The JHBB's solar panels, water recycling and green roofs

Friday, 28 February 2014

Solar panels on JHBB roof

The John Henry Brookes Building has a range of energy saving attributes, including solar panels, water recycling and green roofs.

Solar panels

There are solar panels on both the Abercrombie extension and the John Henry Brookes Building. These panels will contribute towards the supply of electricity to both buildings and will also reduce approximately 4% of the building’s carbon emissions.

Solar panels are made of a series of photovoltaic cells made up of layers of a semi-conducting material, typically silicon. As the panels absorb the light an electric field is created. While solar Panels work at their optimum in strong sunlight, they do work at lower light levels too.

To check out how our solar panels are performing, there are two digital display screens. One is on the Abercrombie ground floor next to the vending machines, and the other opposite Student Central in the John Henry Brookes Building.

Water recycling and green roofs

To manage the runoff of rainwater from the roof of the John Henry Brookes Building there is a storage tank under the courtyard. The tanks will collects about 50% of rainwater runoff which will also ensure that the flow of water into sewers is managed. The other key benefit will be how the stored water is used in the new building. Often referred to as ‘grey water’, the water from the tanks will be distributed into the main toilet blocks and used for flushing.

Sedum roof Westminster Halls

This sedum roof, atop Westminster Halls at Oxford Brookes' Harcourt Hill Campus, is steadily developing.

The benefits of a green (sedum) roof

The flow of water from the roofs of the John Henry Brookes Building is reduced as the green roof controls the flow and absorbs it.

Controlling the flow of water from the roofs will decrease the stress on the local sewer system during periods of high rain fall.

Additionally, a green roof can help towards managing the temperature of the building.  In the summer, the vegetation will absorb light and prevent its energy from turning into heat energy; and at cooler times of the year the substrate and plant layer will also act as insulator, reducing the amount of heat being lost from the building. 

The sedum roof will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by contributing toward the building’s temperature management in this way, but the plants will also absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, and capture airborne pollutants and atmospheric deposition (eg emissions from vehicle engines).

With a selection of plant life, green roofs can become a valuable habitat for insects and some avian wildlife.