Way of the future

Alex Neil is aided by BRE director Rufus Logan as he cuts the ribbon for the visitors centre
Alex Neil is aided by BRE director Rufus Logan as he cuts the ribbon for the visitors centre

PRIOR to his promotion to health secretary, Alex Neil MSP carried out his final duty as Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment when he opened the new Building Research Establishment (BRE) Innovation Park at Ravenscraig.

Inspired by a similar site in Watford, the park will demonstrate indigenous designs, materials, techniques and technologies to drive construction companies to reduce carbon emissions.

The first completed building is the ‘carbon neutral’ visitor centre which features zoned lighting and heating systems, an air source heat pump, solar water heating, an array of photovoltaic panels to satisfy other energy demands and an extensive building management system to monitor and manage performance.

When complete the park will have 10 buildings, with another five earmarked to be finished this year - the Applegreen Home built with renewable materials; the Zero Waste Scotland House to demonstrate recycling; the Homegrown Timber House created by Anderson Bell and Christie Architects for the Forestry Commission Scotland to showcase Scottish wood; the Curriculum House to provide a learning environment for Motherwell College students and the BRE Refurbished House using historical design and traditional materials to create a ‘four in a block’.

Future builds are planned to develop a Passivhaus, a concrete home, a traditional brick and block house and a retail building.

Cutting the ribbon, Mr Neil, said: “This park is testament to our long and continuing tradition in innovation. The fantastic homes about to be built here will be prototypes for new house designs across Scotland.

“Our commitment under the Climate Change Act to reduce greenhouse gases by 42 per cent by 2020 is challenging, but projects like this will drive the necessary changes in a sector that accounts for over 40 per cent of our total emissions.

“It will also create new international markets for the Scottish construction industry and its supply chain.”

Director of BRE Scotland Rufus Logan added: “The park is all about innovation and applying this to the challenges we face as a society, not only around reducing carbon emissions but creating a better quality of life for our people.

“Scotland has the highest proportion of households in fuel poverty in the UK – almost one in four households is spending more than 10 per cent of its total income on energy to heat and run the home. This needs to be addressed and the park will provide the catalyst to make this happen.”

Scottish Enterprise has provided financial support and there is also investment from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund.

Managing director Jim McFarlane said: “This project resonates well with our own business objectives of supporting innovation, business growth and internationalisation by seeking to develop low carbon markets for Scottish industry.”