A towering climate challenge for owners of skyscrapers
Many householders may be worrying about how to cut their carbon emissions, but new figures show that is a small problem compared to the one facing owners of Britain’s top skyscrapers.
Research this month has revealed that six of the UK’s highest buildings produce more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of about 3,000 cars.
But under an amendment to the Climate Change Act of 2008 the greenhouse gases from these tower blocks will have to be completely avoided or offset by planting trees or by using technology to extract CO2 from the atmosphere to comply with the country’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“That is a huge challenge for everyone,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park, “but particularly for skyscraper landlords.
“Although these building provide many benefits, such as an efficient use of space in a top location near good transport links and where thousands of people can live and work, there is also a down side.
“These towers emit thousands of carbon during construction because so much steel and cement is used and when built the occupants use large amounts of energy,” he added.
But the Government is clamping down on skyscrapers using huge amounts of carbon. From April last year it has become illegal for a commercial property to be let if it has an energy performance rating below E on a scale of A to G where G is the lowest,
The Shard in London is believed to emit the most CO2 at 4,780 tonnes a year, while also in the capital’s Tower 42, the former Natwest Tower built in 1980, used to be the least energy efficient building emitting 49 kg of CO2 per square metre.
But Ron added that there was some encouraging news with skyscraper owners taking steps to improve energy efficiency.
The Krish Group, which acquired Tower 42 seven years ago, has spent £10 billion renewing all 20 of its lifts, reducing its use of electricity by 82 per cent.
By replacing car parking spaces with cycle bays, improving waste management and revising its lighting the building uses only eight per cent of its previous electricity consumption.
One of London’s newest landmarks, the Cheesegrater tower, also known as the Leadenhall Building, has managed to cut its usage of electricity by 8 per cent, gas by 23 per cent and water by eight per cent.
However, Ron said there was much more work needed to be done to meet our climate commitments, such as looking at the way we design and operate large glass commercial buildings plus encouraging more landlords to switch to renewable energy.
“Householders must also play their part,” he added, “by moving to green energy such as solar panels for electricity, solar assisted heat pumps for their hot water and insulating their rooms with spray foam to cut heat loss and reduce their bills.”
For more information contact Ron on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk