Projects: The Greenwood Centre's Woodland College

The Greenwood Centre’s Woodland College

Keywords: communityeco build

The GWC is a nationally renowned educational charity, working to promote coppice and green wood crafts, and management of deciduous woodlands. It runs a variety of social forestry courses. We have been involved with various building projects at the GWC since 1995, when we were commissioned to design the Woodland College. This building prioritised use of local timber alongside modern energy efficient timber frame construction. In 2006 the building was extended to form a cafe / shop area and as part of a whole site solution is heated via a hot water main supplied by a small biomass unit. We worked with David Olivier (EAA) as energy consultant on this project.

“we consider the building to be the heart of the Green Wood Centre, and that it epitomises all that we represent, in terms of sustainability, low energy use, its many and varied uses of timber and green wood, and the relaxation people feel when they use the building.” Judy Walker, Director of the Green Wood Centre.

This timber framed building is (still!) one of the most energy efficient in the country. It is a modest classroom and office building, with associated toilets and shower, and store rooms. The classroom contains an innovative pole framed structure which our practice worked on site to build. The college building was completed in 1999.

Other features include:

  • locally sourced and processed timber
  • cellulose insulation
  • on site treatment of sewage using settlement tank, reedbeds and pond
  • low flush wc’s
  • low VOC paints, stains and varnishes

We have also worked for the Trust on eco-renovation of the toilet block, incorporating hot water solar panel system, combined with wood burning stove to heat the toilets and the Trust’s offices.

Woodland College Details

Until we have prepared a downloadable fact sheet, the full design and technical details of the project can be read on the Trust’s web site at: http://www.greenwoodtrust.org.uk/WoodlandCollege.htm

INITIAL CONCEPT

The brief was to design multi purpose spaces and create building using local timber- particularly low grade timber (strong social, economic and environmental arguments for this). With the client group, we expanded the brief to include very high levels of energy efficiency and design with rigorous ecological criteria throughout the building and to involve a local building team.
All products were chosen because in some way they minimised their adverse environmental impact compared to other products. The predominance of timber based products throughout the building illustrates the importance of timber products in sustainable building. Many were made in Scandinavia – but don’t have to be!

COMPLETED DESIGN

The Woodland College is now entering its 21st year of use, and is weathering well. In 2006, an extension to the original building was completed for a new vegetarian cafe and shop selling green wood products. The Woodland Hall is a popular venue, hired out for conferences, meetings, singing workshops, and weddings.

 The building design incorporates the following:

  • Modern balloon timber framing, using home-grown local timber
  • high thermal mass internally with masonry walls and solid floor
  • Full-fill pumped cellulose insulation; 300mm roof and walls
  • 150mm eps floor insulation
  • good air-tightness detailing
  • MVHR ventilation system
  • high quality home-grown timber double glazed windows
  • low water usage sanitaryware
  • On-site reed bed sewage treatment system
  • Clean burning wood stoves for space heating
  • natural linoleum floor finish
  • Natural paints and finishes throughout
  • Passive solar design as key to building’s orientation and position
  • timber-based roof finish

This building was built with a very modest budget, and with the help of volunteers and non-specialist staff labour. Because of this, we designed it with a very simple plan.  However, the investment the Trust made to commission an unusual timber structure and to pursue the theme of energy efficient alongside ecological healthy materials has reaped its benefits.

Through its use by a huge variety of user groups,  it broadens out the debate about sustainability; as Gerwyn Lewis, commissioning director said ” it is a significant building that gave the whole site a new image, and brought the organisation to the world of sustainable development .”

We continue to work with the client group to look for opportunities to monitor its performance; this is currently being investigated to maintain the Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

BUILDING PERFORMANCE

Peak space heating loads for the building = 5 kW

‘U’ Values W/m2k     External walls 0.16 Ground floor 0.17 Roof 0.13 Vertical windows 1.5 Roof lights 2.0 External doors 0.7 Air infiltration assumed 0.34 air changes per hour; ventilation rate 0.34. Compared to a standard new building that meets the building regulation standards, the insulation levels here are more than 2.5 times higher.Overall, a 70% reduction in  total energy demand (compared to a conventional building) should be possible and an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions (in part due to the use of wood as a heating fuel).

