World Green Building week. Tour of CAT’s WISE building

by Caroline Alsop

According to a report by the European JRC PV Status Report 2011, Solar PV is now the fastest growing industry in the world.

With Solar PV production more than doubling in 2010 there’s significant evidence that green building techniques and methodologies are being used more widely in today’s building sector. In the next revision of building regulations in 2013 planning and development laws are expected to take a further positive step towards increased environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. From here on in, the demand for awareness in green building methodologies is likely to expand at a fast pace. However there is still plenty more to achieve.

The UKGBC (UK Green Building Council) have identified that ‘The Built Environment has a huge impact on our daily lives, our society and our natural world. Globally it accounts for 40-50% of natural resource use, 20% of water use, 30-40% or energy use and around a third of CO2 emissions.’ To address these worrying statistics, since 2007 the UKGBC have been on a mission to increase awareness about sustainability in our built environment. To help achieve this, each year they host ‘Green Building Week’ an event encouraging their members to talk about sustainability in their built environment.

This year, they’re using the event to ask the question ‘What does sustainability mean in relation to the built environment?’ Us folk at CAT thought the best way to answer this question was to host a tour of our 2011 RIBA awarded WISE building (Wales Institute of Sustainable Education), showcasing our unique vision of sustainability and the built environment. On Tuesday architect Pat Borer took a group of local architects and CAT visitors around WISE.

After the tour, CAT visitor, Simon Shelley commented ‘that was inspiring and fascinating. I have been told about building methods and materials I didn’t even know existed!’

For those who were unable to attend, here’s what sustainable design and construction means to our built environment.

Nestled in the scenic hills of Snowdonia WISE is the true embodiment of sustainable design and renewable technology. Sensitively constructed out of low embodied energy materials such as hemp and lime, rammed earth and sustainably sourced timber. It’s been thoughtfully designed for low energy consumption use. Contributions come from on-site renewable electricity sources such as solar PV, hydro and wind turbines, and an impressive array of solar thermal collectors contribute to the domestic hot water needs.

Green Building Week has been an excellent opportunity for us at CAT to raise awareness about our sustainable design and construction practices. Moving forward, with Green Building Week in mind, CAT will continue to provide the confidence, training and capabilities which will inspire individuals to construct their physical surroundings using local and natural resources in a thoughtful and realistic capacity.

WISE - Tim Soar photographs