UK’s Greenest Ever Commercial Building Completes
The building features a number of ‘world-firsts’, including the use of prefabricated and vertically hung straw thatch panel cassettes, which have been used to clad the building. The straw was sourced locally, to fill timber cassette modules off-site in barns across Norfolk. The prefabricated thatch cassette panels were erected onto the façade of the building, creating a striking, and highly innovative sustainable envelope.
Contributing to the building’s low carbon environmental credentials is the Corsican Pine stud work, locally sourced from Thetford Forest, situated 30 miles from the site. Working closely with Cygnum Timber Frame, The Forestry Commission and Thomson Saw Mill, the design and construction teams worked tirelessly to prove the suitability of the timber, generally not used in construction, for structural elements of the building.
The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia was developed by the Adapt Low Carbon Group and delivered by Morgan Sindall plc, with a team including Churchman Landscape Architects. By placing academic and commercial users side by side, the hope is that the Centre will foster innovation and create new supply chains.
Gavin Napper, Morgan Sindall area director, said: “This is a building which is deeply rooted in its surroundings. Our team’s commitment to using indigenous materials, like reed, clay, chalk and hemp, coupled with its focus on utilising local suppliers, contractors and craftspeople, gives the building a real sense of identity and enhances its connection to Norfolk. It’s been great to be able to harness these talents, skills, and products and merge them with the most current sustainable technologies and techniques to create this truly remarkable building which will play a valuable role in driving forward innovation in the region.”
Ben Humphries, Director of Architype and Client Supervisor, said: “We have been delighted to be involved in this collaborative, ground-breaking Passivhaus project. Visionary in its brief, we believe we have achieved a building that sets new benchmarks not only for the university but also the wider construction industry. With an on-going soft landings programme and three years of post-occupancy evaluation to come, we look forward to optimising the building performance for Adapt and the University.”
The embodied carbon of the building has been calculated to be 440kg/CO2/sqm across the 100-year life cycle. This equates to a quarter of the lifetime emissions of a conventionally constructed university building of equal size and scale. Helping to achieve this is a recycled sub-base from a local demolition project and a 70% ground granulated blast furnace mix (GGBS) as a cement replacement for the building’s ground floor slab.
On target to achieve Passivhaus with a final airtightness test of 0.21ach@50pascals, the building also features 480m2 solar panels, which are predicted to generate 43.58 MWh in the first year.