Company drinks to eco-friendly future

Looking at the rows and rows of neatly stacked beer barrels inside the new Adnams distribution centre, you could be forgiven for thinking it was just like any other industrial unit.

Looking at the rows and rows of neatly stacked beer barrels inside the new Adnams distribution centre, you could be forgiven for thinking it was just like any other industrial unit.

But true to the style of its quirky seaside home of Southwold, the famous north Suffolk brewery has always done things with a twist, and the new building is no exception.

Rather than just send their beer out from a cheap corrugated iron identikit unit, Adnams decided to prove that being environmentally friendly does not always mean getting hit in the pocket, and created one of the UK's largest, eco-friendly industrial buildings.

From the giant living roof, to the solar water heaters, to the building's bricks made of lime, quarry waste and hemp, every minute detail has been thought out to be green, clean and cost effective.

Even its location is a clever piece of recycling, being sited in the dip of a former quarry which, with the help of its foliage covered roof, helps it to blend with the picturesque north Suffolk countryside.

In fact the building is so environmentally sensitive, it is one of the first ever industrial buildings in the UK to be in the running for an excellent rating from the Building Research Establishment Environ-mental Assessment Method (Breeam). But Adnams bosses also believe that the £5.8m building

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could signal a revolution in business, as the company prove eco-sense can also make good financial sense, with energy savings over the next 10 years expected to exceed £500,000.

Yesterday, as the centre officially opened for business, Adnams managing director Andy Wood said the building had been a journey of discovery for him.

He said: “It has really been a journey of discovery for me, in terms of just how far you can push the environmental agenda and still have it make good business sense.

“You have to be able to show an appropriate return on your investment, and here this building has cost us 15pc more than a conventional build, but we are looking at saving £49,000 a year in energy costs at today's prices.

“Energy prices have risen many fold over the last few years, so in one way it just makes economic sense.

“But also, as a company we wanted to do something special and create a distribution centre that we could be really proud of.

“We have had a lot of other companies interested in the building, it has created a tremendous amount of interest. I'm even giving talks to other businesses about it.

“It is a great asset for Adnams, it is good for the brand and our employees love working here.”

WHAT MAKES IT SO GREEN?

t Sedum roof: The roof is the largest living roof in the UK. It is covered by 0.6 hectares of Sedum, a succulent plant that thrives in inhospitable conditions. The green roof not only provides a great habitat for wildlife, it also helps filter out pollutants from the air as well as providing the building with excellent active insulation, keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

t Lime/hemp walls: Building blocks made of lime mortar and quarry waste, and filled with a hemp and lime mix, provide the building with natural insulation, keeping the freshly brewed beer cool like a flask, and leaving Adnams with no costly refrigeration bills. The Adnams distribution centre is the biggest building in the UK to use this material.

t Glulam wood beams: The huge curved roof is supported by glulam (glued and laminated) timber beams from sustainable forests in Scandinavia, running 60m across the building. By using timber, it uses one-24th of the energy it would take to produce steel beams of the same size, and timber is also a fantastic insulator.

t Rainwater collection: The large sedum roof provides a vast rainwater catchment area, which then provides most of the water the centre uses, recycled throughout the building for washing vehicles and flushing toilets etc. Also 80pc of the hot water in the building is heated by solar panels.