Sustainable Timber Adapt Enterprise Centre

Adapt Enterprise Centre’s sustainable timber earns BREEAM Outstanding

This building is one of the largest timber frame structures in the UK and has achieved a BREEAM rating of Outstanding.


The Adapt Enterprise Centre used locally-sourced timber for its construction, which had never been done before. This achievement opens up possibilities for other projects to use British timber. It underwent BREEAM assessment following a collaboration with the BRE Sustainable Products team.


The Adapt Low Carbon Group is now part of the University of East Anglia (UAE) Research and Innovation Services and is based at the Adapt Enterprise Centre on the UAE campus.


The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia opened in autumn 2015. The 3,400 sq m building is one of the largest timber frame structures in the UK.  The building aimed to demonstrate to that natural products can provide attractive alternatives to conventional technologies.


70% of the studwork for the building came from kiln-dried Corsican Pine sourced locally from the Thetford Forest. This had never been done before and Adapt, through its InCrops project, worked with BRE and the Forestry Commission to test and demonstrate kiln-dried Corsican Pine’s properties and establish the supply chain for construction. The intention of stimulating the market for British wood is gaining traction with Grown in Britain looking at how their licence can add value and build on projects such as the Enterprise Centre.


Some of the key findings from research carried out by the BRE Sustainable Products team paved the way for this groundbreaking building including:

  • Despite the presence of Red Band Needle Blight (RBNB), this project has shown that the disease does not have a negative effect on the timber properties.
  • If innovative twin laminates form a structural frame and flooring as detailed in this report are selected then the 36,000 houses could store an additional 194,400 tonnes CO2. This would also unlock a key substitution effect for replacing the blocks in the structure. A house with 60m³ blocks in its walls has a net emission of 12 tonnes CO2 per house associated with the embodied energy in the blocks. This equates to a saving of 432,000tCO2 for 36,000 houses.
  • Timber technology can add to a limited managed resource in the region. Innovative engineering of wood can utilise more of the standing tree in the construction product; create more construction products per hectare of woodland and store more carbon in our buildings. One of the possible products studied was an innovative inside out beam. This beam uses 85% of the round wood in the final product. A square beam of equivalent performance uses no more than 50% of the round wood in the product. This is not in conflict with existing supply chains.
  • The East of England region can be creative with woodland resource and productivity but it needs a radical change in strategy. For example, if an inside out beam requires a tree of half the maturity of the equivalent square cut beam; in the same time period a hectare yields two times as many beams and possibly up to four times as many beams if planting density can be increased.
  • Corsican pine from Thetford forest is of sufficient quality to be used in a range of structural construction product end uses. It meets as a minimum machinestrength grading “C16” class.


Summary for Case Studies


BREEAM rating:

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