The themes this week are mitigation and adaptation…how can we reduce emissions and how can we prepare for a changing climate?
1) Use less energy. 2) Decarbonise the energy grid (switch to renewables)
In UK we use about 2 kilowatts of power everyday. 11% of that is from renewables. Humanity needs to adapt to a future with more extreme weather events, higher global temperatures, higher sea levels and heat waves….how will we adapt?
Make no mistake it is important that we do. In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond blends contemporary societies with historical societies to compare how decisions made about resources and land use make the difference between survival and collapse. He uses comparative case studies such as the differences between the Dominican Republic and Haiti sharing the island of Hispaniola. Or why the Greenland Norse failed unlike the Orkney Norse or Inuit to survive in inhospitable environments. A failure to identify environmental problems before they become irreversible, such as the Easter Island inhabitants chopping down all their trees so they could erect the famous statutes (scaffolding, transport and rope), leaving themselves without fuel for cooking, heating, or cremation; shade and compost for crops; or canoes for trading with other islands, was eventually catastrophic for their survival.
In 2011 Montgomery Primary School was the first zero carbon building in UK to be built to Passivhaus energy efficiency guidelines. The school is highly energy efficient and also generates all of its energy requirements. The Technology Strategy Board (ukcip.org.uk) have a document about climate impacts and how buildings can be designed to keep cool + warm efficiently, how construction of buildings can incorporate resistance to extreme conditions and the management of water-namely conservation, drainage and flooding.
The next task for the course was to locate and take photos of a building near where we live that is designed to adapt to a changing climate. I was sat having a coffee in an independent cafe in Bury St Edmunds, and I googled sustainable buildings, Suffolk…my search returned…West Suffolk House (IP33 3YU) in Bury St Edmunds…it is the first building to be part of a ‘public service village’ in the area, otherwise known as council offices to most people…
Completed in January 2009 this building is rated as Band A for energy performance (top rating). The designers say it is climate adapted and has a number of features that helped it gain a BREEAM excellence rating for sustainability in 2009. I will list several but not all of the features here;
Exposed, reinforced concrete structure to provide high thermal mass for night cooling. Insulation and solar performance double glazing. Solar hot water heating. Solar PV panels. Ground source heat pump. Ventilation systems. Rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing. Cycle stands.
I want to have a proper look around it now! It was shut today as it’s Sunday.