The home of the British Prime Minister is one of seventeen winners of this year’s BRE Environmental Assessment Method’s In-Use Award. The scheme is designed to promote sustainable buildings, and No. 10 Downing Street is just one of 800 properties which were part of this year’s assessment. The winning buildings were those which had made the most improvements year on year in terms of sustainability.
No. 10 is not only the site of David Cameron’s London residence, but is also an office complex housing 152 workers. BREEAM assessed the building over a period of one year, from March 2011 to March 2012, and found that thanks to a raft of new sustainable energy measures, it had reduced its electricity usage by 13.5% compared with the same period over the previous year.
Sustainable energy measures
The sustainable energy measures which have been introduced to the 300-year-old building include new boilers, low use water fittings, improved insulation and motion-detecting low energy lighting. There is also a system which takes heat generated by the IT equipment and uses it to heat water. Beneath the garden of no. 10 is a water tank, intended for use in times of drought. In an effort to promote transparency and develop awareness of energy usage, no. 10 also makes public its real time energy usage. The amount of electricity, water or heating which is being used in the building at any one time can be seen online at the CarbonCulture.net website. Also published on this website is no. 10’s energy rating which has risen from E to D in the last four years.
BREEAM is a leading international assessment method for sustainable buildings which has certified over 250,000 buildings equating to over 45 million square metres of floor area since it was launched in 1990. The In-Use scheme was created to highlight buildings which had made significant achievements with regards to sustainability. Other buildings which received the award this year were the Edge Lane Hospital in Liverpool and Newport magistrates court. The awards were presented at the Ecobuild 2013 show at London’s Docklands in February 2013, which hosted hundreds of exhibitors promoting sustainable technologies and attracted interest from over 60,000 visitors. (http://www.solarpanels.co.uk/blog/sustainable-housing-is-green-building-going-mainstream/)
Government is keen to promote renewable energy sources
The award is clearly good news for the Prime Minister and comes at a time when the UK government is keen to promote the take-up of renewable energy sources like solar panels, solar thermal and heat pumps. Homeowners can receive grants to help with the cost of installing solar heating and air source and ground source heat pumps, as well as biomass boilers, from the Renewable Heat Incentive’s Payment scheme. Homes with solar panels that produce electricity can make money from a Feed-in Tariff, which also allows homeowners to sell some of the electricity they produce back to their supplier.
The major scheme which the government is currently promoting is the Green Deal, whereby a loan is made available to cover the whole cost of renewable energy installation, which is then paid back via the building’s energy bills. The government hopes the scheme will encourage people to adopt green technologies and thereby reduce the nation’s carbon emissions as well as its dependence on fossil fuels.