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University of Greenwich, Stockwell Street

The project comprises the relocation of the School of Architecture and Construction, currently situated at Eltham, to Greenwich. It also creates a new learning resource centre on the same site, to improve its facilities and accommodate a growing numbers of students. The development will be undertaken on a brownfield site in Stockwell Street, Greenwich and proposes to provide 17,000 m² of new buildings 10,000 m² for the School of Architecture and Construction and 7000 m² for the learning resources centre.

Further project details

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

We held several workshops at which each member of the design team and the client attended. Climate related design and operational risks were identified and adaptations options and strategies developed. Each adaptation measure and its application to the University of Greenwich project was discussed.

Where data was available further numerical modelling was undertaken otherwise a “what if” approach was taken.

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

The client has been in attendance at each workshop and as such, is fully aware of all adaptation measures that will be recommended. The client has been involved in all areas of the design for the adaptation measures. Some of the students from the college are also getting involved outside of the workshops.

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

The University of Manchester were appointed to analyse the UKCIP09 data and to provide the team with the following:

  • design limit data for heating and cooling systems
  • design summer year (DSY) for overheating analysis for Greenwich for present, 2020s, 2040s 2080s. This data was used IES thermal modelling analysis software
  • test reference year (TRY) data energy use analysis for Greenwich for present, 2020s, 2040s 2080s.
  • peak rainfall data from the University of Manchester was given, in terms of mm/hr for storm water flooding risk calculations.

The TSB design checklist was developed further to aid discussion and structure the design analysis at the workshops.

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

The adaptation measures were discussed with the client and it has been agreed to implement the following:

  • permanent flood protection to basement areas
  • add access control to the standby generator
  • include adaptable door frames for door dams
  • connect drainage system to the BMS
  • build-up above the attenuation tank to avoid flotation
  • an increase to the number of bike storage spaces
  • allow for an increase in plant and riser space.

This equates to a cost uplift of the original cost plant of £149,000 from £42,570,000 to a new total of £42,719,000.

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

A large degree of uncertainty remains surrounding the design basis and the context in which the effects of climate change can be assessed. The availability of credible future weather data is fundamental to an analytical assessment of the impacts. The nonexistence or unreliability of specific data relating to key risk factors such as rainfall and wind reduces confidence in the analysis. As a result, clients and design teams are less likely to commit to added expenditure in response to potential risks.

The UKCP09 weather data has the potential to provide high resolution weather data for projects but as yet is generally unusable by the property sector.

Ultimately the implementation of adaptation measures will affect costs and this need to be balanced against budget.

The second major challenge was identifying the risks and briefing the design team. There was a degree of scepticism and initial defensiveness but gradually this was overcome.

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

Many of the adaptations and those of most significance are strategic in nature and affect the space planning and structure of the building. As such the climate related risks need to be identified and analysed at an early stage in the project.

Based on the experience of the team the following design strategy could be adopted for other buildings:

  • measures that required structural alteration were recommended to be undertaken immediately irrespective of their actual required implementation time.
  • measures that required changes to system or component capacity were only to be implemented when required but consequential structural and space planning issues were implemented (as in the first point).
  • each measure was considered in terms of its impact on the current design and modifications immediately introduced to facilitate a future retrofit.
  • those measures that were identified but for which the UKCIP09 weather data provided no firm direction were assessed on their merits and measures introduced on a risk management basis. This particularly applied to the risk of flooding.
  • adaptation measures for future years were triggered by the crossing of key thresholds such as thermal capacities of plant, indoor and external design criteria temperature criteria.

Ultimately the implementation of adaptation measures will impact upon costs. A building that is inherently flexible and “loose fit”, and has good passive design features, is likely to be easier and less costly to adapt over its lifetime.