Heat Storage

The internal walls (including the two-storey firewall) are built using dense concrete blocks in order to store heat gained during warmer periods and remain warm into periods of colder weather. the walls act in much the same way as a storage radiator and help maintain temperatures inside the building when temperatures are rising and falling outside.

 

All our portfolio projects

Garway Community Centre

Garway Community Centre The rural Herefordshire village of Garway is busy planning for a sustainable future, with construction of a new, Passivhaus certified community centre. It has taken many years’ development, but a successful bid to Big Lottery Fund in 2016 has made the project a reality. Currently three quarters through construction, the centre will provide many functions for the village, including a large multi-functional hall with full stage /...

Harold Street

A high-quality deep retrofit. Work carried out by Tom Straker, AECB member. Completed 2015. The clients are committed environmentalists, and were keen to demonstrate best practice in this modest town house.

Church Cottage

Part retrofit, part new-build extension to a small-holding cottage on the Welsh borders. Building work carried out by Mike Whitfield builders, AECB members.

C.A.T.

Since 1998, we have been involved with projects at the Centre for Alternative Technology; working as both design consultants, and on site, as specialist rammed earth building contractors / trainers. We worked with Pat Borer, architect on the rammed earth aspects of the ATEic bookshop and offices; and then as consultants for the WISE building.

Cherry Orchard

Cherry Orchard is a Camphill residential home and farm. The building we designed is for workers and co-workers to have a generous space for their indoor gardening activities; it combines a learning centre / potting shed, with a large south-facing greenhouse. The client group were interested to use the focus of the design process, to also look at the interlinking of all the external spaces between buildings. Adele Mills led...

Huckenden Barn

Conversion of this beautiful historic Chilterns barn into a useful and dramatic, comfortable living / social space. The building work was carried out by Neil May Builders. Neil was then in the process of founding Natural Building Technologies. We had the opportunity, as conservation and ecological specialists, to trial many techniques, using natural insulants, lime mortar plinth to stonework, avoiding underpinning etc. Work was completed in 1996. The project won...

Glasfryn

A new Passivhaus-certified detached dwelling; completed Autumn 2016. This house replaced a coach house that had been converted in the 1970’s. Our clients wanted a highly energy efficient house for its comfort value, and reduced running costs. As early adopters of energy efficiency / ecological building on other projects, they were happy to adopt the Passivhaus as an important contemporary target. The building was built by Ecovert Solutions, AECB members.

Frongoch

A renovation and extension project of a courtyard of derelict stone buildings; outside Aberdovey, Gwynedd. The building work was completed in 2006, and the project subsequently won an award for its quality as a tourism facility in the Snowdonia National Park. The focus of the renovation was not towards a specific energy standard; but to focus on good quality energy efficiency ( Internal Wall Insulation was required, due to need...

Berins Hill, Oxfordshire

This timber framed house was completed in 2005 for a private client in Oxfordshire. The design, being in an AONB, had to work within tight planning volume requirements and aesthetic criteria as a replacement dwelling. INITIAL CONCEPT We were commissioned to design a new replacement dwelling on the site of an old corrugated iron chalet in the Chilterns AONB; a previous architect’s design had been refused planning. The building was...

The Greenwood Centre’s Woodland College

The GWC is a nationally renowned educational charity, working to promote coppice and green wood crafts, and management of deciduous woodlands. It runs a variety of social forestry courses. We have been involved with various building projects at the GWC since 1995, when we were commissioned to design the Woodland College. This building prioritised use of local timber alongside modern energy efficient timber frame construction. In 2006 the building was extended...