Seeder Event: The Nuts and Bolts of Rooftop Solar

Opportunities, Challenges and Future of rooftop solar on commercial and industrial buildings in China.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Seeder Clean Energy are delighted to invite you to a discussion on the latest development in the solar industry on Saturday, July 16th.

Date: July 16th, 2016

Time: 10:30 am-12:45 pm

Venue: Naked Hub

1237 Fuxing Middle Road, Floor 3, Xuhui, Shanghai, 200030


Organizers: Urban Land Institute & Seeder Clean Energy

In this event, solar industry experts and relevant stakeholders will share their insights on the opportunities, challenges, and the future of rooftop solar for China’s commercial and industrial buildings. Huatian Xu from Clean Energy Associates and Johnny Browaeys from Seeder Clean Energy will discuss their perspectives on market dynamics, and Jonathan McCall and Ross Allan will join the speakers in a panel discussion to provide additional perspecitves on the real estate side.


Huatian Xu,

Technology and Quality Assurance Manager, Clean Energy Associates

Johnny Browaeys

Co-Founder and Chairman, Seeder Clean Energy

Jonathan McCall

Associate Director, Capital Markets of e-Shang Redwood

Ross Allan

Director of Business Administration and Sustainability Leader

at Dulwich College


10:30am – 11:00am

Registration and Networking

11:00am – 11:15am


11:15am – 11:30am

What to look for in a good solar project by Huatian Xu

11:30am – 11:45am

Policy & Savings

11:45am – 12:00pm

How to scale rooftop solar by Johnny Browaeys

12:00pm – 12:30pm

Panel Discussion with Ross Allan and Jonathan McCall

12:30pm – 12:45pm


Light refreshments will be served.

This is a free event open to ULI members and invited guests, RSVP is required as space is limited.

To register, please scan the below QR code, click read more , or email us at [email protected]

Lend Lease Rolls CO2 Back to Pre-climate Change Levels

Article by Raefer Willis, originally published on LinkedIn 

For over 650,000 years, atmospheric CO2 has never risen beyond 300ppm. Yet, in a short 65 years global levels have escalated to a frightening 400ppm and catalyzed climate change. These levels continue to rise rapidly everywhere… except inside Lend Lease’s Shanghai Headquarters. There, morning CO2 typically hovers around 280 ppm: levels unseen for over 150 years.

As a pilot project undergoing RESET™ certification, the office began tracking indoor air quality (IAQ) across 5 health parameters (see below) shortly after completion. The results are changing how we view the contribution of interior spaces to environmental regeneration.

The Lend Lease office checks all the boxes in terms of being a modern ‘green’ office: from access to natural light through to integrated recycling stations. It is also beautifully designed, especially in terms of artificial lighting, where the majority of lights were removed from the ceiling and brought closer to the occupants by using canopy like fixtures between the workstations.

Yet what truly sets the office apart is its integration and use of plants as machines for tempering indoor air quality. Here, Lend Lease pursued the oft quoted but rarely implemented figure of 8 plants per person, established by Dr. Wolverton during his research for NASA. The visual result is a layering of plants neatly arrayed atop filing cabinets and workspace dividers, set against green walls that cover most of the structural columns throughout the office.

Whereas green walls have become ‘de rigeur’ in most certified projects over the past few years, they are rarely integrated into work spaces (mostly being reserved for atriums and lobbies) and their performance is almost never quantified. In this case, performance is tracked minute by minute and reported in real-time to the staff’s smart phones as well as a dynamic certification plaque for staff and visitors alike

Acting as living machines, plants are only effective when they are healthy and thriving. In a recent tour of the office Steve Willet, Managing Director of Lend Lease joked, “The plants are definitely thriving. If the gardeners weren’t in here every week trimming the foliage we would be working in the Amazon.”

The numbers reflect this. Over the summer, morning CO2 levels were typically below 300 ppm: levels that pre-date climate change. What’s best is that the plants have barely even settled in and are still looking a bit sparse: they should be performing even more in 3-6 months. During office hours the levels are currently well within the 700 ppm limit for healthy interiors. This is in stark contrast to the average Shanghai office which hovers between 1200 and 1800ppm.

Although the office had slightly elevated levels of VOCs at the onset, these were rapidly brought within limits and now are typically below 0.1 ug/m3 (the health limit is 0.45). Many office interiors are 2-10 times above health limits even 1 year after completion.

