Groups look at design features of the IOP’s new home in King’s Cross

27 March 2014

Ideas for making the IOP’s new home in King’s Cross into a model of sustainable design were shared with some IOP group officers on 17 March, following a pre-application planning submission by the Institute.

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Some of the features proposed for the refurbished building include photovoltaic cells to generate electricity, natural convection, heating and cooling provided through geothermal piles and a “green roof” with living plant material for insulation and water absorption.

Robin Morris, secretary of the IOP’s Energy Group, was among officers from six groups who came to the current London centre in Portland Place to discuss the plans with architects Tate Hindle and engineering consultants AECOM. IOP chief executive Prof. Paul Hardaker, honorary secretary Stuart Palmer, and managing director of IOP Enterprises and project lead, Kate Meehan, were also there to hear members’ views.

Morris, an independent consultant on sustainable technologies, said groups had previously been invited to send in written suggestions and many of their proposals seemed to have been taken up or were in accord with the architects’ ideas. Members thought that it would be helpful to continue their involvement and also to see how some of the suggested schemes had been implemented elsewhere.

Morris said: “Many innovative practices have teething problems and they need to be easy to operate and maintain. We recommended that attention should be given to the handover process, making sure that the users understand the controls.”

Some possible innovations, such as displays showing energy usage in different parts of the building, would play an important role by providing feedback to users, he said, but argued that it was important not to conflate sustainability with demonstration technologies of primarily educational value. The meeting helped to make such distinctions clear, he thought.

He said: “Though the meeting would have benefited from more time for input from members, it was good to have the opportunity to find out what progress had been made and to make comments. It was vital to have the architects and energy consultants at the meeting but I think it was fantastic that Paul Hardaker was there, lending his full support and listening. Group officers seemed pleased to engage with the process and to understand it more.

“As public buildings are expected to follow a path to ‘near-zero energy’, there are some tough challenges ahead for this exciting refurbishment project.”

Other IOP groups represented were Materials and Characterisation, History of Physics, Computational Physics, Nuclear Industry and Particle Physics.

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