Making the most of the North Lights in South Bristol
Recycling old buildings may be a virtuous activity but it is rarely a straightforward one. The Tobacco Factory on North St, (Bristol) was no exception. Built to house laboratories and offices as part of the vast Imperial Tobacco site in South Bristol it’s now home to a theatre, cafe, offices and flats thanks to clever and ingenious use of the building’s features and characteristics.
But when the Tobacco Factory Arts Trust, wanted to generate a proportion of the electricity used in the theatre housed on the second floor one existing feature came to the for.
Like many buildings of its era the Tobacco factory was built with a series of parallel ‘saw-tooth’ roofs with windows running along the north facing slopes. These ‘north lights’ were designed to give an even, year round light in the laboratories below. They also provided ideal south facing slopes on which to install PV panels.
Climate Works Ltd was approached to investigate how these might be best used, and how much electricity a PV system could generate as well as the financial and carbon savings it might achieve. Using a system model developed in-house we were able to assess the potential yield, cost, and electricity and carbon savings from a PV system. And to assist with an application for funding under the last round of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.
The result? – a 22.5kW PV system which was officially switched on at the start of this month. How much will it produce? The estimate is around 19,000kWh per annum, (around 1/3 of the electricity consumption of the theatre) but so far it is running ahead of the estimates most likely due to the bright spring (combined with cool air temperatures).
For the theatre the roof is one part of their broader carbon saving programme, as well as great PR. But it is also insurance against the rising cost of energy now and in the future.
For advice and information about the use of renewables and energy efficiency measures in your building please contact Mark Letcher or Liz Vosper on 0117 902 0697.
Climate Works Ltd 15th April 2011.