Tag Archives: Buildings

SOAS becomes first community energy university

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.

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Environmental Design at the Tate Modern

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.

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Devolve more powers on energy to the Mayor

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.

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Future London Climate Risks Set Out

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]

Continue reading…

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The future of RE:FIT?

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:

Tony Devenish

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?

The Mayor

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

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

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 COin the 13 – 17 µm band of the infra-red spectrum”.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Camden Passivhaus Tower

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,

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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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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 & Climate Questions to the Mayor

December 2014:  This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

alternative energy for maritime facilities;  the Mayor’s Energy Advisor’s letter to the Treasury to support tax incentives to help community energy projects; the Belvedere Energy from Waste plant and the Viridor Energy Recovery plant in Beddington, Sutton; the Mayor’s Energy Advisor’s visit to Shanghai and Beijing; the Mayor’s support for minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector; Crossrail stations using decentralised energy; whether the Mayor supports the call for energy efficiency to be made a UK infrastructure priority; research commissioned by the GLA Environment Team this year costing more than £10,000; Islington Council’s recent success at the Energy Institute Awards; TfL officers responsible for examining the potential for solar energy; and again for the Metropolitan Police Service; TfL’s total electricity spend – and the the proportion of electricity it plans to source for low carbon generators in London; whether TfL has undertaken an assessment of solar PV potential across its estate; meetings the Mayor has had with the London Sustainable Development Commission; the amount of solar PV installed across the Met Police’s estate; and also TfL’s estate; a programme for deploying solar across the Met Police’s estate; the Mayor’s support for Cold Homes Week 2015; Excess Winter Mortality (EWM) statistics for London; the number of children in London living in fuel poverty; the number of Londoners living in fuel poverty; if the Mayor had worked with Public Health England on fuel poverty issues; how the Mayor will be helping London households in fuel poverty this winter; Mayoral support for anaerobic digestion facilities in London; the Mayor’s support to older Londoners in fuel poverty; decentralised energy support unit (DEPDU) work on the North London Heat and Power project; the number of RE:NEW households visited with children; RE:NEW programme progress reports; companies on the RE:NEW programme procurement framework and discussions with Brent Council on fracking.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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