Tag Archives: Climate Adaptation

‘Living wall’ could reduce air pollution by a fifth

November 2016: “A pioneering “living wall” created at a Grade-I listed Mayfairdevelopment could reduce local air pollution by 20 per cent, it was claimed today. The 80sq m wall has been planted with grass, flowers and strawberries and installed on scaffolding at the St Mark’s building in North Audley Street. Developer Grosvenor and engineering firm Arup devised the wall, which they claim could help to cut harmful emissions and spruce up streets undergoing major construction projects.”

Full Evening Standard article here. See earlier post on GLA ‘Green Capital’ study here.

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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

July 2016: This month Mayor’s Question Time included the following:

an update on a GLA study to evaluate the potential for the use trackside solar power production; Post Brexit, how the Mayor will use his role in the Brexit negotiating team to preserve the hard-fought environmental protections; the number of decentralised energy projects that are projected to come online this year; how the Mayor can encourage Londoners to switch energy suppliers; an estimate of the number of connections that will be provided with heat from the Beddington energy from waste plant to the Sutton Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN) – and whether Barratt Homes has signed a heat agreement with the plant’s operator, Viridor; whether the Mayor will respond to the Government’s recently released Energy Company Obligation (ECO) consultation;
work to encourage energy efficiency improvements in the private rented sector (PRS);
the RE:NEW home energy efficiency retrofit programme’s strategy over the coming year; the number of jobs linked to the green economy in London; the Mayor’s role with C40 Cities, and borough surface water management plans

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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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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Urban adaptation to climate change

July 2016: A new European Environment Agency (EEA) study Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016 – Transforming cities in a changing climatehas just been published. The report  examines whether action on adaptation has led to more climate-resilient cities and if not, what needs to be changed.

The EEA has a few references to work undertaken in London such as:

  • “London is installing white panels on top of its public transport buses to reflect the rays of the summer sun and keep the vehicles cooler” (which refers to a 2014 article here). and that;
  • “London held a workshop on adaptation indicators in 2015 but as of November 2015 had not yet decided how it will take the work forward” (it is not immediately clear which workshops this comment refers to).

No mention is made in the study to London’s authoritative Climate Change Adaptation Strategy from 2011 or the London Plan’s climate change adaptation policies. (NB Mayor Boris Johnson had committed in February 2015 to produce an update to the adaptation strategy sometime in 2015. Following the non-publication of this update, responding to a question a year later, he committed to the update being produced before his departure as Mayor (May 2016) – however, as yet, no update has been released).

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New Ideas for London

April 2016: A further contribution of potential actions for an incoming Mayor – this time by Arup – in report just published ‘New Ideas in London‘. In the report Arup identify “five areas that the new Mayor should focus on during their first term in office.” Amongst these are a couple considering energy and climate issues – a summary of which follow below:

Driving down corporate carbon emissions

  • The Mayor has the authority to help adjust London’s procurement protocols to include corporate carbon performance.
  • The new Mayor could immediately commission a consultation led by the GLA’s Head of Legal and Procurement to investigate legislative options.

Electric bus battery switch scheme

  • Could London work with existing suppliers to design buses that allow their batteries to be switched out quickly and smoothly without disrupting operations? This could take place at optimum points on the network and could ensure that operations are not penalised by the time it takes to charge bus batteries.

Other areas of interest include ‘A London Blue Grid’ and ‘Walking in a Green London’.

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New London Housing SPG Published

April 2016: Somewhat hidden away on the GLA website (as most things are at the moment…) is a new supplementary planning guidance (SPG) on housing, published a few weeks ago. A detailed history on the lengthy consultation process behind this SPG and its relationship to the London Plan and other key GLA documents is helpfully set out at the designingbuildings wiki, which is worth checking.

The SPG includes a series of housing ‘Standards’ which stem from the policies contained in the London Plan’s Climate Change chapter, with the SPG providing further specific guidance on implementing these policies. Standard 35 is of particular importance, as it is concerned with the London’s Plan requirement for zero carbon development: this issue has had a long and complex history – with the SPG’s confirming that new housing development in London will need to be zero carbon from October 2016 is significant – which is covered in further detail in another post here.

