The Sceptic Tank marvels at British Waterways' new plans for canal water cooled offices
Canals: living embodiment of our industrial heritage, favoured option of generic Brit gangster film location scouts, and now the most environmentally friendly means of cooling your waterfront office.
British Waterways, friend of house boat owners everywhere, has this month announced it has teamed up with consultancy Linden Environmental to promote a new means of cooling buildings using canal water.
The Sceptic Tank was envisaging a Heath Robinson contraption involving buckets, pulleys and drenched co-workers – the only flaw being that occasionally Keith from accounts might get brained by a shopping trolley.
But, apparently, British engineering has moved on a bit since the canals were built, and the system actually involves cool canal water being redirected to feed in to specially designed air conditioning units, slashing the level of energy required when compared with conventional air con systems, before returning the water to the canal.
"Modern buildings can often cost more to cool in summer than to heat in winter," said Paul Adams, marketing director of Linden, in no way dictating his comments for use in an accompanying press release. "Using canal water to cool large buildings can reduce air conditioning costs dramatically, minimising the impact on the environment and providing better working conditions for staff. Our target is to put in place enough schemes to remove the equivalent of 40,000 vehicles' CO2 emissions each year."
Encouragingly, there is also evidence that, superdrought allowing, the approach works. Both the University of Huddersfield and GlaxoSmithKline have already installed the system, saving more than £120,000 a year and 276 tons of carbon in the case of the drugs giant's West London offices.
Moreover, the good folks at Linden have developed a clever financing model that means the company is offering to install the system at no upfront cost, allowing organisations to save money on energy bills that will more than cover repayments.
All in all it is a genius wheeze, assuming assorted plastic bags, bicycle tyres and B-movie film props don't get in the way.
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