VLA Stores Building, Weybridge, UK

About the Building

A new two-storey Stores Building is replacing existing accommodation on the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) campus near Weybridge. It has primary storage and goods-in and -out areas located on the ground floor, for reasons of structural loading and accessibility, with the lighter loads of the box stores, office, lockers and rest room on the first floor.

The building has been designed for compact and economical space use and circulation flow in a minimum rectangular envelope. This achieves both a reduced volume of heated space in the building (and so of energy demand) and a reduced external surface area from which heat energy can be lost.

The Stores Building was commissioned by the Department of environment, food and rural affairs (Defra), as part of a wider redevelopment of the campus. The project was BREEAM assessed in accordance with Defra's policy of achieving the highest environmental targets for developments on its estate.

Further information

Key Facts

  • BREEAM rating: Excellent,
  • Score: 83.76%Size: 1500 m2,
  • Stage: Design,
  • BREEAM version: Industrial 2006. 

Overview of Environmental Features

  • Vertical axis wind turbines mounted on the roof,
  • Bio fuel boiler,
  • Compact building envelope with good thermal insulation,
  • Solar shading,
  • Surface water run off from roof via ‘weir' cascade (instead of traditional downpipes) into underground storage and attenuation tank (due to local high water table),
  • Rainwater harvested and used for toilet flushing,
  • Good thermal insulation and airtightness. The site's relatively exposed and noisy location next to the M25 allowed for noise reduction through the building fabric to be combined with highly insulated external walls and roof. The nature of the building requires a largely windowless external envelope, which also gave opportunities for achieving a good thermal and air tight envelope.

The BREEAM Assessment

The project performed very well across all categories with the top scoring categories being:

  • Water and Management: which both achieved 100% of available credits
  • Pollution: 92.31%
  • Health & Wellbeing: 85.71%
  • Energy: 83.33%

 Building Services

  • Bio fuel boiler - running on pure rapeseed oil which has a low CO2 emission factor
  • 4 x 6kW vertical axis wind turbine units - feeding back into the site electricity network when the building's use is less than the electricity generated
  • Sun pipes - supplementing passive infrared (PIR) controlled lighting to internal areas
  • Solar thermal heating to supplement the low-temperature hot water (LTHW) system

Green Strategy

The client set out the objectives for this project from the very first briefing meetings and was emphatic in aiming for the highest achievable green strategy.

As part of earlier initiatives for Defra, the design team had reviewed more than 30 possible options for environmentally sustainable improvements that could be used on the VLA campus redevelopment. This allowed them to quickly assess and incorporate the most appropriate elements into the new Stores Building during the briefing and design stages, so these were fully integrated into the design and not considered as later ‘add-ons'.

This approach also enabled the maximum synergy between mutually contributing elements - e.g. water storage/ storm water attenuation/reduction of above and below ground drainage/optimisation of site area - giving added value to the BREEAM elements. 

Project Team Details

  • Client: Defra, VLA
  • Project Manager: Cyril Sweett
  • Architect: Wilson Mason & Partners
  • Building Services Engineer: Zisman Bowyer & Partners
  • Structural Engineer: Gifford & Partners
  • Cost Consultant: Nisbet
  • CDM Coordinator: Cyril Sweett
  • BREEAM Assessor: Cyril Sweett
  • Main contractor: Walter Lilly

Defra Project Sponsor said:

"BREEAM certification is a recognised measure of success for all Defra projects where the quality and sustainability of the environment is a stated objective. Also, the knowledge that the environmental targets have been assessed and met, whilst providing a building that can function efficiently with cost effective systems, stimulates a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction with their workplace for both the building's owner and occupants."

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