Knowle Relocation Project: and greenwashing

Retrofitting the old HQ would have been ‘more sustainable’ and ‘better for the environment’.

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The District Council has just produced a glowing report: read it as you will:

East Devon’s new modern HQ is cheaper to run and better for the environment | eastdevon.gov.uk

District council says new HQ is much ‘more sustainable’ than former Sidmouth offices | sidmouth.nub.news

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But the discussion on Sidmouth Community Facebook is a lot more sanguine:

“Financially, environmentally and operationally the council has made the right move.” Do you agree?

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This report from 2018 questioned the whole approach of the District Council:

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL’S “RELOCATION PROJECT” – STATEMENT OF OBJECTION – 16 July 2018

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Here the issues are considered one by one:

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PART ONE: WHICH IS GREENER: OLD OR NEW?

Of course, if you buy a brand new low-emission car… it’s going to be low-emission. But what about the huge amount of emissions and resources needed to produce the nice new shiny product? Let alone the cost of disposing the old product?

How much CO2 is embedded in a product? | rmi.org

What’s the carbon footprint of … a new car? | theguardian.com

It is time to get serious about the hidden carbon cost in everyday products | treehugger.com

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Similarly, if you build a brand-new building… it’s going to be ‘greener’ or ‘more efficient’ or whatever. But what about all that embodied carbon? Where has all that old concrete gone to and where has all that new concrete come from?

Should I Stay or Should I Go: The Embodied Carbon of Buildings | imt.org

How Much Embodied Carbon Is In Your Building? | buildings.com

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The VGS news pages have already looked into these issues:

Circular construction: a solution to embodied carbon in buildings

What is a ‘net-zero carbon’ building?

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PART TWO: REPAIRING AND RETROFITTING

Then there is the movement towards improving and fixing already existing stuff…

Whether it’s repairing:

Sidmouth Repair Cafe

Or retrofitting:

Futures Forum: PassivHaus in East Devon >>> District Council refurbishes Victorian building ‘using ground breaking low energy standards’

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Again, the VGS news pages have looked at the possibilities:

Campaign for zero tax on green refurbishment of buildings: petition

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And that includes the struggle over Knowle:

Knowle relocation project: prioritise retrofitting existing buildings over demolition and rebuild

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It is manifestly clear that improving the performance of a building – rather than pulling it down and building a completely new one – makes much more sense from every angle.

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Here’s an info-graphic produced in 2013 to challenge the greenwashing PR campaign:

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And here’s’ a consideration of those issues:

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ENERGY:

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: “How efficiently is this building being used?”

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: saving energy costs – and challenging the justification to move

GREEN BUILDING:

Futures Forum: “A truly green alternative to EDDC’s proposal”

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife proposals >>> Where is the innovative, sympathetic, green design?

REFURBISHMENT:

Futures Forum: Knowle: refurbishment vs redevelopment

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: refurbishing a Victorian building >>> and the promise of social housing at Knowle

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: demolish or renovate?

RETROFITTING:

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: investing in renewable technologies to keep energy bills down

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: “How efficiently is this building being used?”

COST:

SOS dismisses “emotional, vague and unsubstantiated views” in Cllr Tom Wright’s letter. | Save Our Sidmouth

Futures Forum: Costs of relocating District Council offices vs costs of refurbishing Knowle

EMBODDIED CARBON:

Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon: pt 3

Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon

NEGLECTING OR LOOKING AFTER ASSETS:

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and ‘managed deterioration’

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the ‘managed neglect’ of valuable assets

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: “gaining the most out of your existing buildings and demonstrating how they can continue to be valuable assets”

FINALLY:

The construction industry is actually saying that it is more ‘efficient’ to stay put with the building you’ve already got:
Futures Forum: “The greenest building is the one standing” >>> Why do developers prefer to demolish buildings than renovate them?

… including the District Council’s own consultants:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: ‘Developers looking to get the most out of their stock in difficult economic conditions are increasingly turning to refurbishment rather than redevelopment. Davis Langdon look at the cost implications’

   
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