Two weeks ago I went with Cllr Parry Batth to help break ground on the first net zero carbon building in Wokingham borough, the new Dinton Pastures Country Park on Tuesday. The building, which will replace the existing Dinton Activity Centre, has been designed with eco-friendly features that aim to achieve net zero carbon in terms of operational energy use. The building is expected to be complete by spring 2021.

In July 2019, I proudly voted with council to declare a climate emergency and since then I have been working tirelessly with our office building the plan to reduce our carbon footprint to net zero by 2030. Eight key priorities to tackle climate change have been identified, which includes a target to achieve net zero carbon emission in its corporate assets.

The replacement Dinton Activity Centre includes a number of environmentally friendly technologies, such as air source heat pumps, increased use of natural ventilation via innovative wind catchers on the roof and extensive solar panels on the roof and in the car park. The building is being built off-site using modular construction and using materials to reduce the embodied carbon emissions during manufacturing as much as possible.

Wokingham Borough Council is being hugely ambitious – setting ourselves a target of being carbon neutral by 2030 and while we have a long way to go, we are well on our way. Not only will the new Dinton Activity Centre be net zero carbon, it will actually be an energy positive building – the first in the borough.

The current Dinton Activity Centre takes its energy from the national grid, much of which is generated using fossil fuel (gas) power, which gives off carbon as it is burned. The new building will generate all of its own power (using solar panels and heat pumps), and in this case, because of all the other energy efficiency measures that will be installed, even in the winter it will generate more green energy than it uses.

The new Dinton Activity Centre will be an incredible asset to our residents, it will be a new state of the art facility overlooking the lake, with wonderful watersports facilities and fully accessible changing facilities. The coffee shop will have an indoor and an outdoor seating area and will also be a draw as we all know how popular the Dragonfly Café across the way is.

Michael Ruddick, director at Reds10 told Cllr Batth and I “We are thrilled to be working with Wokingham Borough Council and HLM architects on this projects. We are challenging what is possible with off-site construction with a non-standard design that not only includes cutting edge eco-technology, but also uses external materials and features that will tie the building into the site for a seamless integration of the building with the natural landscape it sits in.”

Alex Pullin, project architect at HLM Architects, added: “We are very pleased that this new centre has now progressed to the construction phase. This building stands out for a design that is centred on sustainability and its eco-friendly credentials, falling in line with the council’s vision of a net zero carbon future. Additionally, the exterior is designed to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding natural landscape, in order to connect the building with its park settings. We look forward to residents and visitors being able to enjoy this facility in the near future.”

The existing Dinton Activity Centre will remain open throughout the build of the replacement building. Car parking will be slightly limited and there will be some changes to the pedestrian access.

The new two storey activity centre will include an activity hall, coffee shop, lake side terrace, meeting rooms, ‘changing spaces’ facility and cycle parking.

The all new eco-friendly Dinton Activity Centre is expected to open in spring 2021.

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