Ecotricity's Zero Carbon HQ: If They Can Force the Owner to Sell...


Image credit: Ecotricity

Those lovable trouble makers at wind-energy developer Ecotricity are at it again. Having battled with French nuclear giant EDF over the green Union Jack, and having started an open feud with fellow renewable energy supplier Good Energy, the company is ruffling feathers once again. This time, it's over their plans for a zero carbon office building that will feature living walls, passive air heating and cooling, active solar, and even the possibility of electric water taxis to ease the commute. What could be wrong with any of that? Well, it seems the owner of the site doesn't want to sell. But that's a tiny little detail that is unlikely to deter Ecotricity. The site, it seems, belongs to an absentee landlord, and is home to a brutalist office block that has lain empty for years. The company, working with the local council, has been going through the public enquiry process to get a compulsory purchase order. They lost their initial attempt, because they didn't have planning permission, but that permission has just been granted—clearing the way for a possible purchase of this unused building.

But politics aside, what's the actual building going to be like? Predictably for a man who developed the 100mph Nemesis electric sports car, and who made the UK rich list through building wind turbines, Ecotricity founder Dale Vince is not holding back in terms of green ambition:

"That's where it gets exciting. We'll have to start from scratch. Flatten the site (even with the best eco will in the world it really is beyond redemption) and build from first principles. Maximising the south facing side for passive solar heating (and maybe a little PV) while maximising insulation and minimising windows on the cold sunless north side. Using the height of the building to create air flow for 'passive air con' aided by cooling from underground water sources - and maximum use of natural light through translucent walls. We'll have rainwater harvesting (it's the moat running round the site) and grey water recycling. And living walls - walls that change colour with the seasons. And more."

Pretty exciting stuff. Dale has more shots of the planned Ecotricity HQ building, as well as some images of the monstrous hulk that's sitting there now, over at Zero Carbonista.

Now we just have to see what the courts decide.

Tags: Activism | Architecture | Renewable Energy | United Kingdom | Wind Power

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