Super energy-efficient HEMP building exceeds client’s expectations

The Wine Society’s environmental aspirations for its fourth warehouse were two-fold: the building should be highly sustainable, and it should achieve radical reductions in energy consumption compared to its predecessors.
Furthermore, wine is best stored between 13°C and 16°C and will only tolerate slow temperature variations if it is to be maintained in optimum condition.
Vincent and Gorbing’s elegant design solution took account of all these factors. The external walls are constructed of Tradical Hemcrete, framed in innovative wooden cassettes, fixed to the structural steel frame. Hemcrete absorbs energy as external temperatures fluctuate. As they rise, Hemcrete dries out by absorbing energy; as the temperature falls, the reverse happens.
This process necessitated a ‘breathing space’ between the external metal panelling and the Hemcrete cassettes but ensured that internal temperature variations were substantially smaller than those externally.
Over 18 months, the Society and its engineers, MLM, monitored the building’s energy consumption in tandem with internal and external temperatures. The results were impressive: actual energy consumption was 65% less than predicted, with internal temperatures remaining stable within the optimum range.
The savings are dramatic: £15,250 less in annual energy costs than predicted and 90.4 tonnes of CO2 less per annum. These savings arise solely from the design of the building fabric itself which should not require replacement or alteration during the whole of its expected 40-year life.
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