In an impressive collaborative effort, the UK Enterprise Centre of the University of East Anglia has become a model of how sustainable and low-environmental impact buildings should be built. One of the world's only modern buildings to use thatch to cover its outer walls, the center reveals its designers' dedication to green construction with what lies underneath the surface.
Single point deliverer Morgan Sindall worked alongside sustainable architects Architype to conceive the innovative thatch façade. Three hundred prefabricated panels were built and sent to master thatcher Stephen Letch for final touches. This made for easy construction at the building site and serves as part of the center’s 70 percent bio-based material claim.
One main concern during construction was keeping a keen eye on embodied energy, or the energy expended throughout every step of construction, including where materials originate. Using local straw for the external façade, local reed roofing, and a variety of natural fabrics and clays are just the start of lowering the site’s environmental impact.
The center is expected to achieve PassivHaus Certification, which includes standards such as triple-glazed windows and daylighting, thick insulation, and appropriate ventilation during the summer. It is also in the running for a BREEAM Outstanding rating, which requires rainwater use, site waste management, and biodiversity features such as insect hotels and homes for bats and birds. The structure also features solar panels on its rooftop, precise shading for temperature control, and boasts an embodied carbon rate that is 20 to 25 percent as large as comparable new university buildings.