BREEAM - Staffordshire ERF

Staffordshire Veolia ERF

Recovering energy from Staffordshire's waste

In 2007, Staffordshire County Council established its waste management strategy designed to make sure that there is significant reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill. There was an intensive public consultation carried out in the summer of 2007 that addressed how Staffordshire should deal with its growing mountain of household waste. Over 90% of the thousands of respondents across Staffordshire supported the idea of moving to Zero Waste to Landfill, maximising recycling and moving to generate more energy from the residual waste.

Staffordshire County Council and their partners developed plans in 2008  to stop sending waste to landfill by 2020. Part of these plans involved Project W2R (Waste to Resource) which relates to developing proposals to build an Energy from Waste facility at Four Ashes Industrial Estate. This facility would use the waste which cannot be recycled or composted to generate electricity.

In 2009, Staffordshire County Council obtained planning permission to develop a facility that would deliver energy from waste at Four Ashes. This was necessary so that the County Council could introduce its proposals to local communities and ask interested companies to bid to construct and operate a facility on its behalf.

In May 2010, after a rigorous selection process, Veolia Environmental Services (Veolia) was chosen by Staffordshire County Council as its ‘preferred bidder’ to build and operate an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at the Four Ashes Industrial Estate. Veolia’s plans are based on Staffordshire’s commitment to firstly reduce the amount of waste produced and to significantly increase recycling and composting rates.

In keeping with the County Council’s original proposals, our facility is designed to process 340,000 tonnes of waste every year which is not suitable for recycling or composting. The facility will produce 29MW of energy for the National Grid suitable for powering 66,000 homes.

The development of this facility at Four Ashes forms part of these important objectives and would recover energy from waste that would otherwise be sent to environmentally and financially costly landfill.

BREEAM rating and score

The Staffordshire Energy Recovery Facility has achieved a score of 59.22% and a BREEAM rating of Very Good in the design stage assessment carried out under the 2008 version of BREEAM Bespoke.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) is the world’s leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building’s environmental performance.

Aims and Objectives of BREEAM

Aims of BREEAM

  • To mitigate the impacts of buildings on the environment
  • To enable buildings to be recognised according to their environmental benefits
  • To provide a credible, environmental label for buildings
  • To stimulate demand for sustainable buildings

Objectives of BREEAM

  • To  provide market recognition to low environmental impact buildings
  • To ensure best environmental practice is incorporated in buildings
  • To set criteria and standards surpassing those required by regulation and challenge the market to provide innovative solutions that minimise the environmental impacts of buildings
  • To raise awareness of owners, occupants, designers and operators of the benefits of buildings with a reduced impact on the environment
  • To allow organisations to demonstrate progress towards corporate environment objectives

Building projects are assessed at the design and post-construction stages using a system of environmental issues grouped within the following categories;

  • Management
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Waste
  • Land use & Ecology
  • Pollution
  • Innovation 

BREEAM is developed, operated and maintained by BRE Global Ltd and the operation and direction of the method is overseen by an independent Sustainability Board, representing a wide cross-section of construction industry stakeholders. Further information about BREEAM, including copies of the BREEAM standards, can be found at

Key innovative and low-impact design features of the building

Living Roof

The incorporation of the scheme’s living roof will minimise the impact of using large quantities of insulating materials, the production of which often significantly contributes to carbon emissions. The living roof system proposed on top of the ERF building will help to regulate the flow of rainwater from the roof. The roof space will also create a large green expanse which will create a natural habitat and in turn attract wildlife.

Material Selection

Materials selection was informed by sustainability principles. Selection of construction materials assessed ‘cradle to grave’ concepts and future maintenance requirements. Veolia considered the rating system of the Green Guide to Specification when specifying materials.

Mitigation land

The mitigation land has been enhanced to enable it to compensate for habitats lost on the construction site

The steps taken during the construction process to reduce environmental impacts, i.e. innovative construction management techniques

During the construction a temporary drainage system was put in place to replenish the aquifer, and frequent testing on the water discharging was undertaken to ensure that no contamination of the local water courses occurred.
Other initiatives included:

  • The use of fabric drip trays to prevent the risk of overflowing during periods of heavy rainfall
  • Recycling concrete arising from crushing of piles as sub base
  • Utilising a neighbouring facilities as a washout point for waggons to allow them to recycle the wash down water

A list of any social or economically sustainable measures achieved or piloted

  • Collate and reported on the percentage expenditure from the project that has come from the Staffordshire supply chain.
  • The applicants contractors Health & Safety Policy states that all workers on or regular visitors to a construction site are registered to the relevant Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
  • Achieve as a minimum 32 points for the Considerate Constructors Award
  • To Meet the British Standard for Accessibility BS8300
  • Applicant and contractor to have in place an Equality & Diversity Policy
  • Areas of the building with different functions will have sub-meters installed to enable energy consumption to be measured by area
  • All lighting system will be designed in accordance with the Chartered Institution of Building and Service Engineers (CIBSE) standards and maintained throughout the life of the ERF
  • High frequency ballasts will be fitted for all fluorescent and compact florescent lamps
  • All external lighting will be specified as energy-efficient and all light fittings will be controlled for the presence of daylight.
  • Within office areas, lighting will be appropriately zoned and occupant controllable.
  • Thermal zoning will be provided so that to allow independent adjustment of heating / cooling system within the Administration building.
  • Incorporate low energy features such as low energy light fittings, motion sensitive switches
  • The proposed development will make a significant contribution to the growth and productivity of Staffordshire by ensuring that a suitable disposal route is available for residual waste
  • Reduce impact of noise, where practicable all mechanical operations are contained within buildings
  • Community involvement – appointed communications and education manager to manage waste and energy awareness and education matters

Facts & Figures

  • Basic building cost -  £2400/m²
  • Services cost - £2500/m²
  • External works- £42/m²
  • Gross floor area- 10,695m²
  • Total area of site – 3.9 hectares
  • Function areas and their size 
  • Reception 98 m²
  • Offices 213 m²
  • Meeting Rooms 67 m²
  • Staff Facilities 40 m²
  • Control Room 271 m²
  • Visitor centre 51 m²
  • Kitchenette 15 m²
  • Canteen 53 m²
  • Bottom Ash Hall 3835 m²
  • Workshops 277 m²
  • Changing Rooms 80 m²
  • First Aid Room 6 m²
  • Exhibition Centre 47 m²
  • Area of circulation 380 m²
  • Area of storage 600 m²
  • 1% area of grounds to be used by community
  • 2% area of buildings to be used by community
  • Predicted electricity consumption – 0.29kWh/m²
  • Predicted fossil fuel consumption – 0 kWh/m²
  • Predicted renewable energy generation – 2.5kWh/m²
  • Predicted water use 90 m³/person/year
  • 6 % predicted water use to be provided by rainwater or grey water