Keeping London at the forefront of global business
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Lowering the carbon cost of commuting
17 September 2019
In facing the immediate challenges of the climate crisis, it is imperative that all involved in building design and construction share the burden of reducing carbon emissions. We must work together to devise and implement sustainable solutions across every aspect of building projects – architects, consultants, contractors and (most importantly) clients.
In designing the redevelopment of London Bridge Station as part of the ambitious Thameslink programme, Grimshaw was fortunate enough to work with a client in Network Rail who placed sustainable targets and aspirations at the heart of their brief. Trains provide the greenest public transport option, delivering the lowest carbon emissions per passenger per kilometre (14g C02e), and Network Rail’s desire to increase the station’s capacity meant the project has delivered major environmental benefits. Of course, an increased capacity offers economic incentives as well, but crucially the 80% uplift in train numbers achieved at London Bridge enables a shift of commuters from carbon-intense modes of transport, such as buses and cars, on to trains.
Delivering transport infrastructure projects enables architects to not only facilitate this greener approach to travel, but also to ensure carbon costs are considered throughout design, construction and operation. Working with WSP at London Bridge. Grimshaw conceived the new station concourse as unconditioned, with only retails units and staff accommodation being heated or cooled. By including 180 geothermal piles in the station’s foundations, which act as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer, we saved 126 tons of C02 each year – the equivalent carbon used to heat 84 homes. Retail space and station operations were housed in reused Victorian viaduct arches, while the bricks from the demolished sections of viaduct were crushed on site and used in concourse foundations.
Nearly all building waste from London Bridge Station’s construction was recycled, with contractors Costain saving an impressive 98% from landfill. 200,000 tons of excavated soil was moved to landfill projects along the Thames by barges instead of by road, reducing the carbon cost by 60% and minimising congestion, noise and air pollution.
Sustainable alternatives and ingenuity were employed at every stage of London Bridge’s redevelopment, and its low carbon achievements are a testament to the commitment of all involved to mitigating climate change. Environmental credentials are increasingly prioritised in assessing the success of building projects, and that is certainly the case with 2019’s RIBA Stirling Prize, for which London Bridge Station has been shortlisted. Each of the projects RIBA are considering for UK’s best new building has its own ‘green story’ to tell, and with London Bridge it is one of collaboration and innovation, experienced by over 400,000 commuters every day.
London Bridge Station is one of five projects shortlisted for the 2019RIBA Stirling Prize. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 8 October 2019 at the Roundhouse in London.
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