Particulate matter, mostly handled by filters added to the fresh air system, averages below 35ppm, the health limit set by the EPA for PM2.5. All combined, these results make the Lend Lease office one of the healthiest in Shanghai.

The last remaining challenge in terms of IAQ is humidity. Like most buildings in Shanghai the K.Wah Center (in which the Lend Lease office is located) does not have a dehumidification system. As a result indoor humidity levels are typically identical to outdoor levels. In Shanghai, this means well over 75%. Lend Lease has identified this as an opportunity to increase comfort while reducing energy consumption within their own buildings: dehumidification requires less energy than heating and cooling per degree of perceived temperature. In other words, by lowering humidity levels 30-50%, interior temperatures can made warmer in summer and cooler in winter while achieving the same comfort level, resulting in potentially significant energy savings.

“Lend Lease is a global leader in health and sustainability,” says Willet. “In China, this will mean being able to offer clean air to our clients while further reducing energy consumption. In terms of research, we need to lead by example and prove results with hard data.”

In this case the data is not only excellent but it changes the paradigm for interior spaces. Consider for a moment that on a bad day the healthiest outdoor air in Shanghai is probably right next to the Lend Lease exhaust.
Up until now the focus for green interiors has been about making them less bad. Creating an interior with a positive environmental footprint has been viewed as virtually impossible. The Lend Lease office is challenging this notion and making us wonder how interiors can be used as machines for cleaning outdoor air. When the ‘waste’ air from a building is cleaner than the incoming air you know you’re onto something good.

All photos by Marković Nebojša

More about this project.

Growing our way out of climate change by building with hemp and wood fibre

Article by Mike Lawrence

From domestic housing to the Science Museum, plant-based construction materials cut reliance on scarce resources and build healthy, efficient and zero carbon buildings

How can buildings help with climate change? It’s all about renewables and “sequestered carbon”.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ 2010 report on Low Carbon Construction concluded that construction was responsible for around 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is almost 47% of the UK’s total. Of this, around 50m tonnes is embedded in the fabric of buildings.

Making one tonne of steel emits 1.46 tonnes of CO2 and 198kg of CO2 is emitted make one tonne of reinforced concrete. One square metre of timber framed, hemp-lime wall (weighing 120kg), after allowing for the energy cost of transporting and assembling the materials actually stores 35.5kg of CO2.

If we can convert plants into building materials, we are in a win-win situation. Plants use the energy of the sun to convert atmospheric CO2 and water into hydrocarbons – the material from which plants are made.

The plant acts as a carbon store, sequestering (absorbing) atmospheric CO2 for as long as the plant continues to exist. This CO2 is only re-released when the material is composted or burnt, and the great thing is that through replanting it you can re-absorb this CO2 annually, in the case of straw or hemp, or every decade or so in the case of timber, rather than the 300m years that it takes to recycle coal or oil.

Secondly, plant based materials can be used to make high performing building envelopes, protecting against external weather and making a building more comfortable, healthy and energy efficient to live in.

Not only can they be used as insulation materials, displacing oil-based alternatives such as polyurethane foam, but they also interact with the internal environment in a way that inorganic materials just can’t do.

This is because they are “vapour active”. Insulating materials such as hemp-lime, hemp fibre and wood fibre are capable of absorbing and releasing water vapour. This is doubly effective, because not only can they act as a buffer to humidity (taking moisture out of the air), but they also stabilise a building’s internal temperature much better through latent heat effects (energy consumed and released during evaporation and condensation within the pores of the material).

To build using hemp, the woody core or shiv of the industrial hemp plant is mixed with a specially developed lime-based binder. Factory-constructed panels are pre-dried and when assembled in a timber frame building, the hemp shiv traps air in the walls, providing a strong barrier to heat loss. The hemp itself is porous, meaning the walls are well insulated while the lime-based binder sticks together and protects the hemp, making the building material resistant to fire and decay. The industrial hemp plant takes in carbon dioxide as it grows and the lime render absorbs even more of the climate change gas. Hemp-lime buildings have an extremely low carbon footprint.

