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Buildings account for around 40% of energy emissions in advanced economies. such as the UK, and around 24% of raw material extracted from the earth's surface. Increased energy legislation since the 1990's has led to a major shift in the European construction industry, from a long-held focus on new build, to a new focus on reuse. The adaptation and retrofit of well-built older stock to reduce emissions and waste (generated through extraction, processing, construction and demolition) is now a priority. Developing sustainable new additions to the stock each year, (though these will only form a small proportion of the overall number of buildings), is also essential.

Colouring London looks to increase socially and economically inclusive, and environmentally sustainable development in the capital. The project promotes the principles of sustainability, as set out by UNESCO's New Urban Agenda.

New approaches to reducing building related emissions are urgently required, with emissions rising in the UK, in 2017, for the second year running. In this section we ask how can Colouring London contribute to this process through the capture and visualisation of data relating to energy performance and building longevity?

Questions of interest include: Can energy performance data be visualised in such a way as to effect behavioural change and accelerate emissions reduction from the building stock? Can Colouring London's Use, Type, Age, Size & Shape, Construction and Demolition datasets be used to generate more accurate 

predictions of building lifespans, and more effective lifespan extension strategies? And how can data on repairability and persistence of form, help inform future sustainable design strategies?  Below are a number of data subcategories which we plan to develop and visualise over the next year. 


Energy Performance and Retrofit

The energy performance of buildings is monitored by the UK government through an energy rating system. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are required for all properties, when constructed, let, or sold. They are based on paid for surveys, and capture information on efficiency measures such as insulation and double glazing to give a current, as well as a potential, energy rating. For public buildings, a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) is required. Here we are collecting and visualising EPC and DEC data.

There is currently no 'sustainability' rating for buildings. However, the BREEAM rating, introduced by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990, provides a future model. BREEAM is the world's longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of a building's design, and uses scientifically based sustainability metrics and indices to assess energy and water use, health and well- being, pollution, transport, materials, waste, and ecology and management processes. Certification is at the discretion of building owners and provides recognition for those adopting sustainable solutions.  Some councils also make achievement of a BREEAM level a condition of planning permission.  BREEAM data for London are pre-filled using information from BRE.

Repair and adaptation (Under discussion)
Tens of thousands of buildings exist in London today that are over 150 years old. Many have original features, such doors and windows, in perfect working order. To survive for very long periods, buildings need to be well-designed and well-built in the first place, made of materials and components that are either long-lasting, or able to be replaced or repaired, and regularly maintained. Systems and spaces need to be flexible enough to adapt to changing needs of occupants. They also need a certain degree of luck in avoiding the many factors that can lead to demolition.  In this section we are consulting with energy, historic building and construction specialists on the repairability of specific construction systems, to see whether a repairability 'rating' could be assigned to specific structural systems and typologies.

Potential Lifespans (Under discussion)
Many energy and housing models today use assumed 'economic' or 'design' lifespans which bear no relation to the actual lifespan of buildings.  However, accurate actual  lifespan data are now needed to understand the speed at which stocks, and typologies within them, change, and the consequent impact this has on energy, waste and material extraction, on the well-being of local populations, and on the economic success of local areas too.  Actual lifespan data are being collected in our 'Age' and 'Demolitions' categories. Once sufficient data have been collected, these will be analysed at CASA, and combined with 'Typology', 'Use' and 'Construction' data, and the repair rating to produce a 'potential  lifespan' estimate.

Embodied carbon

We are also currently looking to include an embodied carbon index for London's buildings. 



Colouring London is an open data platform and we can only accept data from unrestricted sources.  Just use first-hand knowledge of the building wherever possible, or, check your source is open and free for third party use.

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