Building a low carbon conference centre within a listed barn
The Organic Research Centre at Elm Farm (ORC), near Newbury in Berkshire, is the UK ‘s leading organisation for the research, development and advisory work in organic farming so it was fitting that on its 30th anniversary the Prince of Wales opened the latest phase of the redevelopment of the institution in the village of Hamstead Marshall.
Ecotecure led the way with regards the sustainable conversion and restoration of their farm building to create leading-edge conference and office facilities. These are central to the continuing success of the centre – lifting and inspiring those who work there as well as the thousands of visitors from around the globe.
Ecotecture was approached in 2000 with a view to converting the existing Grade II listed barn and outbuildings into an office/conference centre in an environmentally sustainable manner. The first phase was to carefully dismantle much of the original building and re-use the same materials to create the conference and meeting area with the second phase providing a linked reception area from the listed barn to the modern office suite.
Special care and attention was paid to the ecology of the site as several species of bats occupied the building, which were the subject of an extensive survey. The works to the site enabled the bats to retain their home in situ by the inclusion of specifically designed roofspaces and entry/exit tiles.
The development was built to be low carbon and ecologies with the scheme featuring several alternative means of reducing the impact on the Earth. These included a self feeding wood chip boiler, solar hot water panels, using recycled and reclaimed building products with lime mortar meant less waste whilst retaining the character of the building, and exceedingly high levels of insulation in 100% natural fabrics containing hemp or recycled newspaper with the gutters channelling rainwater via filters and being stored in an underground tank for flushing toilets.
The use of eco materials and energy efficient products within the buildings ensure that Elm Farm operate a sustainable yet modern practical working environment with scope to add further renewable technologies in the future.
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Commercial, Conversion, Timberframe