A Cooler Day at the Office
Practical steps to adapt council buildings in Cornwall to projected climate change.
The 1960s were a cultural turning point – the decade that redefined ‘cool’. But in terms of the built environment, their legacy poses some real challenges.
Cornwall Council’s offices in Camborne are a case in point. As with many buildings of the same vintage, they simply wouldn’t have been able to maintain staff comfort (and therefore productivity) in the rising summer temperatures and fluctuating weather patterns projected to result from climate change. But a £4 million refurbishment is tackling the problem, using local climate projections provided by PROMETHEUS, an Exeter University project that’s part of the LWEC-accredited Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate initiative. The Technology Strategy Board’s Design for Future Climate competition has also provided funding support.
The aim is to create a flexible, open-plan working environment where a twin-track strategy underpins effective climate change adaptation. Physical modifications to this four-storey building will reduce solar gain, promote cooling and increase ventilation: key measures include adding insulation to external walls, incorporating perimeter gaps in ceilings and fitting windows with tinted solar films. But these will be complemented by changes in the way occupants use the building, which was constructed in an era before computers and other heat-emitting office equipment were so ubiquitous. Promoting energy efficiency awareness amongst staff (turning off lights and computers), more homeworking and alterations to working hours are also being implemented.
“Our existing building stock needs to adapt to climate change and reducing our corporate carbon footprint is paramount,” says Peter Woodford, Group Architect at Cornwall Council. “We’re also applying these principles to our upcoming refurbishment of Truro’s New County Hall.”
Contact: Peter Woodford email@example.com