Scotland’s first passive community building, the GALE Centre, continues to wow visitors.
The £850,000 state-of-the-art building is a self sustaining structure that has been designed to generate and maintain its own source of heat. The GALE Centre was built to expand existing projects and services for GALE, a local charity working towards improving the environment and the economy.
Gairloch & Loch Ewe Centre General Manager, Janet Miles, said:
“We are a community charity and we are reliant on our Centre for raising awareness of our work so it is fabulous to have this building completed. The feedback from visitors has been very positive, with many wowed by the self sustaining nature of the facility.
“We are getting people coming in through the doors asking questions, and our membership continues to grow.”
Work began on the project in September 2011 and was completed in March 2012. The single storey building includes a shop, a tourist information service, exhibition space and a learning centre.
Morgan Sindall Group Plc was the main contractor on the project and Neil Sutherland Architects was the architect.
Funding for the GALE Centre was provided by the Big Lottery Fund, Highland LEADER Programme, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Community Energy Scotland, Community Land Unit, Social Investment Scotland. Additional funding was sourced through a number of community fundraising schemes through GALE.
The GALE Centre was built from a timber frame construction that has incorporated both Douglas Fir and Scottish Larch, whilst it also features triple glazed windows and extensive insulation using warmcell insulation.
A mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system has been installed to help to remove stale air, which is then recycled through a heat exchanger to heat the building. Air tightness tests were conducted on the building throughout construction in order to ensure that the building remains as energy efficient as possible.
Interestingly, the roof of the Gale Centre is lined with sedum. This was a feature specifically incorporated in the design of the building in order to tie the Centre in with the landscape.
Whilst the Centre is complete and now fully accessible to the public, a small amount of landscaping work is still to be completed on the site.
Janet Miles, said:
“One of the remits on designing this new building was to create a low environmental impact. The building heats up with the sun as well as the body heat generated from staff and visitors, and it is only the second community building of its kind in the UK.
“The Centre is the first passive building that Neil Sutherland Architects has been involved with and they are subsequently looking to replicate this design feature for future projects.”
“The GALE Centre has a very warm, friendly feel to it and I think this is something that is really important for a facility of this nature. We wanted to build something that we could grow in to and this building exceeds our expectations. We are going to rent out two rooms in the Centre for the local college and we will also have different exhibitions here every week.
“The building is much more attractive than what we had previously and the shop now has the potential for generating much more revenue than the previous shop. The money raised from selling items in our shop will be used to fund community projects, so this building will greatly benefit the local community.”
For more information on GALE please visit: www.galeactionforum.co.uk