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Wolseley win Environmental Award

Builders merchant chain Wolseley UK have won a major environmental award for their Sustainable Building Center.

Wolseley win Environmental Award

The award, for Best Sustainable Construction Project, was part of the edie Environmental Awards, awarded by Europe’s biggest environmental website and online environmental community.

The judges admired the building for being a “Great concept to teach the industry how to do sustainable construction at the same time as selling the products” . It was also described as having “the potential for significant impact and influence on the construction sector”.

A third judge described it as having “broad appeal, showcasing latest technologies for energy effciency uisng innovative materials and recycling.”

Chris Booker, product development manager for sustainable construction at Wolseley, said of the award: “This has been a great team effort and it’s great to have recognition of what we are trying to achieve.”

The award entry case study described the project as:

The £3.2m Sustainable Building Center is a living, interactive centre for decision-makers throughout the construction industry.

The unique building, at Wolseley UK’s headquarters in Leamington Spa, in Warwickshire, enables all those involved in construction – from architects through to jobbing builders – to experience the latest technologies and the widest range of sustainable, energy efficient and recycled building products.

The centre brings together information about 7,000 sustainable products that are available now in 1,800 branches that are part of Wolseley’s network of brands such as Build Center and Plumb Center.

About 170 products and technologies – many of them new to the UK – are also demonstrated at the Sustainable Building Center.

It aims to show, sometimes for the first time, how different products work together in practice.

The £3.2m investment was a calculated risk when agreed in 2005, but it is now seen throughout Wolseley as an inspired initiative given the increased importance of green construction in the intervening years.

It has attracted great interest from some of the UK’s leading developers and property companies, with more than 100 customers booking in visits before it had even opened. The opening itself resulted in major new customers contacting Wolseley.

But its primary purpose is to influence the UK construction industry on sustainable building, and Wolseley hopes it will be a catalyst in converting UK architects, developers and builders to the practical application of sustainability.

The finished building closely reflects the original concept and plan, created by architects Energy Conscious Design, despite the challenges of working with new materials, such as engineered timber and structural concrete. The contribution of SOL Construction (now part of ROK) was key to the project coming in on time and budget. It was built in less than a year.

The site chosen was already owned by Wolseley, as part of an 18-acre brownfield site in south Leamington Spa, which had previously been used by automotive brake manufacturer Automotive Products.

It required extensive demolition and remediation works, but Wolseley also undertook new landscape planting and created new habitats. The site is on a bus route, and is just 15 minutes walk from Leamington train station to encourage sustainable travel.

Wolseley also aimed to make the construction process more sustainable, re-using material left after demolition of the previous building, and using recycled aggregates, sourced from within a 30 mile radius of the site. Many of the products embedded into the building use recycled material, such as Knauf wall panels, Sonnae Chipboard and a floor screed containing recycled glass.

The Sustainable Building Center features many energy efficient products, such as solar, biomass, a ground source heat pump and passive ventilation. Waste was separated on site, and recycled wherever possible and recycling continues now the building is operational.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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