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Natural Building Technologies’ (NBT’s) high performance woodfibre insulation systems have been used in the construction of SusCon, a sustainable construction training and research centre. Following a recent BREEAM Education 2008 design stage assessment, the building has been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ rating with a score of 88.85%. This is the highest BREEAM score ever achieved for an education building.

Located in Dartford, Kent, SusCon was designed by Stephen George & Partners for a public/private partnership led by Dartford Borough Council, ProLogis and North West Kent College. The construction provides an exemplar airtight and highly insulated building which boasts the sustainable materials and construction methods, high level skills and best practices that SusCon promotes.

SusCon offers pioneering new courses in sustainable construction as well as providing a facility for research and demonstrations of innovative construction methodologies. Its 1400m2 building comprises three different structures: a steel frame workshop building, a timber frame breakout facility and a concrete frame teaching block, which includes ten classrooms, office areas, a kitchen and a café. Various finishes were employed for different elements of the building, including timber cladding, NBT’s Baumit render and aluminium timber composite curtain walling.

The rendered timber frame walls are insulated using NBT’s Diffutherm woodfibre insulation system, creating an airtight and highly insulated structure. The system features NBT’s Diffutherm woodfibre external wall insulation, which is fixed directly to the timber cassettes. The cassettes are infilled with Thermafleece sheepswool insulation, provided by NBT, and are lined internally with OSB.

Similarly, the timber clad timber frame walls feature the NBT Pavaclad system. Beneath the cladding is NBT’s Pavatherm Plus woodfibre insulation, fixed in a continuous layer over the timber frame. Thermafleece infill insulation is installed within the timber cassettes and OSB is again used on the internal face.

Both the Diffutherm and Pavaclad systems form a thermal shell, which reduces thermal bridging and has achieved a U-value of 0.18W/m2K for the exterior walls and an airtightness level of 7.08m3/hr/m2@50Pa. The building’s low heat loss contributes significantly to the achievement of an expected CO2 emissions level of only 7.9kg/m2/year.

NBT’s woodfibre insulation meets with the building’s responsible sourcing, low toxicity and high recycled content material requirements. It locks up more carbon than is used throughout its manufacture and delivery to site, and, due to its 95% plus waste wood composition, is wholly recyclable.

The building also employs various other sustainability measures, including the use of a biomass boiler to provide renewable energy, rainwater harvesting for the flushing of toilets and provisions for solar thermal panels.

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