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The Old Street Yard development consists of a new build 16 storey office building (known as the White Collar Factory), and a group of five lower rise mixed use buildings, combining new build with refurbishment. This project concentrates on analysing suitable adaptation options for the White Collar Factory office building.

Ten additional adaptation options for the planning stage building design were identified at the beginning of the TSB funded phase of the project. These have each been modelled using a weather file for the current climate (Test Reference Year 2005), and weather files for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s based on both the UKCIP02 and the UKCP09 high emissions scenario at the 90 per cent probability level.

The 10 adaptation options identified were as follows:

  • relaxing thermal comfort criteria
  • limiting solar gains – shading
  • limiting lighting load heat gain
  • limiting computer equipment heat gain
  • modifying/optimising building fabric
  • adjusting thermal mass
  • adjusting room height and air distribution system
  • night time cooling
  • mixed mode ventilation
  • increased natural ventilation potential

For each strategy, the impact of future climate on energy consumption and comfort criteria within the buildings was analysed individually. Outputs from these analyses have been used to make recommendations for consideration by Derwent London to potentially be incorporated into the actual building design.

Further project details

1. What approach did you take in assessing risks and identifying adaptation measures to mitigate the risks? 

A workshop format was used to bring the original building team and the D4FC team together to identify the major climate change risks for the project. Potential overheating as a result of increasing external air temperatures was identified as the major risk for a building of this type in this location. This workshop was used to brief the team on projected climate change scenarios and impacts for London and on the concept design for White Collar Factory. Case studies of similar or comparable projects were also presented.

Attendees included the Arup Buildings team and lead mechanical services engineer, the Arup environmental physics team and lead building physicist, and the AHMM architectural team. Sub-groups then discussed options for adaptation strategies on the project, with a plenary session to rank the suggested options and identify a package suitable for analysis. The adaptation package was then circulated to the team for final comment, and the chosen options taken forward for further analysis and modelling.

2. How have you communicated the risks and recommendations with your client? What methods worked well?

The most effective method of communication of risks and recommendations with Derwent London is direct presentations to the client team.

For White Collar Factory, three presentations have taken place during the course of the TSB funded aspects of the project. The first took place in November 2010 to raise awareness of the project, set out the scope of the project to the client team, and collate suggestions about the adaptation options identified for analysis.

A second presentation took place on 10 May 2011 to summarise the methodology, report on the progress of the project and provide feedback on emerging analysis results.

A final presentation of recommendations was given to the client on 21 February 2012 for them to consider and take forward, where appropriate, on the actual planning stage building design.

The client team will also be given the opportunity to comment on the final draft TSB report before it is submitted on 31 July 2012.

We have found the three presentations an effective method of communicating with the client, as they stimulated genuine interest and generated useful feedback, questions, discussion and input to this and related ongoing projects.

Information about climate change risks, the range of likely scenarios and possible adaptation options has been well received by the client. They are very interested in better understanding the implications of climate change for their building projects and are responsive to suggested adaptation strategies.

3. What tools have you used to assess overheating and flood risks?

To assess overheating risks the following software tools were used:

  • IES Virtual Environment
  • Oasys BEANS Suite
  • Ansys CFX

The project focuses on overheating, as flood risk is not considered to be an issue for the site.

4. What has the client agreed to implement as a result of your adaptation work?

Following the third and final presentation to the client, two of the ten adaptation options are currently being developed further by AHMM at the client’s request. These are:

  • increase openable areas in the opaque area of the façade (not the glazed area so as to avoid additional solar gain) to enhance natural ventilation potential as analysis indicates an energy/comfort/cost-benefit, which could be realised now through modifying current designs.
  • investigate the potential to integrate external shading devices at a later date in the future as analysis indicated there was no energy/comfort/cost-benefit until the 2050s.

Since the TSB funded aspects of the project have concluded, the following climate change adaptation related activities have been undertaken by the client and the design team:

  • construction of a prototype space/show suite for WCF building at Old Street Yard in February 2013.
  • use of prototype/show suite as event space and marketing tool for Derwent London.
  • development of site wide sustainability strategy for public space and roof areas.
  • further thinking about how best to meet BREEAM and LEED targets for water efficiency/management and biodiversity provision.
  • presentation to the London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP)/London Sustainability Exchange (LSX) Commercial Buildings event (3 December 2013).

5. What were the major challenges so far in doing this adaptation work?

Challenges at the start of the TSB funded aspects of the project included:

  • the definition and agreement of a package of discrete adaptation options, that included ‘realistic’ variations on the planning stage building design, as well as more aspirational ‘blue sky’ options.
  • selecting strategies that hadn’t been considered by the design team already, as the original design (with exposed thermal mass, embedded pipe work, opening windows, reduced glazing and tall floor heights) was already more resilient and better adapted to warmer temperatures than most buildings.
  • selecting and limiting the number of different future climate scenarios to analyse/weather files to use so that the results are informative and comparable yet concise and digestible.

Challenges towards the end of the TSB funded work on the project have been:

  • to present all 10 of the individual analyses as a coherent package of adaptation options, with clear distillation of outputs and key messages to the client.
  • costing and valuing these analyses as the necessary level of detailed information for each option is limited at this stage of the building project.

6. What advice would you give others undertaking adaptation strategies?

Engage with, clarify and understand the client’s vision for the project as early on as possible in the design process. Identify the targeted end-users and audience that the client is focusing on. This will effectively set the context for how and if any meaningful adaptation considerations and measures can be integrated into the project.

Focus on and communicate the reasons for undertaking analysis of climate risk, developing of adaptation options and strategies, and making decisions based upon them, namely:

  • legislative and regulatory drivers for doing it (have to), i.e. Climate Change Act 2008, CLG Building Regulations, Local Planning Authority requirements.
  • financial drivers for doing it (should do), ie capital costs versus operational savings, retaining market value of assets over time, reduced exposure to risks.
  • reputational and responsibility drivers for doing it (want to), i.e. ‘USP’, good risk/asset management, marketing material, attracts responsible buyers/tenants, contributes to well-being, productivity and satisfaction of owners/occupants.

Think about the comfort, energy, carbon and cost relationships for all adaptation options and strategies for addressing overheating risk.

Think scientifically and seriously but also creatively and visually. Adaptation measures need not constrain design ambitions nor limit design flexibility if risks and opportunities are considered early on and ideas are presented coherently and convincingly to the project team.

Recognise that strategies can be operational or management focused and may not physically affect a design or structure.

If possible and feasible, build a mock-up or prototype of any new spaces or systems before building at full scale and cost to test design assumptions and results of modelling analysis.

Integrate thinking about building engineering and design into wider sustainability strategies for site and surrounding public spaces.