Green Working Group – first ideas

10 Jan

This week we have mostly been checking out some cool ideas to do with watching our water, heat and energy consumption. Check out this document of initial proposals – we’re not sure how many of these we can squeeze out of a Grade 2 listed Georgian townhouse but hey, we’re up for trying. Show your support by dropping a line to us at


Oxford Hub’s development project has the potential to radically change the way grade-listed buildings function within Oxford City Centre. A successful retrofit can act as an example of future-proofing local historical architecture. Extensive work is required to incorporate this into the current development project design and renovation to ensure long-term sustainability.

Oxford Hub’s Green Working Group is a collective of students, local residents and Hub staff who are committed to ensuring sustainability, ethics and community participation are ingrained within every element of the development. The team have worked collectively to identify five areas in which these principles require attention; Energy, Waste, Water, Food/Procurement, Decor. The following brief is a description of these ideas, with particular emphasis on structural redesign to maximise energy efficiency, ethical functionality and sustainable processes.

Problems identified

  • Extensive lack of wall cavity insulation throughout the entire building. Walls are made up of brick and wooden slats
  • Poor, nearly inexistent loft insulation. Any existing will almost certainly need replacing
  • Single glazed sash windows lead to poor heat containment
  • Lack of carpet underlay in upper level rooms increase heat loss
  • Temperature control is complicated and unnecessary. Building includes ceramic wall heaters, electric fan radiators, air conditioning and fireplace.
  • Draft proofing around windows and doors requires significant attention
  • Two boilers, one of which requires replacement

Structural considerations

  • Cavity wall insulation built into open wall spaces
  • Loft insulation and draft proofing around access point. Loft’s can be redesigned to act as useful storage areas as long as adequate infrastructure is in place to prevent heat loss
  • Under-floor insulation in both carpeted and wooden floor slabs throughout the building. All re-carpeted flooring should include underlay at the very least
  • Replace single glazing panels with double (or even, triple!) or improve heat containment with window film
  • Draft proofing around window and door frames
  • Move all heating elements away from window frame area

Temperature control

  • Air conditioning units only for internal rooms with no access to windows. Consideration required for rooms that will be used for live music/evening functions due to noise restriction regulations
  • Fireplaces to cleared for more efficient multi-fuel burning stoves (wood/newspaper bricks)
  • Reflective panels to be added to all radiating units to increase heat efficiency
  • Boilers to be insulated externally
  • Green walls/roof space can be useful to maintain room temperature. Explore areas where this can be utilised.


  • Maximise sunlight in darker rooms by inbedding Sun Pipes/sky light
  • Remove internal corners to increase spread of natural light
  • Replace tungsten GLF lamps with CLF
  • Consider replacing T8 lamps with retrofit T5 conversion kit
  • Look in to automatic switch off systems Water
  • Water systems for commercial toilet facilities to be flushed with grey water from kitchen/top floor drains
  • Heat capture for hot water through running pipes through computer server units
  • Additionally, cooling computer server units through creating a “green wall” or a water cooling unit
  • Adequate drinking tap points installed on all levels
  • Low level flush units on all toilets
  • Boiling water tap (rather than a kettle) installed in top floor kitchen spaces
  • Lagging pipes
  • Rainwater harvesting for grey water use and garden irrigation


  • NO AGA’S!
  • Kitchen to be run on fuel efficient gas supply
  • Electricity supplier changed to Green Energy provider
  • All inbedded electrical equipment to be energy saving
  • Leave external space for potential micro-generation projects
  • Extreme investment, but possible ground source water heating
  • Combined heat and power units (would require space, possibly in the basement)
  • Smart meters visible

Extra points to consider

  • Building contains A LOT of furniture/items – none of which should be thrown away but think of innovative ways to use what is there
  • Encourage the development of a year round “free shop”
  • Space for this needed in building so look into rails/shelves
  • New furniture should be sourced from freecycle/Emmaus/second hand shops
  • Decorating materials from Orinoco or other recycled decorating stores
  • Provide as much information as possible about food/furniture/internals systems to explain the ethical/environmental credentials of the building and its function to help educate customers who use the space
  • Kitchen must provide a space for adequate recycling systems and composting
  • Construction waste to be recycled or disposed or effectively

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact: Guppi Bola
Oscar Benjamin

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