Hounslow Civic Centre

London Councils have some of the lowest uptake of solar panel figures in the United Kingdom, but some boroughs such as Hounslow Borough Council are different and, with the help and advice of specialist sustainable roofing company ICB, are now leading the way in proving that the right product can cut the overall costs of going green. 

The installation follows Hounslow Borough Council’s determination to become one of the UK’s leading local authorities in the field of environmental sustainability. As one of the few London Borough Councils finding innovative ways to improve in-house sustainability, Hounslow is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% by 2017.

ICB (Projects) Ltd, installed 151 of the super efficient SunPower Solar PV roof panels on the roof of the Hounslow Civic Centre. These panels are proven to produce the most energy in space-constrained areas. The project has shown that even small spaces can produce a lot of electricity, making solar energy a viable option in the capital.

Charles Pipe, the Energy Manager at Hounslow Borough Council who oversaw the project, has described how difficulties in cutting Carbon Emissions in London led the Council to search for the most efficient panels. “At Hounslow we take the view that tackling climate change is essential and we have set out an ambitious programme to significantly reduce carbon emissions across the borough. When we found ICB and the SunPower Solar Roof Tile (325Watts), being the most powerful solution for area on weight-constrained flat rooftops, it suited our need for a highly efficient solar energy system at a competitive price.” Having a PV solar roof that provides an energy resource, reduces electricity bills, increases awareness of electricity use and encourages more efficient energy behaviour.

The SunPower module was chosen by ICB because, as the most efficient panel available in the world, it will provide the best return for the space available, providing the building with 39,919 kWh of electricity a year. With an expected pay back of investment in just eight years, thanks to the government’s Feed-in-Tariff; a 20 year subsidy that provides income when electricity is fed back into the mains, a further 12 years of income/profit will be added to the Council’s funds.

Expertly installed by ICB without penetrating the roof itself, the SunPower system is: durable, lightweight, resists high winds & corrosion and has a life expectancy of 30 years. Which means it will go on producing free electricity a decade beyond the term of the feed in tariff.

Well-known expert on local government law and champion of a low carbon economy, Stephen Cirell also states in his blog that councils like Hounslow are correct in using green energy to help the economy. “The normal corporate agenda of the local authority and the green agenda are almost perfectly aligned at the present time. This means that if a council wants growth, jobs and income, the green agenda is the best bet for delivering them. Government subsidies may have been criticised, but they are available and so the public sector should have their share.”

ICB were involved in all elements of the installation, offering a complete package of roofing solutions including Waterproofing and Roof Edge Protection. The single ply waterproofing membrane with a world renowned reputation, Fibertite, was installed which will provide excellent protection from moisture even after years of exposure to weather. ICB also ensured safety for all involved with use of their unparalleled safety systems for flat roofs, Barrial. The Barrial range includes fixed, free-standing and folding guard rails.

Hounslow Borough Council has taken the lead in London where sustainability and solar power are concerned. Rather than seeing solar panels and investment in energy-efficient solutions as an added burden to an already stretched budget, local governments should follow Hounslow in taking the opportunity to meet sustainability objectives cheaply. The most efficient systems, such as those supported by ICB, use government subsidies to pay for themselves in a short time, after which they provide a source of income for the local authorities. In the meantime, the jobs and growth created will bring a boost to the economy – before even considering the benefits to the environment.

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