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Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon: letter
This was sent today to the District Council Leader, all District Councillors, the CEO and Deputy CEO:
Dear Chief Executive
Dear Deputy CEO,
It struck many that the
pictogram published to illustrate the EDDC’s “Office Accommodation Knowle
Energy Use and Maintenance Cost Analysis Report” from Davis Langton did not
reflect the environmental impact of constructing a new building.
Much is made in this
report of the energy efficiencies gained from moving into a leaner set of
offices, which would ‘fit the purpose’ of a modern council.
But what is missing is
an understanding that to build a completely new headquarters for EDDC would be
and accelerated demolition would neither help with meeting energy and climate
change targets, nor would it address social needs. Refurbishment offers clear
advantages in time, cost, community impact, prevention of building sprawl,
reuse of existing infrastructure and protection of existing communities.”
Moreover, it is clear
that any new-build on this scale will produce thousands of tonnes of carbon
now, focus has been almost entirely on the carbon emissions resulting from
using homes, but clearly the balance between those operational carbon emissions
and emissions from producing and installing the materials – the embodied
carbon – needs to be considered.”
I have attempted to make
a very rough calculation of how much CO2 would be produced should
EDDC commission a new-build based on 3,352m2. However, as EDDC will
not reveal detailed information on the grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’,
I have simply taken an average from the on-line software available at: http://eco2.phlorum.com/calculator/save
The attached pictogram
attempts to show this in diagram form.
‘number-crunching’ is not so much the point. Rather, it is the principle that
new-build creates between 3 and 10 times more carbon emissions than renovation.
Innumerable studies not only prove this but support the common-sense notion
that throwing literally tonnes of new resources at a building project will
produce much more CO2 than intelligent retrofitting.
EDDC will be making a
formal decision on its relocation project at Cabinet and in full Council.
I would urge you,
therefore, to consider the cheaper option of simply selling off the former
Victorian hotel for housing (valued by local estate agents at between £3m and
£4m) and making use of the funds for much-needed upgrading of facilities in the
1970s block – thereby bringing the EDDC HQ up to scratch.
It is now clear that this
option would be cheaper in terms both of overall carbon emissions and of actual
I would urge you, again
to consider these alternatives in your deliberations these coming days.