Guardian video highlights Mulberry Academy London Dock pollution issues

The Guardian newspaper has published an excellent film entitled ‘Toxic school run: how polluted air is the air that children breath’ which is essential viewing for any Wapping – or Tower Hamlets – parent who is eagerly following the progress of the new secondary school to be built at the London Dock development.

Good, innit? And very relevant to Mulberry Academy London Dock school as it is now officially termed.

Because as the diagram below shows the new school is to be built right next to The Highway which is one of the busiest road routes into central London and one of the most heavily polluted areas.

To be fair to Tower Hamlets Council our understanding is that they had no choice as to where the new school would be built, this decision was taken by a Schools Inspector in the Department of Education. (We think because we have not seen documentary evidence to confirm it but Moley is still digging away to find out.)

Mulberry Academy London Dock school will be built on site behind hoardings on The Highway.

Of course ‘where the new school would be built’ could mean various things. It could mean the Schools Inspector told the Council that Berkeley Group, the developer of the London Dock complex had to reserve a certain amount of land for the school anywhere it saw fit.

Or it could mean Berkeley were told they had to put aside that exact piece of land right next to The Highway.

Or something in between.

What is Passivhaus design?

Either way when the London Dock school is built children will need to get to it and in many cases that will mean walking along The Highway and they will be inhaling copious amounts of traffic pollution into their young lungs at every step. Some may access the school via Pennington Street which sounds a better and healthier idea.

Tower Hamlets Council is might proud that the school is being built using the Passivhaus design principle which is ‘ a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level. “

Passivhaus building in USA (not Tower Hamlets if you had not guessed)

LW knows nothing about passivhaus apart from what we have discovered in an hour’s research this morning but we were surprised that nowhere in the literature we read (see below for links) was passivhaus specifically promoted as a means of reducing pollution.

Of course the use of triple glazed windows and a building structure that is ‘extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air’ will mean that the nasty stuff outside will have a very hard time getting in but it seems – and LW is completely open to being correct on this by a subject matter expert – that the primary design purpose of passivhaus is energy efficiency. The reduction of pollution is a secondary benefit.

A guide to passive house principles

Pete Deininger from the Peter Breck Life Group at eXp Realty in Breckenridge, Colorado, has been in touch and has pointed us towards their very useful guide to passive housing, What is a Passive House? Understanding the Principles Behind This Sustainable Housing Movement

Pete says he has found there’s a lot of confusion/misconceptions around the concept of passive housing so has created this resource to attempt to demystify passive houses somewhat for those who are new to the idea. Many thanks to Pete for this.

Worst. PR. Photographs. Ever.

The official Tower Hamlets / Mulberry Academy press release (accompanied by two PR photographs so amazingly bad as to be not be reproducible) says this about passivhaus:

“The school will be housed in a flagship building that deals with the effects of pollution through pioneering ‘passivhaus’ innovation. Passivhaus is the leading international design standard guaranteeing low energy performance and exceptional internal air quality.”

During our research we found the photograph below published by bere architects of passivhaus air filters in London after less than four months use.

According to bere ‘After less than four months these pollen filters, from one of our heat recovery ventilation units, have trapped so much London air pollution that they need changing for fresh filters. By comparison, in a German city, where urban air quality is very much better, the same filters need changing only once a year.’

Air filter comparison – air filter on right after four months use in London needs replacing. In a German city same filter would last for a year. Photo: bere architects

Another good reason to move to Germany as if the looming disaster that is Brexit was not good enough.

Related Internet Links

LW Comment

We have not mentioned the issue of parents dropping their children off at London Dock school. This would be illegal on The Highway (not that small details like that ever stopped parents parking where they like) so presumably would only be allowed in Pennington Street. And no we are not going into the issues that raises.

Or the issue of parents and pupils crossing The Highway

Or a zillion other things. Laters.

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