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Sustainable building design

How can we use physics to make buildings more efficient? Find out about some of the behind-the-scenes technology that helps to make the IOP’s home in King's Cross an energy-efficient, sustainable building.


Diagram of how LED lighting works

LED lighting

In the past, if you wanted to see in the dark, you would have to set something on fire, use the inefficient, white-hot filament of an incandescent bulb or settle for the humming, unpleasant glow of a fluorescent tube. And then came LED lighting – what’s the physics behind these highly efficient and long-lasting light sources?

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Diagram of thermal modelling

Thermal modelling

Before the IOP building was even built, physicists and engineers were thinking about making the building as efficient as possible. Choosing the right building materials and using thermal modelling allowed them to create the best building design to make it as beautiful, energy efficient and comfortable as possible. 

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Diagram of a blue green roof and how it works

Blue-green roof

When rain falls onto a city like London, the water runs off a range of hard surfaces like roofs and pavements and then runs down the drain. When rainfall is extremely heavy, the rainwater can overwhelm London’s Victorian sewer system and cause major problems to the river Thames and the wider environment. We can help this problem by slowing down the journey of the water by holding it on our roof rather than it washing away instantly from hard, impermeable surfaces.

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Diagram of solar panels - their cost and efficiency.

Solar panels

First used to generate power for early spacecraft, solar panels are now found all over the world, powering communities without generating carbon emissions. How do solar panels convert sunlight into electricity? What do you need to keep in mind when designing a solar farm to make it as efficient as possible?

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Diagram of a ground source heat pump and how it works in summer and winter.

Ground source heat pump

To heat a building and make it suitable for people to live or work in usually means spending money on fuel which, depending on the fuel, emits carbon into the environment and contributes to climate change. But what if we could get free heating by looking underground?

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