Bramall Learning Centre, Harlow Carr, Harrogate

Bramall Learning Centre, Harlow Carr, Harrogate

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Royal Horticultural Society

William Birch was awarded this project to construct a new Learning Centre at the prestigious Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. The highly bespoke building is located within the existing visitor gardens and included significant sustainable and BREEAM ‘excellent’ principles and an extensive Teaching Garden. Building was designed to be carbon neutral with a three-dimensional glulam/sedum roof on feature timber and steel columns combined with a high quality exposed reinforced concrete structure.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) wanted a new carbon neutral facility using systems, building processes and materials that would inspire visitors and be a flagship of sustainability for the RHS and for Yorkshire. It had to be stylish, attractive and inspirational but also had to blend into the existing landscape. As well as functioning as an educational environment for children, it would accommodate the RHS' large, rare collection of horticultural books and be a valuable resource to adults, thereby increasing visitor numbers to the garden. In line with the RHS' objectives, the project team met these objectives, achieved the highest BREEAM rated bespoke building in the UK with a score of 88.51 and in conjunction with the design team we reduced the project tender cost by 15% to meet the clients demanding budget.
Some of the green credentials included:

  • A high level of insulation
  • Low temperature fluctuation due to the building’s positioning
  • Maximum solar gain from the building’s orientation and shape
  • Generation of power and heat from a wind turbine and ground source heat pump
  • Natural ventilation system
  • Maximum use of low energy materials in construction

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Harlow Carr Gardens are a very busy attraction. Our project did not interrupt the normal safe operation of the Gardens despite the new building bounding the main visitors’ car park. We devised an extensive arrangement and temporary access provision for access and egress.

Regular weekly liaison meetings were conducted with specific attraction personnel to ensure a thorough understanding of future events and site operations; allowing sufficient opportunity to implement mitigation measures against the potential for interruption. As part of our education and visitor initiatives we had regular site visits by groups of students (infant to college) and professional bodies to watch and learn from the construction of this flagship sustainable building project.

Considerate Constructors Scheme

Considerable effort was invested under the Considerate Constructors banner to ensure that our construction operations, boundary fencing, plant movements and deliveries had minimal impact and disturbance on the facilities staff and visitors. Indeed our success at this was rewarded by the site manager receiving a regional award for the high standards of consideration he maintained throughout the life of the project. The site was particularly commended for the high standards reached in the categories of: Considerate; Environment; Cleanliness; Neighbour; Safe; Responsible; Accountable, and for its exceptional achievements in the category of Respectful. In the words of the judges, “This site was a credit to William Birch & Sons Ltd and to the site team.”

Measures taken to help achieve the maximum BREEAM score;

Like the ‘Sustainability & Enterprise Centre’ in Bradford the Bramall Centre has provided a learning curve in achieving a high BREEAM score through the provision of detailed analysis of all processes, materials, suppliers and engineering plans. Where possible, technologies have been designed to be visible to all visitors, and explanations of technologies are provided in the building and garden.

The commitment to the CCS (detailed above) contributed to the high score as did our responsible purchasing of materials. Other measures included;

  • Monitoring CO2 emissions from site activities and setting a target based upon the Constructing Excellence KPI Target of 300 kgCO2 / £100k the CO2
  • Monitoring all commercial vehicles to the site
  • Recording water consumption arising from site activities for comparison with the Target Water Consumption based upon the Constructing Excellence KPI Target of 9 Cu Metres / £100k for each month of the Contract
  • Control of dust from construction operations through
  • Minimising water pollution through
  • Ensuring that our Environmental sourcing of material policy was adhered to including the use of FSC timber with full chain of custody
Sustainability Project of the Year (up to £10m) RIBA White Rose Sustainability Award 2010 RIBA White Rose Bronze Architecture 2010 Green Apple Gold Award for Education & Training Category 2010 Yorkshire and Humber Best Practice Construction Legacy Award 2010 Considerate Constructors’ Bronze Award 2010

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