2050 we will need to rapidly increase the pace of retrofitting, so I am currently exploring what more can be done.
Much more can be seen on RE:FIT on the GLA website
June 2016: Positive to see the focus on energy and climate issues by a number of London Assembly members at the first question time of the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan. This month’s questions included the following issues:
the quantity of electricity supplied to TfL through the Mayor’s Licence Lite operation and few other questions on Licence Lite (here and here); supporting the growth of London community energy schemes; the London Energy Strategy; committing to London’s 25 per cent decentralised energy target; the 2020 nearly zero energy buildings target; the publication of the annual update to the GLA Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Strategy; London Energy Plan supporting studies; supporting the growth of district heating projects; support for London’s 2025 60 per cent carbon reduction target; the future of the RE:NEW and RE:FIT building retrofit programmes; the number of domestic energy efficiency retrofits supported by RE:NEW since January 2015; numbers on the GLA’s boiler scrappage list; ring fencing London’s Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; the number of zero carbon homes that could be built by 2020; zero carbon buildings planning requirements will come into force in 2019; how much money could be raised through the Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; interim targets to the Mayor’s manifesto commitment for London to be a zero carbon city by 2050; climate change and water vapour; how the Mayor will support London’s low carbon economy; emissions from river traffic (and another); zero emission cabs and PHVs abd if CO2 is a pollutant – and finally:
whether the Mayor understands “that further increases in carbon dioxide levels will not significantly increase average global temperatures due to near saturation absorption by CO2 in the 13 – 17 µm band of the infra-red spectrum”.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
Posted in Decentralised Energy, Energy Efficiency, News, Renewable Energy
Tagged Buildings, Carbon Emissions, Cities, Community Heating, Community Initiatives, Decentralised Energy, RE:FIT, RE:NEW, Transport
January 2016: CIBSE Journal case study on on how “Camden’s Agar Grove estate is to become the UK’s biggest residential Passivhaus project. Max Fordham’s Bertie Dixon describes the challenges of building an 18-storey tower to the standard, and explains why the council is committed to the low energy code
The redevelopment of the Agar Grove estate, in Camden, is not only expected to be the biggest residential Passivhaus development in the UK. It is also highly challenging for the designers involved.
As well as having an 18-storey Passivhaus residential tower on a tight inner-city site, the development is subject to environmental planning requirements that are not always compatible with Passivhaus principles. For example, heat networks might appear to be a prerequisite for large housing schemes in London, which means incorporating a network of heating pipes. The heat loss from the pipework introduces an increase in annual ‘primary energy demand’,I which is limited in the Passivhaus standard, so the project team had to work hard to come up with an ultra low-loss network design.” Read the full case study here.
Camden already has two other developments that meet the passivhaus standard – Loudoun Road and Alexandra Road,