I visited this building, which is the new office space for the people responsible for York’s waste and recycling collections and highway maintenance.
The walls of the building are made from straw bales which are held together on a timber frame. This results in an environment so highly insulated that it is three times more energy efficient than current British building regulations require.
The EcoDepot has solar panels on the south part of its roof to generate electricity. This is used by the building and it is planned to sell any spare electricity back to the National Grid.
Rainwater is collected from the roofs of the workshops to wash the council’s vehicles. The vehicle wash will recycle water to reduce consumption by 50%. Previous systems used drinking water for this task.
A computerised system monitors the temperature and air quality of the building. This system controls the heating automatically, including opening and closing the windows. While we were there the windows opened from time to time, sometimes only for short periods. We are in the coldest period of the year just now, and the heating is on for just a couple of hours each day.
The first classes of school-children have already visited the building, and many more are expected in the coming months, along with architects, planners, and others looking for information about environmental issues, sustainable development and construction.