What does a ‘sustainable business’ look like? Many of you are perhaps picturing restaurants using fresh, local, organic produce. Maybe you see a clothing company that sources organic fabrics, a coffee shop using biodegradable or reusable cups, or perhaps, you imagine businesses that sell electric cars, solar panels, and other ‘green energy’ products…
Did anyone picture a property developer? A business park? Have you heard of embodied carbon? Perhaps not. Property development is typically associated with construction, and construction is associated with manufacture, raw material consumption, oil powered machinery, generators… none of which sounds particularly eco-friendly. However, it is possible to restore properties sustainably and our blog will detail how the Winslade Park development is a prime example of this.
Restoration of Winslade Manor
Winslade Manor, is a Grade 2* listed building with a rich history dating back to the 1800s that underwent sensitive restoration in 2020. One of the more notable features of this restoration was the treatment of the original sash windows. They were delicately removed, meticulously overhauled, and reinstalled with an innovative triple-layer brush system, rendering them nearly ‘air-tight’. This approach not only preserved the architectural properties of the building (in line with its ‘listed’ status) but also significantly enhanced energy efficiency. By not only reusing the existing materials, but enhancing them to make them more energy efficient, we have also successfully improved the carbon output at the ‘operational’ stage of the property’s life-cycle.
Restoration VS Rebuilding
Around 30% (approximately) of carbon emissions are derived from the construction stage of a structure’s lifespan, known as embodied carbon. This is a significant percentage, particularly when you correlate it with time – buildings are operational for far longer than they take to build. As such, a restoration project will always be more environmentally friendly compared to rebuilding.
The Significance of Embodied Carbon
RICS have acknowledged the importance of considering embodied carbon within the carbon life cycle of any given building. Embodied carbon refers to the volume of carbon given off during the construction, operation, and demise of a building: this factors in everything from the acquisition, manufacture, and processing of raw materials to the transportation, machinery, power and energy use, and even the disposal of demolition waste.
When you restore a property instead of rebuilding it you have the potential to reduce your carbon emissions by as much as 30%. As such, our proposal to revive the existing infrastructure at Winslade Park, and retain its commercial use status, was significant in our success in securing planning approval where others had failed.
A ‘Fabric First’ Approach
A cornerstone of the Manor restoration project was the adoption of a ‘fabric first’ approach. This method revolves around repairing and enhancing the existing fabric of the building to optimize energy efficiency. By improving insulation, upgrading windows, and implementing other fabric-related measures, Winslade Manor has achieved a level of sustainability and energy efficiency that surpasses many modern constructions.
Elevating Energy Efficiency
Winslade Manor achieved an impressive EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of B, a remarkable feat for a building of its age. This accomplishment was the result of various strategic interventions. The loft space and eaves were extensively insulated, providing a substantial boost to thermal performance. The old gas boilers were replaced with a modern electric Variable Refrigerant Fan (VRF) system, optimizing heating and cooling while reducing environmental impact. Furthermore, energy-efficient LED lighting was installed throughout the building, significantly reducing electricity consumption.
The Challenge of Solar Integration
While solar energy is a hallmark of many sustainable buildings, Winslade Manor faced a unique challenge. Due to various constraints, including its listed status, the incorporation of solar panels was not permitted. Despite this limitation, the restoration project demonstrated that sustainability can be achieved through various other means. However, the possibility of a solar powered future is not entirely off the table for Winslade Manor or the wider park.
A Vision for a Carbon-Neutral Future
Looking ahead, Burrington Estates envisions a carbon neutral Winslade Park. A planning application has been submitted for a 2MW solar array which, subject to approval, is set to revolutionize the estate’s energy landscape. When completed, this solar array is projected to provide 100% of Winslade Park’s energy needs, catapulting the entire park (including the Manor building) to an EPC A+ rating and deeming us a net zero site.
Empowering Sustainable Businesses
The impact of Winslade Park’s sustainable transformation extends beyond its historic walls. It also sets a precedent for businesses looking to operate in an environmentally conscious manner. The estate will provide a phenomenal opportunity for enterprises seeking a truly sustainable environment to thrive and grow. As one of the first of its kind in the UK, Winslade Park hopes to pave the way for a new era of sustainable business parks, where history and sustainability harmoniously coexist, shaping a brighter, greener future for generations to come.
Pioneering Sustainable Business Parks
Through sensitive restoration and a deep-seated commitment to environmental consideration, this historic estate has emerged as a model for preserving heritage while charting a course towards a carbon-neutral future. Great effort has been made from the very beginning to be an advocate for sustainability, from the sensitive restoration to the imminent introduction of EVCP and the future arrival of solar power. So, now you know, is Winslade Park is more sustainable than you realised?
Interested in sustainable office space in Exeter?
Email [email protected]
Call 01392 691345
Or complete the enquiry form below to register your interest!