Wind turbines reduce carbon footprint

Buro Happold is helping the University of Sheffield to achieve a carbon neutral building at the new Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The erection of two large wind turbines in April makes this the first carbon neutral, major manufacturing facility in the UK.
The AMRC building, completed in December 2007, provides a world class facility where research, design, manufacture and study can interact effectively. The building is located on reclaimed opencast mining land on the outskirts of Sheffield and has been designed as an exemplar ‘factory of the future’, embracing renewable technologies and many sustainable features, both in terms of structural design and building services.
“The new 4500m2 AMRC, funded by Yorkshire Forward and EU Objective 1, provides a mixture of flexible workshop space, supporting laboratories and office space,” said David Briggs of the University of Sheffield Estates department. “The accommodation will serve staff’s needs and is also designed to be carbon neutral in use – the building’s operation will cause no net emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. With the help of Buro Happold we have managed to arrive at a solution that effectively minimises our environmental impact, while working within demanding budgetary constraints.”
Buro Happold’s Leeds Office was responsible for the design of the ground engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering, building services design and provided specialist consultancy for BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).
A combination of good structural and building design with the use of ground source heat pumps, natural ventilation, daylighting and, of course, the wind turbines make economic as well as environmental sense. The project is able to break ground environmentally but not break the bank.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of this project is that we have been able to show that we can achieve carbon neutrality using well-proven technology,” said Jason Gardner, Buro Happold’s project leader on the building. “We can build a high quality facility that meets all the needs of our client and yet treads lightly on the planet.”
The use of the large wind turbines is crucial to zeroing the carbon emissions as they are sized to effectively offset the annual electricity demand of the entire AMRC. “Wind turbine technology is ideally suited to a building of this nature, where workshop machinery and our heat pump systems use lots of electricity,” added Gardner.
The site is exposed and has reasonably average wind speeds (5.3 m/s). The turbines selected, (WES 30 mk1 from Wind Energy Solutions BV,) with a nominal rating of 250kW, will provide sufficient energy (c 600,000 kWh per year) to achieve carbon neutrality. During periods of low demand, the turbines will feed any excess electricity generated back to the grid.
“These 30m diameter turbines are well proven, with hundreds already working in the Netherlands and other mainland European countries”, explained Simon Swallow from specialist installers Rotary Engineering UK, based in Sheffield. “The twin bladed turbines are mounted on conical tubular steel towers at a hub height of 40m. Their expected lifetime is in excess of twenty years.”
The reversible ground source heat pump (GSHP) uses some of this renewable electricity to provide low grade hot water, which is used to supply the underfloor heating system as well as provide chilled water in the summer for cooling. This provides excellent comfort control along with low energy consumption which is all renewable as it is generated on-site by the wind turbines.

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