Our client was hired as part of a joint development of the UK’s first food park with integrated energy and waste management systems. The world class multi-million-pound development would transform the wider economy as well as providing a modern distribution hub and renewable energy infrastructure.
The key challenge of the project for our client involved developing designs for the food park which incorporated integrated energy and waste management technologies. At the time, there were no precedents; therefore a benchmark needed to be established along with assessing the viability of available technologies.
Our client collaborated with BRE (Building Research Establishment – the internationally recognised developers of sustainability standards, codes, and methodologies), and SPECIFIC (a UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre that are leaders in energy technology research) to establish a suitable benchmark for factors such as regulations, materials, technologies, and construction methods. They developed a transformational energy and waste management infrastructure, which included a variety of technologies. Our client’s work with BRE enabled the park to become Wales’s first District Cooling Network, which allowed it to align with the Welsh Government’s Zero Carbon Zones.
The park’s district cooling network would be driven by a modular tri-generation energy centre, biased for provision of coolth via absorption cooling, to run alongside the typical electricity generation. The tri-generation fuel sources were developed to include ‘clean air’ anaerobic digestion using the site’s own generated waste converted into biogas. Additionally, our client underwent consultations with a university that assisted with advice and research into microalgae; the cultivation of microalgae has the potential to produce biofuels from solar energy with low land use and without competing with food crops. From this, they carried out research into the implementation and integration of these technologies in relation to wastewater treatment as well as their role in the creation of biogas.
The supply of low/zero-carbon energy were matched against low energy demand from the buildings themselves acting as power stations, incorporating technologies developed by SPECIFIC including thin film photovoltaic integration into the fabric of the façades as well as solar heat pump technologies. Any surplus electrical power would then be exported to nearby demands (a proposed school and electrical car charging points) to prevent wastage.
The development also served to be an exemplar of water efficiency, minimising its infrastructure impact through rainwater harvesting from the roof area via on-site filtration to be used for pre-wash food preparation, greywater toilet flush and hose-down functions. The large-scale water store would also allow thermal buffering as well as internal climate control through the buildings.
Through careful research and assessment, our client was able to merge a number of separate technologies that had not previously been combined together in such a way, with no precedent or existing blueprint to work from. This resulted in the development of a completely unique and forward-thinking integrated energy and waste management infrastructure for the food park.