Day 3 had a wonderfully lively panel in the main arena hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Peter Madden of Forum for the Future gave a great talk identifying 5 key emerging trends, and Neil Bennett of Farells discussed the possible benefits of Londoners reclaiming the Thames as a resource, which I plan on looking at in a more technical way in a later post. What was most interesting in this talk though were some of the panel comments on the need to make sure that companies are addressing the main issues surrounding thier carbon emissions rather than making superficial changes. Though I can’t recall the precise wording, Peter Madden very memorably pointed out that it wasn’t worth spending thousands of pounds and man hours redesigning a yoghurt pot to be super sustainable if the the yoghurt itself, and the processes that went into making it, were the main source of waste and pollution to begin with.
The final event that I attended was a very close case study of the new Crystal building, put together as Siemens HQ in Greenwich. While all the speakers on the panel shared excellent observations and ideas, I was fascinated by David Richards (Arup) discussion of the technical design considerations of the project. He presented a very comprehensive outline of how the cutting edge technology was chosen in accordance with the breif, but also proved that the technology was not just chosen for technologies sake. A key concept I took from his talk was the need to design a building that could be ‘kept current’. The photovoltaics, in particular, demonstrated this by being as modular as possible. This allowed them to be upgraded with minimal fuss to more effcient products as they came on the market. Proving this by walking the talk, this is something that they ALREADY DID as higher efficiency panels became available part way through the construction process, so they just returned the older ones and the building is currently using the newer model.
I did take their advice at the end of the conference and headed upstream to go see the building in the flesh (and glass). Unfortunately the exhibition was closed by the time I got there, but I took the cable car over the Thames to see the PV for myself, and I was struck by just how cool a building it is. Seriously, this thing wouldn’t look out of place on The Grid..
The other thing that reallys adds credibility to the project in my eyes is the statement during the panel that they are planning to not only perform very detailed post-occupancy monitoring/tuning on the building, but also that they are keen to make this study very transparent. The members of the design team stated that there is a reluctance in sustainable engineering to report failures, but that this was very counter -productive. In order to successfully develop the field, the issues of current designs need to be identified and solved. Failure to do so will lead to slower progress overall, and they veiwed this as unacceptable. I really couldn’t agree more.