Another building that has been getting quite a bit of publicity recently for all the wrong reasons is 7 More London. This new office for PriceWaterhouseCooper is the first building in the capital to be awarded a BREEAM Outstanding rating. Yet when you look at it, this conventional, air-conditioned, steel and glass monstrosity probably should not have even passed Part L of the Building Regulations. Its saviour is that elixir of apparent carbon goodness, biodiesel.
Now is it just me, or is there something fundamentally wrong about an environmental rating system that allows you to construct a building that is just as energy guzzling as all the rest, but then feed its hunger with a scarce and valuable renewable fuel source?
Biodiesel is hardly sustainable, you simply need to look into its impacts on land use and food production to understand that, but it will have a valuable role to play in maintaining essential freight transport in the future. Unless, that is, we consume it all in running un-necessary air-conditioning for poorly designed, inefficient buildings. Actually this is true of all renewable energy sources, we simply cannot generate sufficient to waste it on gratuitous consumption. Oh and by the way I’d love to know how the biodiesel is to be delivered to the building.
The impending energy crisis is likely to be so severe that we will need every drop of fuel available from what-ever source we can find, simply in order to maintain our quality of life. We certainly cannot afford to pretend to be environmentally responsible by rushing to exploit a new resource before anyone else gets there. That’s how we got into so much trouble over fossil fuels.