Tates of Sussex Garden Centres opened their most environmentally friendly garden centre to date in 2010, packed with green features such as solar panels, LED light fittings and grey water recycling.
The split level garden shop is 1200 square metres and has been virtually rebuilt from the old Evans Halshaw workshops that closed in 2008. The new roof is over 300mm thick sealed with airtight seals to achieve an amazingly low U value of 0.2 W/m2K.
To provide natural light and reduce the lighting requirement, roof lights were specified. However, due to the super-insulated nature of the new building excessive heat build-up in the summer was a concern. This has been minimised by the use of triple glazed barrel vaults with a unique heat reflect treatment to give a U value of less than 1.97 W/m2K.
An ‘airlock system’ has been designed by Ecotecture of Haywards Heath to minimise heat loss through a series of lobbies at the entrance and exits. The glazing is Argon filled and the automatic door system has been sourced from Assa Abloy, Sweden to ensure optimum heat retention within the building.
The floor has been overlaid with 300mm of insulation laid between joists mounted on specially designed insulated saddle pads to minimise heat loss. The ‘eco’ theme has been continued through to the final floor surfacing which has been manufactured from rubber and sourced from Germany.
The coffee shop is being converted from the old Evans Halshaw car showroom. Here, a floating floor has been constructed over the old uninsulated showroom floor with especially dense polystyrene insulation. Hot water for use in the coffee shop is obtained from solar water heating panels fitted to the south facing roof. Because of the highly insulated construction of the building, this requires minimal heating in winter.
‘We wanted to minimise the use of mains water’, says Jonathan Tate, Managing Director, ‘but we do not have the space for above ground tanks to collect rain water from the buildings. We decided to go underground and have installed several massive 27,000 litre tanks under our new plant sales area. This will enable us to provide all the irrigation requirements for our plants as well as service the customer toilets’.
The offices are also super-insulated with natural lighting provided by Monodraught mirrored sunpipes extending to the roof. Ventilation is provided via a heat recovery system fitted above the insulated ceilings.
Low energy lighting is used throughout with use made of LED low energy spot lights where possible, to minimise operating costs. The lower floor, originally the garage paint and body shop, has been converted to warehousing to accommodate direct container shipments of stock for the garden centre. ‘Our policy is to take container shipments direct from suppliers into each garden centre, says Jonathan. This minimises distribution costs, fuel and lorry use, pollution, and ultimately makes us more competitive than other local retailers’.
The warehouse has its own baling machine for cardboard, polythene and plastic waste produced from trading at the centre, which is then collected for recycling. The area has also been installed with a low energy lighting integrated with movement detectors that only operate while someone is active in a particular zone.
‘We have our own nursery locally to grow many of our plants’, says Jonathan, ‘but we are also passionate about using local and British growers to supply our garden centres and minimise travel miles and our carbon footprint’.