Big Ben Going Green?

The world’s most famous clock, Big Ben, might become green (environmentally green that is). In an effort to cut Parliament’s carbon footprint, the House of Commons has started a new energy commitment. Last month the leaders of the commitment were open to energy efficient suggestions. A spokesperson said, “Throughout February, parliamentary pass-holders were encouraged to support Parliament’s energy commitment by submitting ideas on how Parliament could save energy.”

One idea that has gained traction is to install solar panels on Ben’s famous face. Sir Robert Rogers, Clerk of the House of Commons, is now advocating Ben’s new makeover as a method to meet Parliament’s goal of improving its energy efficiency 34% by 2020. As a former resident of London, I can tell you that Big Ben’s four faces are large enough for a double-decker bus to drive through (that fact came up often). If a coach, as they say, can fit through them, there’s certainly enough room for several solar panels.

Other suggestions for energy efficiency include insulating the Palace of Westminster’s roof with sheep’s wool. According to a Leeds University trial, sheep’s wool would help reduce heat loss and guard against leaks. The Houses of Parliament plan to install solar panels on some flat roofs as part of a renovation project to repair the building next year. The Parliament spokesperson said, “The project is expected to ensure that the roof remains serviceable for another 150 years, and will give us the opportunity to improve our environmental performance ratings and fire safety systems.”

Built in 1859, Big Ben could use a makeover. Already, the House has increased recycling, reduced water waste and replaced lights with LED bulbs, so why not give Ben a little facelift too? Isn’t it about time?


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