Walk into the Wolseley Sustainable Building Center in Leamington Spa and you would be forgiven for thinking the builders had just nipped out for a quick lunchbreak.
Walls have been left bare, the underfloor heating is on display and holes in the wall reveal the insulation underneath – it doesn’t look much like a completed building.
But look a little closer and the unfinished details reveal the latest technologies in sustainable building products and construction methods.
Wolseley’s £3.2 million 6,800 sq ft Sustainable Building Center is designed to be a showcase for green construction, the first of its kind in the UK.
Wolseley UK managing director Nigel Sibley said: “This major initiative provides a new focus for our role in the promotion of sustainable design and construction, one which we are perfectly placed to lead, as the UK’s leading distributor of building materials.
“It also provides a vehicle for impartial advice, which research indicates our customers need, and will foster an acceptance of sustainable products and approaches at every level.”
The centre, which features 170 types of green construction products, aims to show the products in their working environment, providing visitors with data on the benefits of the latest materials and construction methods.
For example, renewable energy generators such as solar panels come with a display showing the amount of power they are generating.
Wolseley head of sustainability Tim Pollard said: “We are trying to deliver practical and sustainable solutions that are available today – it’s not about bleeding edge technology but about practical products.”
Sustainable products run from below the ground to the roof, including drainage, sub-structure, walls, roofs, finishes, floors, windows, heating and ventilation, lighting and landscaping.
A series of “cutaways” inside the building showcase the products, revealing items like natural insulation and underfloor heating powered by a ground source heat pump.
Visitors arrive through the front doors into “the Street,” a light and airy corridor dividing the two halves of the building, the lightweight timber framed wing and the heavyweight concrete wing.
Immediately to the left is the 40-seat theatre, where the walls are made of Sasmox and Claytec, a product derived from clay hessian and reeds, and finished with low VOC paint.
Micronal Smartboard, a phase change material installed in the ceiling of the theatre and meeting room, minimises the need for mechanical cooling and maintains a comfortable temperature.Heat for the building is generated sustainably, supplied by a ground source heat pump and high efficiency condensing boiler, a biomass boiler and two solar thermal systems.
The building’s design provides natural ventilation using a combination of opening vents and roof-mounted passive stack ventilation devices.
Lighting is provided by compact fluorescent lamps and LED technology, integrating motion and daylight sensors to provide light only when necessary.
The centre is topped by a natural sedum roof and a standing seam zinc-coated roof and rainwater falling on the zinc coated-roof is channelled into a rainwater harvesting tank and used for flushing toilets. Since its launch in April, the centre has received an overwhelming amount of interest from the building industry.