Building with hemp lime

Building with hemp lime. Photograph: University of Bath

In this way bio-based materials can be used to construct “zero carbon” buildings, where the materials have absorbed more CO2 than is consumed during construction. By applying PassivHaus principles (the voluntary industry standard for low-carbon design) to bio-based buildings, a building’s energy use once inhabited can also be reduced to minimal levels. This is a true “fabric first” approach, where the fabric of buildings passively manages energy consumption, rather than purely relying on renewables such as solar panels and ground source heating systems, which have a more limited life-span and the potential for failure.

I worked on a project recently for the Science Museum to reduce the high energy cost of archival storage. They needed to have large enclosures kept at a steady humidity and temperature to ensure that items ranging from the first edition of Newton’s Principia through to horse drawn carriages and even Daleks do not deteriorate. Normally this uses energy intensive air conditioning systems.

The three-storey archival store that the Science Museum built in 2012 using a hemp-lime envelope was so effective that they switched off all heating, cooling, and humidity control for over a year, maintaining steadier conditions than in their traditionally equipped stores, reducing emissions while saving a huge amount of energy.

Improved bio-based materials can also passively improve the internal air quality of buildings by interacting with airborne pollutants, removing them from the building. The new HIVE building – a £1m project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – has been designed as a platform for research projects into this kind of sustainable construction. The HIVE has a purpose-built flood cell, which will also support research into creating buildings and building materials that are more flood-resilient – a valuable resource in these times of climate change induced adverse weather conditions.

Hive building

The Hive building. Photograph: University of Bath

Industry and government must also embrace the opportunities presented by bio-based construction materials to reduce emissions. Domestic housing is a key part of this. Good quality housing can be built out of structural timber with a bio-based insulating envelope using straw; hemp-lime, or other systems using wood fibre or other cellulose fibres.

With domestic housing high on the government’s agenda, it is time the construction industry recognised the economic and environmental benefits of bio-based construction materials and became less reliant on depleting resources including oil and steel.

This article was originally published in The Guardian 

Nine creative use for shipping containers

1. Firm: NL Architects
Project: Barneveld Noord Bus Station, Netherlands
Standout: The Dutch firm used four shipping containers to construct a bold structure—complete with a waiting area and cafe—designed to make travel less stressful.

2. Firm: GAD Architecture
Project: Trump Cadde, Istanbul
Standout: Located in the Trump Towers Mall, this roof-terrace market redefines the notion of a food court. Twenty-five units house food vendors and shops, creating an urban interpretation of the city’s legendary bazaars.

3. Firm: distill studio
Project: The Box Office, Providence, Rhode Island
Standout: Twelve colorful office and studio spaces were created using 35 recycled containers on the site of an abandoned lumber yard in the Olneyville neighborhood. The efficient building uses just 25% of the energy consumed by a conventional office building.

4. Firm: Inhouse
Project: Ninety9Cents, Capetown, South Africa
Standout: The advertising agency’s double-decker reception area references the nearby harbor and provides a vibrant and comfortable lounge for clients.

5. Firm: North Arrow Studio and Hendley | Knowles Design Studio
Project: Container Bar, Austin, Texas
Standout: Seven recycled containers, each with unique interiors, are stacked and arranged around a central courtyard at this new watering hole, located on hip Rainey Street.

6. Firm: bof Architekten
Project: Bharati Antarctic Research Station, Antarctica
Standout: The Hamburg, Germany–based firm utilized 134 cargo containers wrapped in an insulated shell for this self-sufficient facility commissioned by India’s National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research. The building can be disassembled and removed without any impact on the environment.

7. Firm: Envelope A+D
Project: Proxy, San Francisco
Standout: A 25-foot-high vertical conveyor belt is the centerpiece of the Aether Apparel store in Hayes Valley. The building is composed of three 40-foot containers, and is a part of Proxy, a temporary village of shipping containers.

8. Firm: Platoon Cultural Development and Graft Architects
Project: Platoon Kunsthalle
Standout: The global arts and culture organization conceived the three-story structure in the Mitte district as an experimental space to accommodate exhibitions, performances, and events.

9. Firm: Tsai Design Studio
Project: Vissershok Primary School, Cape Town, South Africa
Standout: Located just outside the city in Durbanville, this rural school features a bright refurbished-shipping-container classroom to accommodate 25 five and six-year-old students. A canopy roof protects the building from direct sunlight and an adjacent green wall shields the play area from wind.