Home > Case Studies > Red Kite House - a Sustainable Build: A Case Study

Red Kite House - a Sustainable Build: A Case Study

By: Susan Hunt MA - Updated: 17 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Sustainable Build Emissions Building

Red Kite House in Oxfordshire is a shining example of a new build project which ticks all the boxes when it comes to environmental awareness.

The building, home to a regional office of the Environment Agency, replaced eight smaller offices in different areas so it immediately had a positive impact on agency travel costs and emissions.

The agency wanted to create a flagship for sustainable build and set out to build a three-storey building which would be worthy of a BREEAM “excellent” rating.

Award Winning Project

The building in Wallingford has since gone on to win a number of architectural awards as well as a prestigious National Energy Efficiency Award and has hosted a number of environmental and sustainable-build events.

The idea was to create a building that would be in harmony with the environment and provide a pleasant workplace for its 250 staff while achieving major energy savings.

Red Kite House uses natural ventilation rather than air conditioning while an efficient rainwater collection system provides 40 per cent of the building’s water needs. Any extra water above requirements is redirected to a nearby pond.

Solar Panels

Photo voltaic cells generate 23,000 kWh of power per year and the building has rooftop solar hot water panels which supplement its water heating.

When staff were consulted at the planning and development stages, many said they wanted fresh air and windows that would open. Following this, natural ventilation became one of the main design features.

The building’s curved-shape is designed to capture the wind and achieve greater airflow to help with cooling during hot weather. The glazing and blinds were also chosen to help keep the interior cool when needed.

During the day, high concrete ceilings act as heat sinks and these are cooled at night by high-level automatic windows.

Lower Carbon Emissions

Thanks to its energy generation and energy saving devices, the building uses about half the energy consumed by an air-conditioned office, reducing carbon emissions by more than 17 tonnes per year.

This has allowed it to cut its power from the national grid by 33,500 kWh per year and its rainwater system reduces the mains water needed by around 240,000 litres.

In fact, enough rainwater is harvested every year to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool and this is used for all toilet flushing.

The Construction

The building has a steel frame with rainscreen tiling, natural slate and cladded walls.It also has a brise soleil (a type of louvred sunscreen which shades windows from the sun). As well as reducing solar gain, this adds to the appearance of a building and at Red Kite House it includes 200m2 of photo voltaic cells.

All domestic appliances in the building have an A or AA rating for energy use and meter readings for gas, electricity and water are taken on a weekly basis and recorded against targets set as part of the agency’s ISO14001 and EMAS certification.

The results are analysed and discussed at management team meetings both at area and regional level which allows any problems or shortfalls to be identified and addressed.

Car Parking

Flooding considerations were taken into account at the design stage and measures included constructing the car park with pervious blocks which allow rainwater to soak into the ground.

This means that run off is much reduced and doesn’t contribute to any flooding risks further downstream.

The introduction of desk sharing allowed the agency to occupy a smaller building than it would have otherwise needed and this has resulted in extra savings of around £200,000 per year.

In addition, staff have access to pool bikes and a car sharing system has been set up.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Mike
    Re: Reclaimed Materials
    This is a cheeky message... Nextdoor neighbour of a friend of mine (naively) has been taken for £6000 by a pair of builders who wouldn't even…
    6 October 2019
  • Siddh
    Re: Sustainable Lighting
    My name is Siddh Patel and I attend Queen Elizabeth's School for Boys in London, England. For my exam in product design, I would like to…
    5 October 2019
  • Stoner
    Re: Stone Construction
    You're wrong by saying slate is only suitable for roofs and floors. I build with slate stone all the time. Local Cornish quarrys have a many…
    20 September 2019
  • Alf
    Re: Stone Construction
    It is worth remembering that the villages of Groby and Swithland in North Leicestershire are on slate outcrops. Groby slate was used by the…
    10 September 2019
  • Tony Fursland
    Re: Compost Toilets
    Allotments in Kent. Composting toilet please. No electricity or water. Price / available
    15 August 2019
  • Michelle
    Re: Environmentally Friendly, Non Toxic Paint
    The article is misleading. A biobased chemical is identical to the one made from petroleum. It is called a…
    14 August 2019
  • Ahmad
    Re: Careers and Courses for Eco Build
    Hi i Ishtiaq Ahmad is interested in environmental design courses
    14 August 2019
  • Rasmia
    Re: Careers and Courses for Eco Build
    hi. do you have any short course on sustainability or green building for 3 to 6months in UK? please confirm me the date…
    1 August 2019
  • Sangita Budhathoki
    Re: Grants and Loans for Green Development
    Hi, This is Sangita from Nepal. I've looking for funding support for the project that helps to encourage to save the…
    29 July 2019
  • Indi
    Re: Greenfield Sites
    Currently in the process of purchasing a property with we have now found out that’s it’s a green field site of 6acres and we have been told that…
    21 July 2019