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Sustainable construction in Defence

The Sandhurst Block is a grade II historic building with an old brown brick look and clock with roman numerals in the middle of it. It was refurbished to represent a modern look inside but keep the historic features of the building.
The Sandhurst Block was refurbished using materials that replicated the look of the existing historic building. [Copyright/Tetratech]
The MOD’s sustainability strategy aims to reduce defence’s contribution to carbon and greenhouse emissions on the defence estate. Sustainable construction is where we’ve built infrastructure or worked on projects that have innovated in fields by using new materials or design, managing resources effectively, reusing historic buildings such as the Sandhurst Block at Bourlon Barracks or designing our infrastructure to be climate resilient.

By making our infrastructure sustainable, we can help make it more resilient to future social, economic and environmental threats and ensure that we can meet the future needs of our Armed Forces. In this blog, I’d like to highlight some projects we’ve been working on that have used sustainable construction.

Submarine, Escape, Rescue Abandonment and Survival project at HMNB Clyde

The new Submarine Escape, Rescue Abandonment and Survival (SMERAS) project at HMNB Clyde achieved a DREAM excellent rating for the construction stage. DREAM is an environmental performance assessment tool for new build and refurbishment projects which ensures that all clients, designers and project managers manage environmental issues effectively.

The project used various energy saving technology including a combined heat and power unit which is used to heat the training pool, LED lightning and has extensive lightning controls which reduce usage in unused areas. Water saving units and leak detection alarms have been installed to conserve water.

The project has an earth retaining wall running the length of the site which was constructed using site won material. This has helped to reduce the amount of materials needed for construction.

Solar panels at the Northern Ammunition Jetty, Scotland

The Northern Ammunition Jetty in Scotland is being upgraded to make it suitable for the Royal Navy's surface fleet to load and unload ammunition. The jetty sits on Loch Lomand, there is a little white boat for workers to get onto the jetty and mountains in the background.
The jetty will be used by the Royal Navy's existing vessels and is being refurbished to make it suitable for the new aircraft carriers [Crown Copyright/MOD2020]
The redevelopment of the Northern Ammunition Jetty in Loch Lomond, Scotland has used solar panels to provide navigational aids with power without having to use the national grid. It has also saved the team at DIO and VolkerStevin from laying electrical cables into the seabed.

Concrete batching plant at RAF Lakenheath

A hard air sheltar is being demolished at RAF Lakenheath. There is a lot of stone rubble on the ground and only part of the air shelter remaining. A demolition van is located on the left next to the rubble.
Work has included demolition of some existing buildings and facilities as well as construction of new ones. [Crown Copyright / MOD 2019]
We installed a new temporary concrete batching plant at RAF Lakenheath which has helped to reduce lorry traffic for the F35 project by 39% to and from the site as the concrete is produced on site, instead of being brought in by a mixer lorry. Around 20,000 tonnes of concrete and hard standing has been crushed and re-used for the programme.

Project Wellesley 

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know what Project Wellesley is, but for those of you that don’t this project involves building world-class tri-service facilities for military personnel at Worthy Down and creating Mindenhurst, a residential development at the former Princess Royal Barracks.

The HQ Regimental building at Worthy Down [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]
The project team has carried out a number of sustainability initiatives. Once built, the Mindenhurst development will create 59 hectares of green space and produce 413,000kwh of electricity annually from over 1,600 photovoltaic panels, helping to save around 58,000 a year.

The single living accommodation blocks have been constructed using a combination of traditional and modular methods which help to reduce carbon emissions. The buildings also meet modern design standards in terms of thermal insulation, air leakage and heat recovery.

Britannia Royal Naval College physical development centre

Specific materials were used to complete work on the new state-of-the-art physical training centre for the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth to make it sustainable and resilient to climate change. The materials ensured that the building blended seamlessly into its surroundings whilst maintaining consideration for both the historic significance of BRNC and the wider community in Dartmouth.

The Britannia Royal Naval College has been built to blend seamlessly into its surroundings while maintaining consideration for both the historic significance of BRNC and the wider community. The building has long windows at the front.
Britannia Royal Naval College’s newly completed physical training centre [Crown Copyright/MOD2020]
The facility is equipped with both solar thermal heating to reduce gas demand on the hot water supply and has photovoltaic panels to reduce the use of electricity. Wind catchers on the roof will help to naturally ventilate the sports hall.

These are just some of the ways that we use sustainable construction in our infrastructure. DIO is committed to sustainable practices in all we do. Keep an eye on our blog for more information on our commitment to sustainability or have a look at the latest Sanctuary magazine.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Poppy posted on

    It's fantastic to see the diverse applications of solar in practise! From off-grid systems on a jetty in Scotland, to a Naval College in Dartmouth... generating electricity to heating water... it's great to see the MOD embracing sustainability, as we all should be. I hope that the sustainability doesn't end at the construction of the building but becomes an integral part of our culture, military or not. Great article and great read.
    I support our local <a href=""<solar energy company</a> in Portsmouth, where of course we do have a rather impressive naval base ourselves, though unfortunately not seen on this list.


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