Building type Business
Building age post 2000
Location Reydon, Near Southwold
Cost of work £ 5,700,000
District Suffolk Coastal
Features Solar Hot Water Heating,Solar PV Panels,Green Sedum Roof,Natural Materials,Rainwater Harvesting,Insulation and Glazing,Climate Adapted

This is the primary site for Adnams Warehousing and Distribution, Customer Services and Cellar Services. It measures 4400m² in area. Located on the edge of Southwold, it is likely to be one of the first industrial buildings to attain a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating

The building has the biggest sedum roof in Britain, at 0.6 hectares and has outstanding thermal performance.  Energy savings are £49,000 per annum, based on 2006 fuel prices.

Carbon sequestration – there is the equivalent of 100 to 150 tonnes of CO2 locked up within the walls at Adnams Distribution Centre. A conventional brick and block building of the same size would have been responsible for about 300 to 600T of CO2 emissions. This means that we have made a saving of at least 450 tonnes of CO2 by using lime/hemp construction.

Sustainability Features

Lime/Hemp walls

 All walls are built from blocks made of lime, quarry waste and hemp. The current resurgence of interest in hemp products is because of its excellent mechanical, insulating and environmental qualities. Standard U value regulations are set at 0.35 for walls – the Adnams Distributions centre will achieve 0.18. Over 90,000 lime & hemp blocks were used in the construction, making this the biggest building in the UK to use this material. The lime comes from Derbyshire and the hemp was locally grown in East Anglia.

Glulam Wood Beams

 The huge curved roof is supported on glulam (glued and laminated) timber beams running approximately 60m across the building, to provide a 35m column-free space within the main warehouse. These are the longest glulam beams ever to be delivered to UK.

 All materials used in the beams were sourced from controlled sustainable sources in Scandinavia. The current trend (ie FSC/PEFC) only certifies what the Scandinavian foresters have been doing for decades. The sources guarantee legality of logging as well as sustainability.

Green Roof

The massive glulam beams support the biggest green roof in Britain, at 0.6 hectares. A sedum roof has been chosen to enhance the setting and to promote biodiversity within the site. The green roof helps to lower the U-values and to regulate the internal temperature. It will also provide a vast rainwater catchment area, enabling us to harvest most of the water we need to use on site. Sedum roofs provide active insulation, keeping a building warm in winter and cool in summer. Green roofs filter out pollutants from the air and help purify it. They provide a natural habitat for fauna that is lost in standard construction processes.

Golpla paving

In order to minimize the area of concrete, a reinforced grass surface has been used for car parking to blend in with the adjacent grassland. Golpla is a strong, honeycomb mesh, made from low-density recycled plastic. It controls erosion. It provides sustainable drainage and control of storm water.

Energy and Water

The main concern has been to minimize temperature fluctuations in the warehouse, to ensure that the famous Adnams beers are stored in optimal conditions. This is achieved through the insulation properties of the lime/hemp walls, the glulam beams and the green roof, through careful control of goods in and out, and through the use of passive ventilation.

The energy savings that result from this approach are significant, compared to the costs that would be incurred in a traditional industrial unit.

We shall also be harvesting and re-cycling almost all the water used on the site, for washing vehicles, flushing toilets etc. As water becomes an increasingly scarce and expensive commodity, the financial savings from this approach should also be considerable.

Heat and Light

Natural daylight to the warehouse is provided by clerestory windows and roof lights. Excessive heat gain and solar glare through the office windows has been minimized by the use of overhanging eaves and brise-soleil screens at the southern end of the main building. Two collector solar panels on the roof will provide up to 80% of the Distribution Centre’s requirements for hot water. Movement sensors for lighting are installed throughout the complex. The lights will automatically switch off if there is no one in that part of the building.


Distribution results in frequent loadings and unloadings – but it is essential to store Adnams beers at a constant temperature of about 11ºc.  All entrances to the warehouse are entered via a buffer space to avoid excessive temperature fluctuations in the storage areas. A time delay on the doors will allow vehicle emissions to escape before the outer doors are closed and the inner set opened. The first floor open plan office will be naturally ventilated by means of openable windows.

Water and Drainage

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems enable rainwater to be harvested from the roof and other surface areas, for use in cleaning the vehicles, flushing toilets, etc.

Foul water treatment plant is undertaken via a septic tank and the re-use of existing ponds within the site (with an option for the use of reed beds for sewage treatment). Low flush WCs will be used as a water saving measure.


Design Process

The building was designed to meet three objectives that are widely believed to be mutually incompatible,

  • Minimal environmental impact
  • Maximum operational efficiency
  • Superior returns on investment

We believe that all three objectives have been or will be achieved, in a building that sets new standards for environmental efficiency, will be a pleasure to work in and looks wonderful.

The site has several natural advantages for its present purpose.

  •  It is close to our Brewery in Southwold
  • It allows much of the development to be shielded from view
  • It minimizes the local impact of noise and nocturnal light
  • It provides an element of natural thermal stability to the Warehouse building because it is sunk beneath normal ground level
  • It provides space for future expansion, should that be required




Green Lifestyle

In summary; the very thermally efficient hemp/lime walls and green sedum roof have meant the building has a low embodied carbon impact and continues to have a low carbon impact in its operation.

The re-location to the new site of our Warehousing & Distribution, Cellar Services and Customer Services (which previously operated from an increasingly cramped site close to the heart of Southwold) will significantly reduce journey miles for Adnams employees and delivery vehicles and produces major environmental benefits for the town itself.

  • Reduction of approximately 60 Heavy Goods Vehicle movements and 20 van deliveries a day, in and out of the Southwold.
  • Reduction of approximately 60 employee cars, entering, leaving and parking in the town.
  • Elimination of noise and other disturbance to our neighbours.
  • The opportunity to redevelop the previous Distribution site in Southwold, in ways that will enhance the texture of the town.



The building was designed to meet three objectives that are widely believed to be mutually incompatible,

  • Minimal environmental impact
  • Maximum operational efficiency
  • Superior returns on investment

It has achieved BREEAM excellent rating without compromising the requirements of business efficiency. We believe that all objectives have been or will be achieved, in a building that sets new standards for environmental efficiency, will be a pleasure to work in and looks wonderful.


Suppliers and Professional Services Used

Architect: Aukett Fitzroy Robinson,

Structural Engineer: Faber Maunsell

Lime and Hemp Supplier: Lime Technology

Main Contractor: Haymills



David Alsop Sustainability Award 2007