We received some great news last week to confirm that our planning application for the new 'green' Harlow Carr Learning Centre has been approved.
The building, designed by one of the leading practitioners of sustainable building architect Andrew Yeats (EcoArc) Winner of the Queens Award For Sustainable Design in 2006, is designed to be one of the 'greenest' buildings in the UK with a zero carbon footprint.
The new building will provide facilities for all our future learning requirements ~ for schools, adults, library users and the community providing a flexible inspirational learning space for all to enjoy.
The Learning Centre will be a flagship example of sustainable development taking a holistic approach to energy efficiency in its design ~ super insulated, low energy, high BREAAM building with a design rating of Outstanding. It will have integrated renewable energy technologies to include a combination of rainwater harvesting and a grey water recycling system reducing the buildings water consumption by 70%. A small wind turbine will provide energy to the building and a ground source heat pump will help with the minimal heating requirements.
Other technologies include a sedum roof designed to help blend the building into its surroundings and provide an insulating surface, promoting biodiversity and assisting with the absorption of carbon dioxide.It is estimated that the building will save the production of 75 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
The Learning Centre will enable the Education Team to triple the number of free school visits to the garden, and provide a vital hub for our ongoing outreach projects encouraging schools growing and horticulture as part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. It will be a fabulous addition helping towards our charitable goals linked to the environment and to children and the team are looking forward to its development.
Construction of the new building is due to commence in January 2009, there will be lots of opportunities for visitors to follow the project through on site interpretation and staff lead update tours which will explain the latest developments.
Other news ~ the construction of the new Alpine House is progressing well with the installation of the glasshouse frame and glazing. Over the next few months the garden team are going to be busy involved in the internal and external landscaping and planting.
In between all that news the garden is looking particularly lovely at the moment, with fabulous autumn perennial colour on our main borders through vibrant colour on trees and shrubs. Look out for Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory Vine) and growing 50ft in a large oak near the study centre. It's going to look amazing!
Why not pay us a visit during our A Taste of Autumn event over half term week Saturday 25th October ~ Sunday 2nd November. There is lots going on to include Apple festival and family activities, willow weaving and pumpkin carving. See full event programme at www.rhs.org.uk/gardenevents
Wrap up warm and happy gardening!
Dean Peckett ~ Garden Manager