Sustainability - 10 Green Highlights

Eirini Matsouki
With sustainability and green initiatives an increasingly important part of the government's and business agenda we have prepared our next edition of 10 green highlights below to summarise a few of the current issues and up and coming events.

1. Embodied Carbon Week 2014: Reports and Outcomes

UK-GBC published key findings based on feedback gained from the series of events that took place during April 2014 in the report: ‘Embodied Carbon Week – Seeing the whole picture’. Fifteen key message themes have been identified, including measurement method, closing the loop and open data bases (publicly accessible).

2. WRAP and the UK Green Building Council launch database to capture embodied carbon data for whole buildings

The aim was to create an open, web-based resource for building professionals to help guide and inform future designs and specifications. The public database provides access to a large database of buildings, allowing project teams to gain an understanding and compare typical embodied carbon footprints of different building types.

3. RICS whole life carbon global guidance note launched

RICS have just launched the ‘Methodology to calculate embodied carbon’ global guidance note developed by Faithful+Gould’s Sean Lockie and Piotr Berebecki. The publication provides practical information for industry professionals on how to calculate lifecycle embodied carbon emissions associated with their projects. The guidance also presents an opportunity for the quantity surveyor to offer embodied carbon advice as part of cost planning services.

4. UK rooftops to become power stations

Solar roofs projects will turn buildings and brownfield sites into power stations by installing solar PV. The Solar Strategy, the first of its kind in the UK, sets out the Government’s ambition to see solar rolled out more widely. The strategy will turn the Government estates as well as factories, supermarkets and car parks into "solar hubs".

5. Five year energy time bomb threatens the UK

In its report 'Global Resource Observatory - Country Resource Maps' (PDF, 2.2MB), the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) warns that a number of countries in Europe, including France, Italy and the UK face critical shortages of natural resources. The maps show that France and Italy have approximately 1 year's worth of their own reserves of oil, gas and coal. The UK fares only slightly better, with 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and 3 years of gas remaining.

6. National Grid will pay companies to switch off

The plan has two components: the 'Demand Side Balancing' to be piloted this winter, and the 'Supplemental Balancing' to be introduced next year. The ‘Demand Side’ will pay energy intensive business to reduce their use during peak times, 4pm to 8pm on winter weekdays, to help National Grid to match demand for power with supply. The ‘Supplemental Reserve’ is a measure intended to keep power plants open that would be otherwise mothballed because of a lack of demand. The voluntary scheme aims to avoid the need to build additional power stations.

7. Heathrow on track to meet 2020 sustainability goals

The airport's long-term sustainability goals are set out in the ‘Responsible Heathrow 2020 plan’, which includes a 34% reduction in CO2 emissions from energy used in buildings and 70% of operational waste being recycled. Faithful+Gould and our parent company Atkins have been providing services supporting Heathrow’s £750m asset renewal including engineering, sustainability and whole life consulting.

8. BREEAM New Construction 2014 scheme launched

The update released on 27th May 2014 follows the most extensive consultation ever carried out for the BREEAM sustainable design and construction rating scheme. Registrations from 1st July 2014 will adopt the new version.

9. Which is greener, paper or plastic? The answer is not as clear as you think...

Many of us instinctively assume that paper is better than plastic, but this is not necessarily true...the worthy goal of reducing plastic litter may come at the expense of increasing societal energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions because paper bags can have higher production and transportation footprints. Reusable bags made of durable plastics are better in many respects than cotton reusable bags due to the enormous environmental footprint of cotton production and its requirements for water, energy and fertilizers.

10. Residential towers in Milan will have 900 trees and 5,000 shrubs growing up to 110m in the air

A high rise residential development being constructed in Milan, one of Europe’s most polluted cities will create a vertical forest in the heart of the Italian city. The floors of vegetation will add oxygen and humidity to the atmosphere, while the plants are intended to absorb CO2 and dust particles to further improve the environment. The towers will also incorporate a photovoltaic energy system to reduce electrical demand.