Thursday, 17 December 2015

Keynote Lecture: City Energy - Solarsense and Max Fordham

On the 16 November the Architecture Centre held a keynote lecture to support the launch of its most recent City Ideas Studio residency: Energy. With contributions from renewables consultants, Solarsense, and engineers specialising in sustainability, Max Fordham, the talk addressed the subject of renewables and how Bristol might increase investment in solar across the city.

First to talk was David Snape from Solarsense. He gave an overview of the history of the company and offered examples of the broad range of solar installations they’ve completed over the years. A particular example, which is featured in the City Ideas Studio: Energy exhibition, is a solar power installation fitted on to the roof the science centre, At-Bristol, which was completed in just four weeks. He explained how solar technology has gradually become a more viable option, for both businesses and home owners, for reasons relating to innovations in the technology used, which makes it both cheaper and more efficient.

Next up was Richard Lowe, Investment Programme Manager at Bristol City Council. He outlined the aims and achievements so far of some of their current programmes. These include ‘Warm Up Bristol’, a scheme designed to ensure that Bristol’s homes are as energy efficient as they can be, by  maximising the performance of the building fabric itself. He also spoke about the Heat Network that the council is developing in the city. A network of underground pipes supply heat to a number of buildings from a local energy centre, which ultimately provide more efficient and lower-cost heat to the surrounding area.

The third speaker was David Saunders from Bristol Energy Network. He spoke about the role of the community in shaping and developing sustainable resources. The Bristol Energy Network has recently launched Energy Champions, which aims to offer every person in Bristol someone to turn to for energy advice and who will champion energy saving in the local community.

The final talk was from the keynote speaker Hareth Pochee, physicist and engineer at Max Fordham. He explained that a significant percentage of the total of the United Kingdom’s energy demand and CO2 emissions comes from heating buildings. He outlined the technical, economic and social details of government proposals to reduce this percentage which include CHP (combined heat and power), district heating, heat pumps and insulation and presented a number of alternatives to these proposals. These included hydrogen infrastructure and radical retrofit. In both instances deep energy saving methods are incorporated with other architectural design features to yield additional benefits. Keynsham Civic Centre, a case study featured in the current City Ideas Studio exhibition, offers an example of where these measures have had an immensely positive effect on the building's energy performance and the surrounding area. Haresh ended by outlining the huge potential for these measures to drastically reduce the energy demands of the UK’s buildings, as well as drastically change the appearance of our streets.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening – a great way to kickstart the City Ideas Studio: Energy exhibition.

A video of the evenings talks will be available to view on the Architecture Centre’s website in the new year.

The City Ideas Studio: Energy residency is on until 24 January, open 11-5 Wednesday-Friday and 12-5 Saturday-Sunday. Please note the Architecture Centre gallery is closed for the festive period from 21 December, reopening on Wed 6 January 2016.

Visit our website to find out more about events happening soon.

Images courtesy Angelica Catton

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