Image of the Week: Palace of Westminster
MPs and Peers say improving energy efficiency should be part of urgent renovations of the UNESCO world heritage site and Grade 1 listed building
Report from – Damien Carr
Palace of Westminster, London, Feb. 2007. Photo by David Iliff (License-CC-BY-SA 3.0)
The Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster published a report on 8 September recommending a £4bn ‘Restoration and Renewal Programme’ starting in 2023. The programme of works would take six years, with MPs relocated to the Department of Health and Lords moving to the QEII Conference centre.
Despite extensive erosion and water damage to the stonework, the building structurally sound and the primary reason for the renovation are the building’s mechanical and engineering (M&E) services. Much of the vast network of pipes, cables and machinery that carry heat, ventilation, air-conditioning, power, water, data, and dozens of other essential services were last replaced in the late 1940s and reached the end of their projected life in the 1970s and 1980s. Other issues include the Palace’s 3,800 original, bronze-framed windows, none of which close properly.
Improving the energy efficiency of the building during the medium-term M&E programme. This will be achieved by installing more modern pumps, sensors and controls in plant rooms, improving insulation in the roof spaces and around the windows, and by refurbishing the windows themselves.
The Report recognises that that improving the environmental performance in a Grade I listed building is complex, with measured to improve the thermal performance possibly requiring the need for ventilation and humidity control, which might in turn reduce or negate the energy savings. But despite the complexities, “many Members and staff have impressed on us the need to improve Parliament’s performance in this area”.