Creative energy

Annette Lamley undertakes an energy audit at Spike Island, internationally acclaimed art space

16 July 2015

We conducted an energy audit of Spike Island to identify and prioritise some ways to improve their environmental performance, cut utility bills and make their unique working environment more comfortable.

The Bristol-based, internationally recognised, contemporary art centre was built in the 1960s as a tea packing plant for Brooke Bond. Its industrial design and change of use add up to a very interesting space, with lots of challenges as well as opportunities to save energy.

“Spike Island is a bit of a Bristol institution and the building itself is really interesting, so it was great to have the opportunity to work with them and to help them make the first step towards cutting their energy use”  – Annette Lamley from CSE's technical team, who spent an afternoon at the centre undertaking the audit and learning about how the building is used.

Spike Island is home to a gallery, café and working space for artists and designers. The multiuse nature of the building makes temperature control an important feature. As it stands, some areas of the building are hard to heat in winter and others overheat in summer. With their creative hats on, Spike Island expressed an interest in more imaginative ways to improve thermal performance, such as installing a green roof – one that's partially or completely covered with vegetation.

Other possible changes include replacing their boiler, upgrading the lighting system to include daylight sensors where there are high levels of natural daylight (there are roof lights aplenty), and changing roller doors for an insulated alternative.

Addressing their energy use is part of the centre’s wider Environmental Action Plan. They’ve received support from the Arts Council to investigate their options and will use the energy audit as part of an application for Arts Council funding to improve the energy efficiency of the building.

CSE’s relationship with Spike Island dates back to 2008, when we purchased a series of artworks for our new offices. All the artists were from Spike Island and Lucy Byatt, director of the centre at the time, kindly helped with their selection.

You can read more about the pieces, which continue to brighten our walls, in this download.

Images: Spike Island frontage photos by Stuart Whipps; gallery photo by Matt Gibson, reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

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