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Green Build Hub: A New Model for Testing Building Fabrics

This guest post about the launch of the Green Build Hub in the UK has been provided by David Thomas. Read about this location that tests experimental building materials and methodologies.

In a green corner of the UK a new project is underway, called the Green Build Hub.

The Green Build Hub will be the home of experimental building materials and techniques, a "living laboratory" that will never be 'finished'. Instead it will be rebuilt constantly, in order to question new materials and try out installation techniques. The CEO is a man named Paul Bright, a master carpenter who believes building fabrics are the key to sustainable architecture.

The materials and methods being tested at the GBH might be (a) newly developed, or they might be (b) traditional but being deployed in new ways. Performance will be observed and recorded over a period of time, and then dismantled so that others can be tested. To most people this will be a new concept – and surely a monument to renewable, sustainable building should be tweaked, amended, rebuilt often.

Here is a photo of Paul, and a drawing.

Here is a photo of Paul, and a drawing.

All this is happening in the UK, where the sustainability capital is not London but Cornwall, a place in the south west known for sailing, surfing, fishing and clotted cream on scones at teatime.

Cornwall is where the UK's first wind power experiments were conducted, where the first ground source heat pumps were tested, and where much of the UK's geothermal activity is carried out. It's at the forefront of hydro power with the UK Wave Hub, a submarine system that generates electricity from buoys. Cornwall is also home to the most solar PV installations in the UK.

The Green Build Hub is a project run by Paul as part of the Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust (CSBT). His vision is to create a "living laboratory for the growing green-building market in Cornwall and beyond". Such a thing has not existed before.

What the Green Build Hub will look like.

What the Green Build Hub will look like.

Paul had no problem raising funds to build a modestly sized structure, but then someone at the Eden Project* heard about the Green Build Hub. It captured their imagination and they invited him to situate the GBH on Eden Project land, and build on a bigger scale.

*The Eden Project – Cornwall's famous string of biomes, each containing plants from around the world.

Here you can see the GBH on the Eden Project site.

Here you can see the GBH on the Eden Project site.

Paul's belief is that sustainability must be built into the architecture's fabric. The GBH will accept experimental building materials and incorporate them into the very flesh of its design. (Speaking at Sustainability Live earlier this year I personally witnessed Paul, after his talk, agreeing to take and test some material manufactured by an audience member.)

The value of the GBH is having a site for ongoing interrogation of building materials and methods, not in a lab, but in the world. The GBH will be open to the public, a learning resource for curious children, students and professionals looking for insight. It will be a public-facing trailblazer for sustainable building practises.

The GBH will provide a training centre that educates about building practises, as well as being a practical reference library for people concerned with sustainable design to visit and observe. The CSBT and other partner organisations will have office space onsite, so if you're visiting and have any questions, now you know who to ask.

Author: David Thomas writes about energy efficiency, cleantech and renewables for "I take an interest in new research and government policy. You can reach me at @theecoexperts."

Graphics: Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust website.)