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.  Global Real Estate sustainability Benchmark

The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) has announced the release of the 2014 GRESB results. Some highlights:

  • 637 listed property companies and private equity real estate funds submitted data, covering 56,000 buildings with an aggregate value of USD 2.1 trillion;
  • Collectively, in 2013, the commercial real estate sector reduced its energy consumption by  0.8 percent, carbon emissions fell by 0.3 percent, and water consumption fell by 2.3 percent;
  • 2.  Delivering nearly zero energy requirements

    EU Directive

    By 2020 new buildings in all EU member states must comply with ‘nearly-zero energy’ standards as defined in the Directive 2010/31/EU: space heating demand (15kWh/m2yr) and a maximum cooling demand (15kWh/m2yr). The remaining - of the so-called ‘nearly-zero energy’ - very low energy demand - should then be covered by energy from renewable sources, including energy produced on-site or nearby.

    UK Building Regulations and Carbon Reduction

    The aim of Allowable Solutions is to give developers an economical way of compensating for the CO2 emission reductions that are difficult to achieve through normal design and construction. However, there still remains uncertainty regarding implementation and eligibility.

    3.  Researchers discover new ways to harvest solar energy

    A transparent solar panel that can be placed directly over a window to harvest infrared solar energy has been developed at Michigan State University (MSU). Meanwhile physicists at Harvard University have proposed a device that would generate electric power by releasing infrared energy.

    4.  Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) and HOUSING STANDARDS REVIEW

    A package of measures that will save house builders and councils £114 million per year by cutting red tape while ensuring homes are still built to demanding standards, on wheelchair accessibility, security, and space, is published in draft, for comment, together with an accompanying consultation document. The Code for Sustainable Homes is being wound down and a number of its requirements have been absorbed by the new optional requirements.

    5.  €44 million available under first call for climate action projects

    The European Commission launched the first call for proposals under a new funding programme for projects dedicated to climate action. The LIFE Climate Action sub-programme, part of the EU LIFE Programme 2014-2020 will provide €864 million for climate action over the next seven years and provide €44.26 million in 2014 to develop and implement innovative ways to respond to the climate change challenge across Europe; closing date to apply is 16 October 2014.

    Faithful+Gould and Atkins: snapshot of our sustainable projects

    1.  Doha Metro, Qatar

    Red Line South and Gold Lines are aiming to be the first to achieve sustainability rating; both projects will be certified with GSAS 4* (Global Sustainability Assessment System by the Gulf Organization for Research and Development). The Gold Line crosses Doha from east to west and it includes 15km of twin tunnels and 13 underground stations.

    2.  Tidal Lagoon Swansea, UK

    The world's first tidal lagoon power plant – The project would see a 9.5km long sea wall built to capture enough renewable energy from incoming and outgoing tides to power over 120,000 homes for 120 years.

    3.  LEED-ing sustainability in Greece and Ireland

    The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) will be the first in Greece to achieve LEED Platinum Rating when it is completed in 2016. Also a new R+D centre for Analog Devices is currently being constructed to achieve LEED Gold. Some of the adopted strategies in delivering the sustainability agenda incorporate high standards in water efficiency – over 70% of water savings; energy performance - over 30% savings in energy costs; the SNFCC includes a 10,000m2 PV canopy which will provide energy cost savings of at least 13%. Other strategies include the use of local and ‘green’ materials, improved indoor air quality for the occupants, and over 90% diversion rate of construction waste from the landfill.

    4.  New Methodology for Sustainable Eco-Low Carbon (ELC) Urban Planning for China

    The methodology has been prepared with funding from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Prosperity Fund, and co-funded by China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development (MOHURD). Closely aligned with Atkins’ ‘Future Proofing Cities’ initiative, the methodology provides a clear, practical approach for ELC urban planning based on international best practice tailored for Chinese urban planners. The approach places strong emphasis on integration (technical, process and conceptual), understanding local context, human scale development in harmony with nature, strong place making, and partnering to finance ELC development through green credit initiatives.

    5.  JVC Towers, Jumeirah Village Circle, Dubai

    The project is comprised of two 60-storey cylindrical twin towers providing a void ratio of 50% on the tower mass so as to create cooler microclimate within the voids by implementing following the passive cooling strategies:

    • The voids improve air movement around the building envelope, enhancing the natural ventilation and reducing the cooling loads providing thermal comfort for 40% of the annual hours
    • Three shaded terraces on each floor planted with native vegetation. The vegetation is used as a device that controls solar radiation and prevents excessive surface heat gain. Vegetation and Water bodies mitigate the extreme hot-humid climate: the first reduces the temperature by evapotranspiration while the latter provides cooling by evaporation.