design sustainability technology

Building of the week: WWF’s Living Planet Centre

If you’re an environmental charity and you’re commissioning a new office, you’re going to want to live up to your own standards and deliver a low-impact, highly efficient building. That’s the challenge WWF faced with their new offices in Woking, which incorporates a wide range of sustainable construction technologies.

To reduce the use of steel and concrete, which are CO2 intensive materials, they chose a wood beam roof. It is topped with solar panels and four wind cowls – large vents that naturally draw warm air out of the building and cool it in the summer. Automated solar shades also keep the building cool by helping to reduce solar gain.

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In winter, the building relies on its ground source heat pumps. 20 boreholes, each 100m deep, take advantage of constant underground temperatures to provide renewable heat.

Rainwater is collected and used for flushing toilets and watering plants. Greywater is also reused from staff showers and wash basins. Rainwater also feeds a wetlands area next to the building, created to encourage biodiversity.

The attention to detail continues inside, with FSC certified furniture, and lights that automatically switch off when people leave a room. The carpets are 100% recycled.

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Unusually, the whole building is elevated and built on top of a council car park. The car park had to be retained and is still in use, an intelligent land use idea that others might want to learn from. WWF staff are encouraged not to drive mind you. The site was chosen for its proximity to the station, and generous bike storage space is laid on.

WWF’s Living Planet Centre is open to the public should you wish to go and see for yourself.

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