Good daylight, good insulation and renewable energy shouldn’t be set in competition against each other

sports hall useful

We were disappointed to read in your CPD module on designing school sports halls (CPD 2: Designing school sports halls, 15 February, page 53) the assertion that “for safety reasons, daylighting is incompatible with many of the uses of sports halls” leading to the conclusion that “the most cost-effective solution” for Part L compliance is “through acombination of energy efficiency measures and by including PV panels rather than roof lights”.

While incorporating appropriate daylighting into a design will incur some capital costs, the running cost savings from the use of daylight even some of the time can be considerable.

We would also take issue with the idea that many uses are incompatible with daylighting, as numerous well-used sports halls throughout the country make use of daylighting - none of which have closed for safety reasons.

One would hope that design of a school sports hall would be about more than taking the minimal steps to ensure “compliance”. It is generally perfectly possible to comply with Part L without the addition of renewable technologies - which are not without capital cost of their own. It is not made explicit in the article, but we have an additional concern that Sport England’s reported finding that “the most cost-effective solution” uses PVs rather than daylighting, depends on the payment of a feed-in tariff for the PVs - in other words, daylight could well be cheaper, but the collective energy bill will pay the owners to ignore the free daylight, and install PVs instead.

The idea of using an expensive (and publicly subsidised) technology to translate a percentage of the available daylight energy into electricity, in order for another technology to translate a percentage of that electricity back into light, a couple of metres away within the building, is the antithesis of efficiency and elegance, surely?

We would question the approach of carbon (and cash) equivalence/tradability of renewables and efficiency savings. Why should good daylight, good insulation and renewable energy be set in competition against each other? It shouldn’t be an either/or choice, any more than you’d ask an athlete to choose between training and good equipment.

Kate de Selincourt, Bob Irving, Dept of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University; Toby Cambray, Greengauge Energy; Susie Diamond, Inkling LLP