Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Knowle relocation project and CO2 emissions ..................... or: putting the cart before the horse

A report just out from the UK's Committee on Climate Change
UK Emissions by Sector | Committee on Climate Change
Aviation industry is carbon criminal, while supermarkets slash emissions | The big energy debate | theguardian.com
... highlights how local authorities could do much more to reduce their carbon emissions.

Here are some pertinent questions on the relocation project from a correspondent:

The District Council claim the Skypark building will be 'more energy-efficient' - but what are the carbon consequences of the move?
> Retrofitting the 1980 blocks at Knowle would  produce the least carbon.
> Relocating means demolition and building anew at the Knowle. (ie: significantly more embodied CO2)
> The sale of the Business Centre to Asda will lead to a massive increase in carbon.
> The Skypark HQ will increase traffic mileage - on top of the building construction and usage.
> The overall result is a greenwash - with a huge increase in CO2 emissions.

More questions:

To what extent is relocation from Knowle 'predetermined'?
And to what extent is the District Council retrospectively trying to massage the figures to justify the move?
Is the District Council attempting to break ground prior to the next election - without a mandate?
Why is the District Council only just currently reviewing the delivery of their service while seeking further returns from their assets to underwrite the new HQ? 
Is this a case of putting the cart before the horse?


Why move, as relocation makes no financial or environment sense 
- and is unpopular with District Council staff and the East Devon community?

To illustrate these points, here is a reposting of parts of the cost analysis from Robin Fuller 
- using Davis Langon's (now AECOM’s) own figures:

Since EDDC have seemingly failed to estimate the cost of refurbishing the modern offices, I have done so using data published by Davis Langdon, EDDC’s own consultants on ‘moving and improving’. They assess typical benefits and costs of office refurbishment: (http://www.davislangdon.com/upload/30297_Cost%20Model%20-%20Office%20Refurb_v2.pdf).

They state that benefits include: a better balance of risk and return; delivery 15‑70% quicker than new build; costs 10‑75% less than a new build; an opportunity to support new ways of working; a reduction in the carbon footprint; reduction of the overall environmental impact when compared to a new build.

Davis Langdon estimated costs to ‘remodel, medium refurbishment’ as £807-£1345 per sqm or to ‘renew, major refurbishment’ as £1345-£1883 per sqm (Central London prices, 2012;  south-west prices 89% of this). These costs are for a Category A fit-out – generally what a developer provides as rentable office space.

Using Davis Langdon’s figures, the refurbishment costs for the 2,725 sqm of modern offices at Knowle would be £2.0million-£3.3million to ‘remodel’ or £3.3million-£4.6million to ‘renew’ (at SW prices).

It is obvious that refurbishment of just those parts of Knowle needed by EDDC – mostly buildings 30‑35 years old – cannot possibly cost as much as the £15million quoted for all Knowle buildings, some over 200 years old. The likely costs, in the range £2.0million-£4.6million according to Davis Langdon, need to be properly focussed by pricing a downsized Knowle, using a sensible design brief – not one contrived to match EDDC’s prejudice in favour of moving. I still expect that costs could be met by the sale of unused parts of Knowle for redevelopment as flats.

Effective refurbishment could make the energy efficiency of the modern buildings at Knowle as good as new, and bring the standard of accommodation fully up to date. However, EDDC still wants to build a brand new headquarters costing £6.9million-£7.9million (excluding the price of the land). Building costs are double, perhaps triple, the likely costs of refurbishment.

It is our money which EDDC puts at risk. We already own the Knowle. The potential loss of that amenity without a tangible gain to the people is not ‘cost-neutral’ as EDDC claim. We accept that EDDC’s offices need updating. However, we are entitled to a fair assessment of the real options and the true costs of refurbishment at Knowle, before EDDC can consider using our assets and our money to buy themselves a new building.

See also:
Futures Forum: "A truly green alternative to EDDC's proposal"

Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon
Futures Forum: Knowle: old bricks vs new build: embodied carbon: pt 3
Futures Forum: Knowle plans: flats
Futures Forum: Knowle plans: expense
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel and grounds ... application to English Heritage for national listing
Futures Forum: Knowle: relocation... costs of borrowing...?
Futures Forum: Knowle: relocation... costs of borrowing...? Another presentation to be given to 'stakeholders'... And another ‘confidential briefing for councillors’
Futures Forum: Costs of relocating District Council offices vs costs of refurbishing Knowle
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: getting the figures straight
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: moving to Skypark: £1 million
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: District Council vote to spend £1million on Skypark: blog reports

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