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The Innovation Centre was constructed in 2000 and was built using sustainable materials. Many of the materials and techniques used in the build were seen as new and innovative at that time.
The external cladding of the Innovation Centre is Western Red Cedar which is durable softwood and is low maintenance. The famed natural durability, dimensional stability and long service life of Western Red Cedar reflects its unique qualities for use as a protective and decorative envelope for buildings. Western Red Cedar cladding is attractive, versatile, and environmentally friendly and allows for great flexibility in design and can be used for any scale of building. The boards have been left to weather naturally to a silvery-grey colour to ensure the building blends harmoniously with its surroundings.
Instead of a steel frame, a frame of Glulam wooden beams holds the building together, these are made from many wooden pieces glued together like plywood. The benefits are that the beams are light, strong and can be made and moulded to any shape and size. The flexibility of these Glulam beams can be seen best from the Innovation Centre foyer.
The roof of the Innovation Centre is covered in a vegetation mat of Sedum, up to 11 species of Sedum together with Saxifrage sub species, herbs, moss and grasses specifically selected to flourish in the British climate. Vegetation in the form of green roofing is becoming more popular, the air is cooled by the natural process of evaporation, allowing an increase in humidity and a reduction in air temperatures. Plants on the roof will produce oxygen to improve air quality, and importantly reduce carbon dioxide levels. Green roofs retain and therefore reduce airborne dust and pollutant particles, helping filter and improve air quality by attracting these particles to the surfaces of damp vegetation and soil. Landscaping the roof offers effective and practical alternative areas to replace and sustain natural habitats. These plants also help reduce the amount of waste water running into drains, and attract insects and other wildlife
The Innovation Centre is heated using a biomass boiler that burns wood pellets.
The biomass boiler can be viewed from inside the visitor centre. The wood burning boiler provides heating for the building and the unit is efficient with low emissions. The fuel is wood pellets that are made by compressing sawdust and wood shreds produced in manufacturing. Pellets are compact and well suited to automatic feed systems because they flow easily. They also have a high energy value because of their density and low moisture content (typically 8-10%). Carbon emissions kg CO2 per kWh 0.025. The storage hopper holds 4 Tonnes of pellets.
Outside the Innovation Centre in the courtyard you will find the Business Enterprise Units, these are constructed from greenwood, some have green oak cladding, and have wattle and daub infill, unfortunately at the time of the build there was a Foot and Mouth disease scare in the UK, so rather than using traditional materials the cow manure was replaced with lime putty and the horse hair replaced with synthetic hair. The walls were constructed in traditional fashion with hazel uprights and sycamore laths. Sycamore trees were felled in Laches Wood at Coven Outdoor Education Centre, 13,500 meters of laths were used to construct the walls and much of the Timber was processed locally at Sandon Saw Mill.