Articles & Case Studies

Back to nature with Stormsaver

Posted: Monday 29th September 2008

Stormsaver, the UK’s leading provider of rainwater harvesting solutions, has played its part in an environmentally friendly visitor centre achieving one of the UK’s most sought after public building awards.

Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, in North Yorkshire, received the 2007 Prime Minister’s Better Public Buildings award at a ceremony that was held late last year. The award recognises high quality design, economic and social value, and strong sustainability credentials.

The centre, which aims to educate people on the role of sustainable technologies and the importance of locally sourced resources and construction materials, uses a 7,500 litre capacity rainwater harvesting system from Stormsaver to provide water for its WCs.

The system is estimated to collect 212 m3 of rainwater from the site’s 520 m2 roof area with an annual saving equivalent to almost £400 if connected to the mains water supply.

Rainwater harvesting is particularly important to the visitor centre as it sources its water from a local well that also supplies the nearby village of Low Dalby. To ensure the system is always operating at optimum efficiency the Forestry Commission has recently taken out a maintenance contract with Stormsaver.

The Dalby Forest system collects water from the roof, which is then fed to an underground storage tank where it is filtered and distributed through clear pipes alongside the natural spring water. Readings are taken from both water sources and relayed back to visitors through the centre’s electronic building management system, which analyses the amount of spring water that is saved through rainwater harvesting.

As well as recycling rainwater the visitor centre generates the majority of its electricity from photovoltaic (PV) panels and a mini wind turbine. The Building also acts as a living tribute to the surrounding forest, being clad in larch wood and heated by woodchip sourced from the forest itself.

The visitor centre has been designed to make the lowest possible impact on the surrounding area, which has been declared a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) by the UK Government. By using screw fast piles for the foundation work the building can be removed without leaving any trace of its existence, ensuring the fragile eco system isn’t adversely effected.

As well as the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building award Dalby Forest Visitor Centre has been entered into a total of 13 awards.

“Rainwater harvesting has made an important contribution to the visitor centre’s success in sustainability-focused awards,” says Steve McManaman, Operations Manager on the build for main contractors Miller Construction. “Without rainwater harvesting the centre would of been overly reliant on the local water supply, which would of made a mains water connection necessary. The Forestry Commission didn’t want to compromise on the building’s sustainable credentials and this made rainwater harvesting essential.”

Forestry Commission Building Surveyor, John Barrett comments: “Dalby Forest Visitor Centre has been designed to demonstrate what can be done with sustainable technologies. Rainwater harvesting can play an integral part in reducing a building’s environmental impact and it was important for us that it be represented in the build.”

Stormsaver Director Lisa Farnsworth adds: “Stormsaver is proud to have been included in such an ambitious and commendable project. Educating people about the need to reuse our natural resources is essential if we are going to combat climate change effectively.”

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