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Glyndŵr University harnesses power of the sun

16 March 2011

Glyndŵr University’s groundbreaking new £5 million media and communications centre is being powered by the sun.

The state-of-the-art Creative Industries Centre at the Wrexham campus is looking to the skies for its electricity thanks to North Wales-based renewable energy company Carbon Zero UK.

They have installed 22 solar-powered photo voltaic panels on the roof of the futuristic building which also boasts a ‘green’ sedum roof, rainwater harvesting and a host of sustainable building techniques in its construction.

Gareth Jones, Director of Carbon Zero UK, the St Asaph firm that has installed the solar energy system, said: “This is cutting edge technology that will reduce the building’s ‘carbon footprint’ by nearly two tons a year and generate about 3,500 hours of electricity.

“We are really pleased to have been involved in the construction of such a prestigious building and it underlines how important the new ‘green’ technologies are for the future of the construction industry.

“We have even ensured that there aren’t many carbon miles involved in using the solar panels as they were made locally at the Sharp factory in Wrexham.”

The new building has been built by construction giant ISG to a design by Wrexham-based Lawray Architects and will have its official opening on Thursday, March 31.

It will house new TV, radio and production suites and will become the new home of the BBC in north east Wales.

It is intended to create a centre of excellence to encourage the growth of creative industries such as art and design, computing, theatre and performance and the humanities in North Wales.

Its innovative design includes sophisticated measures to prevent water pollution and a special display to illustrate just how much energy the building is saving – and generating.

ISG estimate it could provide enough energy to save the university up to £3,000 a year and Gareth Jones added: “There really has never been a better time to go ‘green’ and solar power is just one of the many new technologies available today, many of which have been incorporated into this fantastic new building.
“Solar power is a fantastic option for buildings with large roof areas and is also a realistic opportunity for homes as well.

“We’re delighted to have been involved in such a prestigious project and it shows that these technologies and the expertise to install them exist in North Wales.”

The use of photovoltaic panels reflects the university’s commitment to research within the field of solar energy at its Centre for Solar Energy Research in St Asaph.

Keith Harwood, director at Lawray Architects, said: “The need to create buildings which have a limited impact on the environment is becoming increasingly important and the Creative Industries Centre will have a BREEAM Excellent Rating – recognition that it meets the highest standards for sustainable design.

“Aside from the obvious energy-saving features which have been included in the building, the building’s flexibility is at the heart of its sustainable design. It is adaptable, so there is scope for the university to change or adapt its use in future. The Creative Industries Centre should be performing just as well in 2031 as it will be in 2011.”

Professor Michael Scott, Vice-Chancellor of Glyndŵr University, said: “The Creative Industries building marks another exciting step for the University and its continued expansion.

“The creative industries are estimated to be worth as much as £85 billion to the UK economy by 2013 and the University will be in an outstanding position to contribute to this through this new centre once it is completed.

“The presence of the BBC within the centre is a stamp of approval for the high standard of its TV, radio and online production facilities which will benefit not only our students but the people of north east Wales for years to come.”

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