Used French Fry Oil Fuels London Offices as Buildings Go Green

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s office above Charing Cross railway station in London is cooled, heated and fueled by an unlikely source: used cooking oil.

The system, which helped the property become the greenest building in the U.K. capital, uses oil refined less than two miles away at London Bridge. It also helps prevent an invisible problem: “fatbergs” formed when oils dumped in drains and pipes congeal with baby wipes and diapers and block the city’s sewers.

UPdated London-BREEAM-Map

“We’re using London’s waste to fuel a London office building,” said Jon Barnes, head of building at PwC. The system contributed toward a one-third reduction in electricity costs after a two-year refurbishment of the One Embankment Place office building that finished last year.

One Embankment Place beat two buildings at Pancras Square, part of the wider Kings Cross development where Google Inc. plans to construct workspace, to become London’s greenest building, property data analytics firm GeoPhy said Thursday.

The fourth-highest ranked building was 7 More London Riverside, an office property close to the River Thames that’s also occupied by PwC. St Martins, the U.K.-based real estate investment firm of Kuwait’s government, owns the office block, according to PwC spokeswoman Lynn Hunter.

Brent borough council’s headquarters, near England soccer’s Wembley Stadium, ranked fifth in part because of its on-site liquid biofuel combined cooling, heat and power system.

The weighted London average for carbon dioxide emissions from commercial buildings in London is about 12.5 kilograms a square foot, according to Teun van den Dries, co-founder and chief executive of GeoPhy. “The best performing buildings have a footprint that is about 60 percent lower,” he said.

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