Brighton sets 'sustainability benchmark' for eco-tourism with i360 opening

The world's first vertical cable car, the British Airways i360, has opened on Brighton's seafront, with the developers "aiming to set a new global benchmark in sustainability".

Photo: The i360 is expected to attract more than 700,000 visitors a year from existing tourists to the city, also bringing 165,000 to 305,000 new visitors. Photo: British Airways i360/Facebook

Photo: The i360 is expected to attract more than 700,000 visitors a year from existing tourists to the city, also bringing 165,000 to 305,000 new visitors. Photo: British Airways i360/Facebook

The city viewing platform, which opened last week, stands 162 meters high, making it the tallest visitor attraction outside of London. The futuristic building incorporates a restaurant, tea room, hospitality rooms and shop, providing 360-degree views of the Sussex coastline and South Downs National Park.

i360’s architects Marks Barfield – who also designed the London Eye – have incorporated a range of innovative design techniques to deliver a new standard for sustainable structures.

A blog post from the i360 developers reads: “The aim is to improve and raise awareness of the area. This means the team will be looking at ways to increase local wildlife habitats and species; develop schemes that help us benefit from environmental resources; educate communities to increase environmental understanding; focus on sustainability issues; promote local sustainable goods and services and develop outdoor health and eco-tourism.”

On-site solutions

Sustainable energy is high on the agenda for i360, with the developers claiming to only use green energy sources as well as energy generated from the viewing pods descent - which will account for 50% of the energy required for the pod’s next ascent. As a result of this on-site generation, the overall energy use of the i360 is less than 1kwh per visitor.

Other sustainability solutions implemented at the site include thermal insulation, low-energy lighting, double-glazing and natural ventilation throughout the structure. During construction, around 5300m3 of shingle had to be removed to embed the base of the tower – that shingle is now being used to restore parts of the local coastline damaged by storms and longshore drift.

British Airways i360 glass viewing pod timelapse from British Airways i360 on Vimeo.

The British Airways i360 also boasts a variety of waste-mitigation solutions, including only serving locally-sourced food in the restaurant, using biodegradable packaging whenever possible and encouraging similar packaging solutions in its supply chain by asking suppliers to deliver goods in reusable containers.

The vertical cable car is also implementing a number of water-saving devices such as low-flow wash basins, water-efficient dishwasher equipment and a food composter that will generate water from waste.

The attraction promises to become a member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme – a not-for-profit organisation whose members are assessed on energy, water and waste efficiency as well as biodiversity and community involvement – in order to train staff specifically to reduce waste and conserve energy resources. Additionally, the i360 will be applying for the ISO 20121 standard, which helps improve sustainability in event-related activities.

A fireworks and lighting display to mark the official opening of the British Airways i360 will take place on Saturday 13 August at 10pm.

Alex Baldwin


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