THIS new £2million eco-friendly building in the heart of Rochford uses the same amount of energy to heat it as it takes to boil a kettle.
The new Centre for Disability Studies, in Rocheway, is due to be completed later this month, and will be the first of its kind in England offering training and advice for disabled people.
For staff and volunteers, the new building marks the end of years of hard work to secure cash for the building, but it also promises to be one of the most environmentally-friendly in south Essex.
Richard Boyd, chief executive of Disability Essex, which is behind the project, said eco-friendly measures put in place allow the building to generate most of its own power.
He said: “There are photo-voltaic plates, which capture energy from the sun, to provide 60 per cent of the whole building’s power.
“The green roof is Sedum turf, which is attractive to bees and butterflies. It also acts as a filter for rainwater, and we can use that water for watering the garden.
“The walls of the centre have a foot of polystyrene insulation.
“The idea of the building is that it is a box. It never lets air in or out unless we want it to, so there are no drafts.
“There are no foundations, the bottom is a concrete raft on insulation a foot thick then on sand, then on gravel.
“The south wing will have training facilities in there. All of the lights in the building only come on when you are in the room, and go off when you go out.”
Mr Boyd said the centre will provide training space, as well as areas for community groups to hold events and meetings.
He said: “The site is accessed through electric gates with security keys, and it is going to be available to youth clubs in the evening.”
There is also a big focus on the independence of people with disabilities, and the building has been designed to make it as easy as possible for anyone with any type of disability to use the centre.
Mr Boyd added: “All of the floor panels in the rooms lift up, and underneath are all of the cables – there is never a cable on the floor, which is good for wheelchair users.
The blinds are contained in the windows, which are triple glazed. The blinds are between panes one and two, while the second space acts as an insulator. The roof has 2ft of insulation.
The project, partly funded by the East of England Development Agency and with cash from a huge fundraising campaign, was launched in January 2004 and groundwork began in March last year.
Mr Boyd added: “It has taken us a long while to realise this dream.
“Without the support of a loyal team of staff and volunteers, it would have been far more difficult.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say a personal, and very public, thank-you to the team – for putting up with discomfort and difficulty along the way, and keeping faith with the charity.”