Bulldozing meeting rooms would be bad for the environment, expert says


Tearing down Derby’s meeting rooms and replacing them with another building would cost just over 11,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 37% of city council’s total annual carbon emissions.

The claim came from research into the environmental cost of the 1970s building demolition in Derby Marketplace, which was carried out by a former Derby man who now works 20,000 miles away at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Philip Oldfield revealed his findings in the latest edition online of industrial renown Journal of Architects, and said the refurbishment would cost 4,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

He says the difference between the two digits is equivalent to:

  • 1,590 passenger cars driven for 1 year
  • 18,379,519 miles traveled in an average passenger vehicle (which travels 738 times around the world)
  • Carbon sequestered by 120,925 tree seedlings cultivated for 10 years
  • Carbon sequestered by 8,960 hectares of forest (in the USA) in one year
  • Barring a last minute list of the building designed by Casson-Condor to keep it from being demolished, the structure is set to be razed after the Derby City Council planning committee voted in favor of the demolition request in May.

    Although Derby City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019, it has now admitted that no lifetime carbon assessment has been carried out on competing renovation, demolition and reconstruction options.

    Mr Oldfield, director of the university’s architecture program, said: “It is clear in the case of the boardrooms that the demolition of the building and its replacement with a possibly inferior example would contribute to many more emissions of carbon than even a major renovation.

    “Add to that the civic value of the building, which helps define the urban center in the heart of the city, and I have no doubts that the city council’s demolition plan is the right one.”



    Inside the building the carpet still looks good but is covered in places with dust and debris as if everything needs a good cleaning

    Coco Whittaker, social worker at the Twentieth Century Society – who asked the government to list the place – said: “These calculations confirm what the C20 Society and other heritage activists have long been saying – that demolition and reconstruction produce huge amounts of environmentally harmful carbon emissions and that renovating existing buildings is much more climate-friendly.

    “If Derby City Council is truly committed to tackling climate change, it will seriously reconsider the reuse of meeting rooms. This is a local heritage asset that should be protected, rather than unnecessarily bulldozed.

    A city council spokesperson said council investigated the renovation but it cost £ 33million, a figure they said could have risen further.

    He added: “‘It has always been understood that the renovation only offered a lifespan of 15 to 20 years and therefore the city council made the decision in 2020 to continue the development of a brand new arena of performance as a key component of Becketwell’s regeneration program This new site will not only provide a state-of-the-art facility, but also a facility with a lifespan of 40 years and more.

    “The city council is currently studying options for the future development of the meeting room site and in April obtained a building permit for the demolition of the meeting room complex, on condition that it obtains a new, longer-term use of the building. site after confirmation that the Secretary of State was not calling the request. “

    The meeting rooms were closed in 2014, following a fire in the technical room above the adjacent car park, which interrupted vital site services.

    One of the problems in this area is that there are no regulations that force developers or planners to take these carbon numbers into account when choosing applicants.

    According to Chris Brown, Founder of Igloo Regeneration, “Bbuilding something new generates greenhouse gases. The renovation too. New buildings are easier to run at net zero than refurbished buildings, making it difficult to assess the overall carbon impact of individual projects.

    “In any situation, the starting position should always be to ask if the existing building can be effectively reused, and then if it is the best option for society and the planet.”

    Philip Oldfield’s Embedded Carbon Analysis in Derby Boardrooms

    Derby meeting room floor space

    Hall building: 8,200 m²

    Multi-storey car park 9,000 m²

    Total area: 17,200 m²

    Two scenarios:

    1. Cut down and rebuild = 11,413.2 tonnes of CO2e

    2. Refurbishment = 4,100 tonnes of CO2e

    Derby City Council total carbon emissions

    In 2011/12 (most recent data available), it was 30,608 tonnes of CO2e


    About Norma Wade

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