Sustainable Development in Action – New Lake District National Park Office

Green Build 2014 Event – Sustainable Development in Action – New Lake District National Park Office

Old Station Yard, Threlkeld Quarry, Keswick, CA12 4TT

The visit comprised a background talk to the building and a tour around it to see its features. The visit was led by Martin Sleath – Assistant Surveyor with the LDNPA

Background to the build                  

The Northern Park Management team needed new premises, and wanted to integrate the rangers with the field team who already had a depot at the site, where equipment such as stiles and gates are made.

They wanted a space to accommodate around 20 staff, and after looking at various options in and around the Keswick area, they decided that building a new office on land already owned by the park at the depot site was the best solution.

The build needed to take into account a condition of the initial purchase of the land that the old railway route from Penrith to Keswick needed to remain available for future sustainable transport use. As the site was formerly a station, no foundations could be built on where the track had been, and this runs directly East West through the site. The current workshop on the site was to be updated and also be connected in some way to the new offices to unite the ranger and field teams.

The build also had to fit with the National Park’s ethics of sustainability, the heritage of the site and in keeping with adjoining buildings. Therefore, a building design more akin to a workshop building then a high tech office building was developed. The site is also a former industrial site, so land contamination issues had to be considered.

The building was commissioned in June 2013  and was built by May 2014. The design was undertaken by Green Design Group  and the build by Colin Briscoe Construction. The heating system was installed by Barden Energy and the solar PV panels by RJ Solar. The cost was in the region of £712k.

Featured technologies and energy measures

The building spec included:

  • high levels of insulation
  • maximisation of natural light through a north facing roof light system, white walls and large windows along each side of the property
  • auto control lighting with proportional lighting – in the main office area, there are lights approximately above each works station. They are linked to sensors that detect movement and the amount of light reflecting from the surfaces. The lights switch on with light levels are low and someone is present, and each one can be individually altered in line with the user’s needs.
  • a 40kW Herz} wood chip biomass heating system for both the office and workshop changing rooms
  • a roof top solar panel array
  • double glazed windows, with extra retro-reflective treatment to minimise heat loss
  • video conferencing facilities
  • a small, medium and large meeting space – achieved by splitting a large meeting room with folding panels, saving space in the building footprint
  • decent staff lunch break facilities
  • low water bathroom facilities
  • swift nesting boxes
  • LED lampposts and low level lighting for car parking and outdoor areas. These are on a timer, so not in use when office is closed?
  • Cycle parking and electric bike and car charging point (currently awaiting install)

The building is slate roofed and cedar clad with stonework facing details added to link to the existing workshop building. A covered porch area connects the two buildings, and the workshop area was rejigged so that the office and changing areas were nearer to the new office and its facilities.

Whilst excavating the outdoor space, some old railway line equipment was found. This has now been exposed and partially restored and there are plans to make this a feature of the outdoor seating area and potentially put up an interpretation board about the site.

Lessons Learnt

Grey water recycling was considered at the site, but this was ruled out as the energy used to pump it from a grey water system would have been more than the carbon saved.

People want differing degrees of control over their temperature and lighting, so there needs to be compromise in an open plan office.

Whilst large smooth walls and high ceilings reflect light, they also bounce sound around, providing some acoustic problems in a busy office environment. This will be looked at going forward with canvas picture panels and sound insulation.

Initially all sustainability measures were considered for the building, but each was subjected to careful analysis to ensure it would make a genuine contribution to carbon reduction rather than just being included for the sake of it. The extra capital cost of those sustainability measures chosen were justified in terms of pay-back time.