Green building in the Yorkshire Dales

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When staff in the Yorkshire Dales were planning a new national park head office in 2006, naturally they wanted to make it as energy efficient as possible.

So the new building, named Yoredale and situated just down the road from the previous headquarters in Bainbridge, is very well insulated.

One part of the complex, the meeting room, has been built into a grassy bank and has a hay meadow on its roof.

This provides it with natural insulation and also helps reduce the building's impact on the landscape. It also provides grazing for local sheep!

Other green features include having a ground source heat pump built under the new car park, which extracts warmth from the soil for the building's underfloor heating, and using locally-sourced stone wherever possible.

Plugging peat gaps in the Dales

Recent work to combat climate change in the Yorkshire Dales National Park includes a scheme to 'plug' drainage channels (known as grips) to help reduce the amount of water draining out of the Park's peat soils.

It's part of the work being undertaken by the Yorkshire Peat Partnership (see below).

Tell us about the scheme

  • workmen are using mechanical diggers to extract large 'plugs' of peat to help restore the Park's 50,000 hectares of peat soil
  • these are being used to block up hundreds of kilometres of the artificial drainage channels which were put into the moorland in the 1970s

Why is it being introduced?

Blocking the grips helps slow down the flow of rainwater off the hills so that the moors can go back to their natural role: acting like a giant sponge  peat soaks up rainwater and carbon. As the water table rises it encourages the growth of sphagnum moss, which actually starts to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere - eventually forming new peat.

Want to find out more?

The Yorkshire Peat Partnership is working with moorland owners to restore and then conserve huge swathes of upland peatland habitats.

As well as the Yorkshire Dales National Park, members of the Partnership are the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, National Trust, Environment Agency and North York Moors National Park Authority.

It also receives support from Nidderdale AONB, Pennine Prospects, the Environment Agency, the National Trust, the Moorland Association, the National Farmers Union and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust.

Yoredale's green roof in facts and figures

The 'eco' grass roof - features and benefits:

  1. Soil carefully chosen to be very low in nutrients - making it as similar as possible to soil on surrounding farms (if soil is too rich greedy grass species out-compete the other flowers)
  2. It has been seeded with a plant called yellow-rattle - this helps reduce grass while allowing other flowers to flourish
  3. Local Swaledale sheep (emblem of the National Park) regularly graze the roof - as well as keeping the roof neat and tidy, regular grazing helps flower species continue to build up
  4. An annual crop of hay has already been harvested - this helps to feed livestock over the winter
  5. The turfed roof adds extra insulation - helping keep heating bills down in winter and the building cool in summer
  6. The roof helps the building fit into the landscape - and provides a point of interest for locals and visitors alike

The ground source heat pump works by:

  1. Converting warmth from the earth into energy which is then used in an underfloor heating system
  2. There are eight vertical bore holes in front of the building, each one 105 metres deep
  3. These gather the warmth from the soil in pipes called ground loops which are full of water and antifreeze
  4. The ground loops are connected to heat pumps with an evaporator and a compressor in each
  5. A condenser in the pumps then gives up the resulting heat to feed the pipes in the underfloor heating system

The savings:

The innovations at the Yoredale office has saved the Authority:

  1. £2,500* on its annual heating bill
  2. 12 tonnes of CO2a year - approximately 16% of Yoredale's emissions in 2009/10

*Based on May 2010 oil prices

How can I make my office more energy efficient?