How green is the London Eye? (Oct07)

Much as I love having my children at home, a two week half term at this time of year can be quite difficult because work is in full flow. However, I had a brilliant day in London with my youngest son, Monty, who’s eight.

Monty enjoying the view

We went to Trafalgar square on the top deck of a double decker bus and crossed the Thames on foot. On the river bank we came across a wonderful looking silver man – Monty wasn’t at all sure he was real until we put some money in a box and the man came to life. He was even more impressed by the man with no head – who also put on a bit of a performance when he ‘saw’ our money.

One advantage of such a grey day was that there wasn’t a queue for the London Eye. We clambered into one of the capsules with a mixed bunch, which included a crying baby. Actually, that didn’t matter at all because we were so interested in the views – particularly at the very top when you can see the trains whizzing in and out of Waterloo station.

When I knew I was going for a ride on the wheel, I contacted the PR office and asked them a few questions about its environmental performance. I have to admit I was rather disappointed because they weren’t able to give me much detail. For example, I’d like to know how much energy it uses in a year and perhaps even per cycle – and whether they’ve managed to make any improvements in energy efficiency since it was built.

What they did tell me, however, was that only this year they’ve started using LED lights for lighting up the structure at night. This must be a very significant energy saving but the report they’ve commissioned is confidential, so I wasn’t allowed to know more. I’d also like to know what other London landmarks have switched to LED – please post a comment if you have any information on this.

The lady I spoke to in the PR office very kindly went off to find out what sort of coolants they use in the air conditioning units that I’d noticed in the bubbles. I hope she doesn’t regret telling me that its R407C. That doesn’t mean much to most people but I sent the information to my cooling expert (not really my personal expert!), Nick Cox from Earthcare Products. He explained that R407C is an HFC (hydroflurocarbon) refrigerant that has a global warming potential 1800 times worse than CO2. He was also sceptical about the claims of only using cooling for 6 weeks in a year and said that British Airways once had a policy of not using ‘high global warming potential’ refrigerants’, which they seem to have dropped…..

Originally posted by Julia Hailes on Telegraph Blogs

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