Meeting London’s carbon reduction targets

Sunday 16 December 2012

Londoners need to get to grips with using their buildings more efficiently if we are to meet tough carbon reduction targets as laid down in the London Plan.

That was one of the main findings at a special half-day conference on the issue at the NLA, held on 9 December. 

The conference heard that simple, commonsense measures employed by commercial building occupiers – such as turning computers off at night, using LED lighting and attending to temperature controls – could make a significant contribution. 

The new London Plan has confirmed tough carbon reduction targets for the built environment, as the Mayor looks to achieve a 60 per cent reduction on carbon dioxide levels by 2025 and meet his vision for London as a ‘world leader’ in tackling climate change, reducing pollution, developing a low carbon economy, and making better use of resources.  From 2016, all new residential buildings will be expected to meet zero carbon standards, with all non-domestic buildings following from 2019, while London’s existing building stock will also require significant adaptation and renewal. The development of decentralised energy systems and energy generated from waste, will also be key to decarbonising London’s energy supply. 

David Collier, Energy and Sustainability Manager at Broadgate Estates, manages properties across 23 sites, many in London, with close to a £30m annual bill on energy.  ‘It’s far more difficult to retrofit solutions to existing buildings, but one thing we can all do is improve our demand management, especially during peak periods of demand on the national grid’, he said. ‘The general consensus is that energy prices are going to up, so reduce your consumption and you will reduce your exposure to that volatility.’ Collier added that there is also growing evidence to support the correlation between better energy management and staff wellbeing. Anecdotally ‘it certainly provides a nicer, more predictable working environment’. 

We can halve the demand ‘by using things less’, double the efficiency of what’s left, and halve the emissions in the energy supply, said Collier. Techniques such as voltage optimisation, energy efficient lighting, such as LEDs to reduce cooling load, using software to regulate out of hours energy consumption and server virtualisation are effective tools in the battle to hit the targets. Common sense disciplines like turning computers off at night and reconsidering running water chillers all day long are also useful measures, along with many more to be found on the Carbon Trust website ‘Reducing your demand should always come first’. 

Sunil Shah, Head of Sustainability at DPP agreed, saying: ‘While you can have a low carbon building that’s being delivered, one thing that is recognised is the performance gap between an as-built design and an operational building, two years in; it is significantly different. Those measures are up to 250 per cent difference. So you have a massive gap in place, accounted for largely in behavioural issues.’ 

Celeste Giusti, senior strategic planner at the GLA, said the LDA, now within the GLA, has secured £2.5m of funding from the EU to deliver a decentralised energy programme for London by 2025.  Because of the Mayor’s policies London has seen a four per cent increase in ‘green jobs’, said Giusti, which had helped to bring in over £23bn to the London economy. Other schemes are also bearing fruit. The Re:Fit programme’s main aim is to retrofit 40 per cent of public sector buildings across London – already, savings of £1m a year have been achieved in energy bills from 42 buildings the GLA either owns or occupies. The RE:NEW scheme aims to retrofit 1.2m homes across London by 2015, with 11,000 already completed and a 55,000 target by March 2015. 

David Taylor, editor, New London Quarterly

The event was sponsored by SITA UK

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