The SPG also refers to action to mitigate ‘overheating’ in new homes in Standard 36 (linked to Policy 5.9 of the London Plan) stating that new “housing needs to be designed for the climate it will experience over its life, taking into account predicted climate change, the potential for summer heat waves, London’s urban heat island effect and the limits of thermal comfort of future residents”. 

The GLA’s Preparing Energy Assessments guidance document has also been expanded and updated in line with these changes in the Housing SPG (with a new section 5 entitled ‘Implementation of zero carbon homes (from 1 October 2016)’ added) and is available to download here (or download from this website here).

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Green Capital

March 2016: Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 16.01.03“London’s businesses can play an important role in greening the city, making it a more attractive and healthy place. To help businesses to green the city, we’ve supported 15 ‘green infrastructure audits’. These identify where greening projects, like green roofs, green walls, and planters, could be put in place. We are also supporting businesses to install these greening projects”

Read the GLA case study guide, Green Capital, here and watch the video here.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 16.09.01

The Mayor’s Green Infrastructure Task Force report, published in December 2015, can be read here. Further information on Greening London can be seen here on the GLA website alongside London’s Green Roof Map.

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Adaptation responses to climate change differ between global megacities

March 2016: “The major cities in the Global North are protecting themselves against the risks of climate change, while cities in developing countries continue to suffer from massive under-investment. A study on ten cities, led by Lucien Georgeson of University College London, found that financing for climate change adaptation had increased across the board by 3% to 4% per year in recent years.” Read the full article Euroactiv article

“Without significant action against climate change, much of central London may be under water by 2050.”

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UK’s most sustainable historic building in London’s West End

22 October 2015: The Guardian reports: “Hailed as the UK’s most sustainable historic building, the Regent Street office scheme, 7 Air Street, comes with an ecological roof incorporating flowers, vegetation, grasses and habitats for insects, birds and bats.  The building has received BREEAM outstanding rating, the highest award possible from the industry body which judges best practice for sustainability in the built environment.

“It features solar panels, low energy air conditioning, LED lighting and a unique central energy centre, powered by fuel cell technology, which saves around 350 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, while providing power to 500,000 sq ft of commercial and residential accommodation on Regent Street, including the Cafe Royal Hotel and the 20 Air Street office building.

A previous post provides some additional details behind the fuel cell technology used.

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Resilience to climate change: who pays (and who benefits)?

October 2015: A Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and Royal Geographical Society event taking place on the evening of 17 November 2015 exploring community resilience and adaptation to climate change. Chairing the event will be Alex Nickson, Strategy Manager, Climate Change Adaptation, Greater London Authority (and lead on the Mayor’s London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy). Full details on how to register are posted here.

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Thames tidal flood defence inspection under way

27 May 2015: ENDS journal reports that “The Environment Agency (EA) has started detailed engineering and structural investigations into the condition of tidal flood defences in London and the Thames estuary.” The work is being carried out as part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) ten-year Thames Estuary Asset Management programme to refurbish and replace tidal flood defences in London and the Thames estuary (more info on TEAM2100 here), and the agency recently awarded the 10-year refurbishment deal to Balfour Beatty to run the project which is worth £250 million.

A great piece in The Guardian earlier this year on the Thames Barrier asks how safe is London from another major flood?

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

January 2015:  This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Fuel Povery and Children; Meetings of the Mayor’s London Green Infrastructure Task Force;  Membership of the Mayor’s London Green Infrastructure Task Force;  London Plan policies encouraging development of solar farms;  consideration of carbon emissions in policy decision making
Invitation to attend the European Capital Cities meeting ahead of the Paris 2015 IPCC summit; Progress made in 2014 to delivering the London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; Measuring CO2 emissions across the GLA Group; An update on the GLA group’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) reports; the Mayor’s concern over increasing signs of climate change; GLA Economics analysis on energy
Communication to the Treasury over tax incentives for community energy projects; TfL’s hedging policy on energy prices; Misleading information on shale gas; Reallocation of RE:NEW funds to RE:FIT programme; Havering Solar Farm planning application; New powers to Ofgem; RE:NEW programme underspend; An update on RE:NEW programme projectionsResearch commissioned by the GLA’s Environment Team
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