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1 May, 2015 - 11:12 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge role in Costa’s UK-first zero energy outlet

Breathing Buildings’ stacks on the roof of the new Costa/Subway outlet

Cambridge-based natural ventilation specialist Breathing Buildings has played a part in the creation of the UK’s first zero energy retail building for coffee kings Costa.

It collaborated with Emission Zero – design consultant and architect – and other members of the design and construction team to help create the historic ‘eco-pod’ at a retail park in Telford.

The project was masterminded through an alliance between Costa and property expert Hammerson. The eco-pod includes the latest pioneering energy saving technology, such as a roof mounted photovoltaic array, a heat pump coupled to an underfloor heating and cooling slab, and an e-stack ventilation system.

Breathing Buildings was appointed to provide design consultancy and implementation of a bespoke ventilation solution with a customised control system. The objective was to build the UK’s first zero energy retail building while ensuring high quality internal conditions to satisfy stringent client requirements.

With large areas of glass requiring consideration in terms of seasonal heat gains and losses and the added element of continuous foot fall and doors frequently open, this was no small task.

Breathing Buildings’ strategy played a crucial part in the plans to achieve zero energy status. A key feature was to create intelligent, integrated communication systems and controls across ventilation, underfloor heating / cooling, and air conditioning. This ensured all components worked effectively together, rather than against each other.

Breathing Buildings supplied internal mixing e-stacks and Mushroom Roof terminations, customised in the colours of Costa and Subway – next door neighbour in the new building – as well as a number of low-level glazed-in dampers. The e-stack ventilation system works in one of two modes – displacement ventilation in summer and mixing ventilation in winter.

Breathing Buildings’ e-stack ventilation system delivers two energy savings for the building. The first, as with all natural systems, is the significant reduction in fan power over mechanical systems.

The second, unique to the e-stack approach and not traditional natural ventilation techniques, is the removal of pre-heating achieved by bringing air in at a high level and mixing it with air in the room, rather than passing it over heating batteries.

Both these elements present significant energy savings, contributing to the overall goal of a zero energy building. The make or break of success is the control. 
The sophisticated control system inside the e-stack units ensures the internal air is kept fresh. The on board controller allows the system to monitor temperatures and CO2 levels and react according to demand.

Shaun Fitzgerald, CEO at Breathing Buildings said: “The key to this project is how all the different elements use a central control system which issues signals based on the temperature and therefore which component is best placed to maintain the interior temperature and air quality.

“For this type of control system to be installed it was critical that all the contractors worked collaboratively throughout the project to achieve a seamless installation and optimal operative conditions going forward. We are extremely proud to have played an important part in creating the UK’s first net zero energy retail building.”

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