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Corporate Green

Hamilton Associates has designed an office park with a Roman-style ventilation system. It’s remarkably innovative, finds Hattie Hartman

A speculative office park on a greenfield site is not where you’d expect to find a radical approach to heating and cooling. Indeed, the first phase of the Easter Group’s 35-hectare Business and Technology Park at Butterfield, Luton, by Hamilton Associates may look like no more than conventional corporate architecture, but its predicted annual CO2 emissions are a respectable at 27.5kg/m2.

This low figure is the result of an intelligent combination of off-the-shelf materials, a carefully considered natural ventilation strategy, and an innovative system that includes up to 80m runs of underground concrete pipes which replace conventional air conditioning. Paul Hartley of Hamilton Associates insists this system is nothing new. ‘The technology is very mundane,’ he says. ‘It’s basically what the Romans were doing 2,000 years ago.’

Phase 1 of the scheme, entitled The Village, was completed in August and comprises approximately 1,700m2 of office space in five buildings. It has since achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. The environmental agenda for the site was led by the client and its service engineer, Atelier Ten, who spent a year researching and costing various options for the site, which included photovoltaics, wind turbines and a CHP plant. In the end, capital intensive renewables were ditched in favour of a concrete structure for thermal mass, and natural ventilation.

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