Big Ben May Get a Solar Face Lift
In an effort by the U.K. Parliament to reach the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 34 percent by 2020, the House of Commons is now looking to the parliamentary estate and considering installing solar panels on the face of Big Ben in London. Parliamentary passholders were submitting ideas for reducing carbon emissions and boosting energy efficiency on the estate, when the solar idea was suggested.
Big Ben, officially renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012, was constructed in 1859 and contains 6.9-meter clocks on a 96-meter tower. It is located on the north end of the Palace of Westminster and has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom, particularly in visual media and the chimes in audio media. It is a popular landmark in the United Kingdom, thus installing solar panels would be an iconic gesture.
Other energy efficiency estate plans include insulating the Palace of Westminster roof with sheep wool — a material that has been found to significantly reduce heat loss, while preventing leaks. Several green initiatives are underway this year, such as installing voltage optimization technology to mitigate wasted energy, identifying energy efficiency improvements for all estate buildings, and replacing light bulbs with LEDs. Parliament has already reduced waste water and increased recycling.
The Climate Change Act of 2008 set legally binding greenhouse gas emissions targets for the United Kingdom of at least a 34 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. The government has been on track to meet its first three carbon budgets, says Energy Secretary Ed Davey, which is very impressive given the scope of the goal. Such a significant carbon reduction initiative is a huge task, which has been partially obscured by sluggish economic growth.
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Big Ben image via Shutterstock.