Wolseley UK invited designer Wayne Hemingway to speak at the opening of their Sustainable Building Center, a national showcase for sustainable building products and construction methods.
The 6,800sq ft building is an interactive centre for anyone in the construction industry interested in sustainable products and brings together information about 7,000 sustainable products, all available through Wolseley's 1,800 branch network. The building itself features 170 different types of product from photovoltaics to natural insulation, rainwater harvesting, engineered timber and sustainable drainage.
Nigel Sibley, Wolseley UK managing director, said the £3.2m project was "a calculated risk, but looking at how things have developed over the years, it was one that has paid off.
"We believe what counts as sustainable in the industry today will become commonplace in the next few years and this is a step towards that," he said. "These aren't some sort of one off, Grand Designs-type dreams, these are real, mainstream products that are readily available in our branches."
Wayne Hemingway said that the building is a great way to get people thinking about sustainability, because it shows how design and sustainability can go together. "There's no point just banging on about the environmental benefits and what good it would do for the planet, you need to show people that these products can look good. This is a major step towards sustainability becoming the norm," he said.
"What we have tried to do with this building is deliver practical and pragmatic sustainable solutions that are available today," said Tim Pollard, Wolseley's head of sustainability. "It is a holistic approach, from below the ground to above the roof level and everything in-between."
The SBC, he emphasized, is about products that are fit for purpose and ready to be used. "I believe this is a sea change in the way we're doing things. It has always been my objective to put myself out of a job - to get people thinking about these products as general building materials, not as specialist items."