I can HFC for miles

March 23, 2009   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Last week I was invited to discuss our design and procurement reports live on BBC Radio 4. They opened with questions about the most controversial issue: the use of HFC refrigerants in building air conditioning systems. HFCs are particularly potent Greenhouse Gases. 1 Tonne of HFC in the atmosphere is equivalent to 2,000 tonnes of CO2. Unlike most key environmental impacts, the ODA have never had a policy on this issue despite our recommendations that they should. This has come home to roost in the architecturally impressive aquatic centre. Although no decision has been made at the time of posting this article, the use of 1.5MW HFC chilling capacity is under consideration. The rationale being that significant extra costs are involved and offsetting the emissions would be much cheaper. Offsetting is appropriate only if there is no other option available, like flights for competitors. In this case an option is available and could have been considered earlier. Had the ODA developed a policy and incorporated non-HFC cooling earlier in the design phase I suspect much of this additional cost could be avoided. Even if additional costs are required, government needs to decide if they wish to use this as an …

Plastic bags, air quality and dog poo

March 4, 2009   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Dog statue

It is always a pleasure to meet Simon Birkett, he runs the Campaign for Clean Air in London with a mixture of passion, commitment and efficiency that is difficult to ignore. He is an incredibly effective communicator, his message is simple. Parts of London are in breach of EU air quality laws and this will continue unless something is done. He regaled me with a mind-boggling array of technical information about areas of poor air quality and information about public opinion. This included a sort of league table from Westminster Council detailing residents concerns. This placed air quality at the …