Sustainability - 10 Green Highlights

Marietta Chatzinota
Our industry experts present the next edition of 10 green highlights below, summarising a few of the current issues and up and coming events in the sector.

1. July 2015 the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

According to data from the Met Office, on the 1st of July 2015 temperature near London reached 36.7oC, with several other countries also experiencing record heat waves. These record temperatures are attributed by scientists to the impact of both climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report that they anticipate 2015 to be the hottest year on record.

2. Project Sunroof: Google tool can estimate domestic energy cost savings from solar power

Developed by Google engineer Carl Elkin, this tool uses the same aerial imagery data as Google Earth to estimate the maximum unshaded roof area for the installation of solar panels. Then using local weather patterns, it provides an estimate of the cost savings from solar generated electricity. The tool’s pilot form is currently available for residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno and Boston.

3. The end of Feed in Tariffs (FITs)?

UK Government proposes to cut small scale solar installation subsidies from the 1st of January 2016. In an attempt to drive down household energy bills, the UK Government is proposing a reduction of circa 87% in the existing FITs for small and larger scale solar installations.

Industry executives are worried that the impact on investment in solar energy, the UK’s second cheapest energy source after wind, will be significant, whilst the achieved government’s claimed savings on annual household electricity bills will be minimal (about 50p/household).

The Health & Wellbeing Agenda

4. World & UK Green Building Council: Project on health, wellbeing and productivity in retail

Following the publication of the report on the business case for health, wellbeing and productivity in offices last September, the World GBC has launched a new project focusing on the benefits for the retail sector.

As part of the project, a Retail Task Group (established by the UK-GBC) will look to develop and test metrics for health and wellbeing in the retail environment.

5. Human Spaces: Global research into Biophilic Design

Human spaces’ research reveals a connection between natural elements in the design of the built environment (e.g. daylight and greenery) and increased productivity (6%), creativity (15%) and overall wellbeing (15%) of office workers across the globe.

6. Interface uses reclaimed fishing nets to produce 100% recycled content carpet

Interface, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and other core partners have created Net-Works, a business model which aims for long term positive impacts on marine and freshwater ecosystems, while also providing financial opportunities to some of the poorest people in the world. The process involves gathering used fishing nets and processing them into 100% recycled nylon yarn, which is then turned into carpet.

7. ‘Walkie Talkie’ voted worst building of the year in BD’s awards

20 Fenchurch Street, more commonly known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’, was awarded this year’s Carbuncle Cup in a unanimous vote by the judges. From complaints around high winds at the building’s base to a costly retrofit of the façade to diffuse the sun’s rays and avoid damage to nearby parked cars, the Walkie Talkie has been subject to widespread criticism, leading to the question: Should buildings with irreversible design mistakes be demolished?

8. Solar Windows: Peek into the future of solar generation?

SolarWindow™ have developed a new technology which uses ultra-thin layers of liquid coatings, applied onto glazing and flexible plastics, to generate electricity. The technology’s advantages lie in that the coating does not impact on glazing transparency and hence view, and that electricity can be generated through natural, artificial and even shaded light.

The manufacturer claims a 1-yr payback and a 50 times better performance in relation to conventional opaque solar panels. 

9. The embodied carbon of wasted food: One third of food produced is never eaten

Despite producing food sufficient to feed 10 billion people, 2 billion people suffer from malnutrition. The energy consumed to produce food wasted during harvest, distribution and consumption accounts for 3.3 billion tons CO2, more than twice the emissions of all cars and trucks in the United States.

10. Developing BRE’s Home Quality Mark: Findings during consultation with Industry and the Public

The consolation on BRE’s new national rating scheme, Home Quality Mark (HMQ) has been completed and the scheme is to be launched in October. Findings during the consultation period include:

  • Out of 500 consumers, 54% would buy or rent a sustainable property that had sustainability stamp of approval, with 1 in 5 saying they were even prepared to pay a higher price.
  • Build quality, noise and storage space are being among the most influential factors when buying a new home.