ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING:Treasury powers ahead with eco city plan

IRELAND'S LARGEST property developer, Treasury Holdings, seems poised to become a world-leading developer of eco cities as concerns grow about how the world's increasingly urban population can become greener and more self-sufficient.

The company hopes to restore the iconic image of London's Battersea Power Station, with plans to generate clean power there and maximise the use of natural solar ventilation as part of a zero carbon €5 billion development.

Alongside the existing power station there will be a new landmark building designed by renowned New York-based architect Rafael Vinoly.

The project would build on the expertise the developer is gaining at its eco city development at Dongtan, near the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai and in the Colombian capital of Bogota, where Treasury plans to build a €1 billion eco city.

It will be the cleanest and greenest building in London through innovative use of natural ventilation, featuring a spectacular 300-metre high chimney and 'eco dome', which will dramatically reduce the development's carbon emissions. It will also incorporate a combined heat and power plant using sources such as sustainable biofuels, waste and other renewables.

Constructed from high-strength material, similar to that used in Britain's landmark Eden project, the chimney will emit only hot air and water vapour.

This contrasts with the old, polluting image of the power station, which emitted 500 tonnes of CO2 and 14 tonnes of sulphur dioxide every hour at the peak of its operational life when it produced a fifth of London's power.

The 38-acre development will eliminate the need for air conditioning in many of its buildings. "We envisage that we could have the first grade-A sustainable timber office building and that residential and office space might include green roof gardens with trees, Mediterranean plants and perhaps mini-allotments," said Rob Tincknell, managing director of Treasury Holdings UK.

"Our development will enhance London's reputation as a leading global city."


ENERGY: AS IRELAND has switched over to a car tax system based on CO2 emissions, a British company has just announced it is turning an iconic and fuel-thirsty 4x4 vehicle all-electric.

The Range Rover - liked by yummy mummies and wealthy entrepreneurs, and abhorred by some environmentalists in equal measure - will be re-engineered and the engine replaced with a battery, electric motor and drivetrain.

Chief executive of UK start-up Liberty Electric, Barry Shrier, a former managing director of Deutsche Bank, is investing £30 million (€37.9 million) in the venture. The company claims it will produce about 100 electric vehicles this year, and that it has a full order book until April 2009. "People are interested in electric cars, but they don't want quadricycles. They want vehicles that look and drive like standard cars, which is why we've selected the Range Rover as our flagship vehicle," says Shrier. Liberty claims the Range Rovers will boast a 200-mile range on a single charge and will also feature a fast-charge option which will recharge batteries in 10 minutes.

Wine sail ahoy

WIND POWER:OIL PRICES at an all-time high and increasing concerns about the carbon footprint of our imports have led a French wine maker to deliver its first shipment of wine to Ireland using a 108-year-old sailing ship.

A schooner belonging to French shipping company, Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile (CMTV), is due to arrive into Dublin on July 25th carrying a "green" shipment of more than 12,000 bottles of wine. The company has calculated that each bottle will save 138.9 grammes of carbon emissions compared to conventional, oil-fuelled shipping practices.

Frederic Albert, president of Fair Wind Wine, the group of wine makers using the CTMV sailing ships, said

that the use of chartered sailing ships and traditional trade routes represented a "modern and innovative solution to reduce CO2 emissions".

Wanted: green advisers

DEVELOPING ECO-EXPERTISE:NEW ROLES that will demand eco-expertise alongside traditional skills are beginning to open up in Ireland.

One example of this is the recent appointment of an environmental economist as a special adviser to the Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Dr Peter Clinch, who has been the Jean Monnet Professor of Environmental Policy at UCD since 2003, will be helping the Government meet its climate change targets while also helping maintain economic growth.

Another UCD-based environmental economist, Professor Frank Convery, also advises the Government, while a graduate of Professor Convery's school recently took up an influential role at Britain's Treasury in London.

These kinds of green expertise are becoming further sought-after in service sectors such as law and accountancy, where new business opportunities lie in areas such as renewable energy and carbon accounting.

However, entrepreneur Declan Murphy and well-known businessman Bill Cullen - co-founders of The Ecology Foundation, a Dublin-based organisation that helps businesses respond to climate change - believe the nation needs to go a step further.

Although a number of universities here have courses in areas such as renewable energy, among the many other measures needed to adapt for the future, Ireland needs a green business school to provide skilled graduates in these areas, they argue.