This European and North American building products wholesaler employs more than 80,000 people in 5,000 distribution centres, including 1,800 branches across the UK.
One of the newest additions to the network is in Leamington Spa and is designed to showcase sustainable building technology.
The construction sector has a key role to play in relation to a range of environmental issues. The sector accounts for approximately one third of all waste in the UK. It has a significant role to play in relation to water issues both in regards to water conservation as some areas experience drought, but also to help reduce flood risk in others through improved drainage systems. Finally, building design and construction has a huge impact on energy efficiency and ongoing operating costs as well as carbon footprints.
Despite this, and growing consumer concern about product lifecycles, this was not translating into increased specification of more sustainable options for building products.
To raise awareness of more sustainable options within the construction sector Wolseley established a Sustainable Business Centre. The centre is both a physical building and an online resource centre aimed at the entire construction value chain from architects to building specifiers and jobbing builders.
The site, at Leamington Spa, is some 6,800 square feet and cost 3.2 million GBP to construct. It features many sustainable techniques in its own design including photovoltaics, micro wind, sedum roof, e-glazing, natural lighting and insulation, green floor coverings, mini combined heat and power (CHP), rainwater harvesting, biomass, ground source heat pumps, engineered timber, low energy lighting, water saving devices, solar thermal and sustainable drainage. It also profiles computer-based home energy management systems to monitor and measure energy consumption and costs.
Visits to the centre are by appointment only to ensure that there is sufficient time allocated to discuss requirements. However, there are also a number of open days held throughout the year for the general public
Important to the success has been the development of relationships with suppliers, many of whom are emerging businesses. This has included capacity building to help them meet supplier requirements. The site also has space for training sessions and product launches.
Products available include:
- Bathroom, toilets and brassware, with a focus on water conservation;
- Heating and ventilation;
- Renewable technology;
- Wall finishes;
- Windows and doors;
- Drainages and water conservation;
- Electrical and lighting;
- Wall and floor construction.
Prior to opening, more than 100 visits had already been scheduled. Since its April 2009 opening more than 10,000 people, many from leading developers and property companies, have visited the centre.
The site has won a number of awards, including Best Sustainable Construction Project 2000 for the building itself from the Edie Awards for Environmental Excellence, as well as the Prince’s May Day Awards for Carbon Positive Consumer Choices and the overall Carbon Positive Pioneer Award.
The products showcased at Leamington can now be ordered in all Wolseley’s UK stores and online, bringing sustainable building products into the mainstream.