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Slough waste transfer station project wins Green Infrastructure Challenge

A design to transform a busy waste recycling centre in Slough into a green oasis has won the second Green Infrastructure Challenge, held by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the ARCC Network.

The winning team, led by Louise Handley of environmental services company Amey, demonstrated an ambitious plan to re-model the fabric and landscape of Chalvey Recycling Centre in Slough to accommodate new staff and departments whilst also dramatically improving energy efficiency, wellbeing and reducing the flood risk.

The building dates from the 1980s, and suffers from overheating in the summer as well as poor air quality due to its industrial surroundings. It also sits on a floodplain, which threatens this building and surrounding residential and retail buildings.

Amey’s solution proposes a radical re-design of the entire premises that makes extensive use of ‘living walls’ and other plant material such as vertical farming and green roofs to naturally shade from the sun and cool the building internally – as well as retaining heat in winter. The green elements within the building are designed to have a number of positive effects on wellbeing; including improving indoor air quality, encouraging occupant engagement with greenery and reducing wind speed in an exposed site.

The second strand to the plan involves changes to the external environment, with the addition of several rain gardens that are designed to catch and arrest rainfall to prevent it overloading a nearby stream. Secondary benefits include their potential as windbreaks, their positive impact on air quality and shading, as well as the wellbeing benefits associated with green spaces.

Challenge winner Louise Handley of Amey said: “This design challenge was a felicitous opportunity for us to experiment with ideas for improving the existing offices, whilst considering how future development of the building and site could incorporate GI measures and new technology, such as the Plant-e products, as new or retrofitted elements.  We have enjoyed taking part and are delighted to be chosen as the winners.”

Organised by CIBSE and the ARCC Network, the competition invited teams to demonstrate creative designs that utilise indoor and outdoor green infrastructure, such as living walls to deliver operational solutions that enhance the office environment.

The Challenge aims to change the way that built environment professionals think about green infrastructure, and to demonstrate its potential as a way to contribute to improving indoor air quality, resilience to climate change and staff productivity. The Challenge culminated in an event exploring green infrastructure as a building service during Open City’s Green Sky Thinking Week, at Build Studios in London.

The runners up in the competition were Deependra Pourel, Bernadette Widjaja & Karan Patel from the University of Westminster, who applied the scientific principles of green infrastructure to the Clarence Building at London South Bank University to model the effects of changes including green roofs, living walls and green ceilings.