Demonstrating the potential of retrofitting and renewables in contributing to operational carbon neutrality.
Dinton Activity Centre is a new multi-million-pound activity centre located at Dinton Pastures Country Park in Hurst, Wokingham. The centre is designed to be a leading example of the benefits and opportunities of carbon-neutral buildings.
The carbon savings at Dinton Activity Centre have been primarily achieved through reduced energy usage – via efficient design and material use – as well as through a focus on renewable energy generation. Additional eco-friendly measures include modular construction and installation (saving some 75 tonnes of carbon) and nature-friendly lighting, bird boxes, and hedgerows to increase biodiversity by 10%.
These measures negate the emissions produced by the council-owned site, making it the borough's first net-zero building, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This impressive achievement is helping Wokingham Borough Council to lead by example on sustainability and take a step closer to our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
The centre offers fantastic opportunities for residents – to work, to play, and to socialise and network - all in a sustainable environment. The project is designed to demonstrate to local residents and businesses what is possible through environmentally conscious design and construction, and how viable and beneficial these carbon-reducing changes can be.
This successful project would not have been possible without significant and meaningful contributions from our partner organisations. This includes the many contractors who worked on Dinton Activity Centre, including HLM Architects who designed the building and Reds10 who constructed and assembled the modular components for it.
The process also followed extensive consultation with local residents and testing of activities by the Caring Listening and Supporting Partnership, a self-advocacy charity for adults with learning disabilities.
Highly visible projects like Dinton Active Centre are crucial in demonstrating the steps communities can take to counter the enormous challenges of climate change as highlighted at COP26. The centre opened its doors in September 2021 and has already been enjoyed by many visitors.
Be ambitious –
Our main takeaway from this project is its viability and the sheer number of carbon-saving opportunities available! We would advise anyone looking to pursue something similar to be as ambitious as possible to gain maximum benefits from it and to explore new opportunities such as modular design – despite less proven results – these can deliver impressive savings.
Get specialist advice –
During the initial stages of this project, there were so many options available that it was a challenge to select those which would be most beneficial. By sourcing advice and utilising the experience of specialist architects and construction firms, we identified the optimal design and construction approach. We would advise seeking specialist expertise, particularly for larger projects.
Talk to the community –
It is vital to consult local residents on their opinions, and to do so early in the planning process to avoid costly changes at a later stage. Despite this, there may still be obstacles to overcome. We found that despite the environmental benefits, some of the design elements of the project were viewed negatively by locals from an aesthetic perspective. This meant changes had to be made to overcome these challenges and obtain stakeholder approval.
Our Metrics –
The building utilises a smart system that monitors energy usage and production, as well as general performance. The data this provides will inform how the building performs so that modifications can be made to ensure it is as efficient as possible. It will also help to inform the design of the next generation of carbon-neutral buildings.
Read more: www.wokingham.co.uk