I visited the SmartLIFE Low Carbon open morning on 16th January to see how Green Technologies are creating opportunities for dramatic reductions in energy expenditure for our businesses.
It was only fitting to take my bicycle to visit the new SmartLIFE Low Carbon centre (http://www.smartlife.org.uk/smartlife-low-carbon-centre) last Monday. My interest stemmed from seeing the expertise of companies in retrofitting businesses and properties for increased energy efficiency, when accompanying a German delegation to EcoBuild and on visits to retrofitting projects in London (NRW Green Building Services Companies on a Mission to London and Ecobuild 2011 http://miltoncontact.blogspot.com/2011/03/nrw-green-building-services-companies.html.
The cold hard facts are that of the properties available in the year 2050, 90% have already been built. Many businesses will be more likely to move into existing premises than build totally new ones. With the increase in energy costs, the only real solution is to consider retrofitting, that is applying energy saving measures (insulation, glazing etc) and even generating own energy through solar heating or electricity.
One of the companies exhibiting was Paul Bourgeois’ Zerocarbonbritain.co.uk. His stand caught my eye due to the German language material. Providing a variety of services to UK companies, Paul can even help businesses and individuals who want to reach the ideal target of the German Passive House standard, equivalent to a 90% saving in energy consumption and costs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house).
I also met Chris Jablonski from the Huntingdonshire Green House project, where properties in St Ives had been retrofitted and were now available to visit to gain an impression of what can be done. Huntingdonshire is foresighted in providing a £500 grant for businesses wishing to increase their energy efficiency – see article on the Green House and links to grants here: Cutting your Energy bills in Huntingdonshire http://www.hbn.org.uk/node/2878.
Most of my time was spent with Katherine (Kat) Von Glos of Cambridgeshire County Council, learning more about the SmartLIFE Low Carbon building and its wider ambitions.
The SmartLIFE Low Carbon Centre is a joint venture between Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge Regional College. Its objective is to support businesses looking to adapt to a low carbon economy. This can be both in terms of businesses increasing their own energy efficiency and in training construction related businesses or future employees in the implementation of these new skills.
A quick tour of the building took us past the fitted laboratories that could be used for training, meeting rooms where a visiting minister was meeting a local delegation, down to the ground floor. Here, opposite the smart meter showing current green power generation by the building itself, was also a practical workshop where fitters and other construction related businesses could be familiarised with the practicalities of installing green technologies.
The SmartLIFE Low Carbon building is partly financed through the European Union, European Regional Development Fund, in conjunction with the SEE Project (http://www.see.gb.net/).
It is great to see a local emphasis on a greener business future within our region – for more information visit the Smartlife Low Carbon site at http://www.smartlife.org.uk/smartlife-low-carbon-centre.