The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products


Dartford, Kent

SusCon, a sustainable construction training and research centre is a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ education building, designed by Stephen George & Partners for a public/private partnership led by Dartford Borough Council, ProLogis and North West Kent College.

SusCon offers pioneering new courses in sustainable construction as well as providing a facility for research and demonstrations of innovative construction methodologies. Its 1400m2 building comprises three different structures: a steel frame workshop building, a timber frame breakout facility and a concrete frame teaching block, which includes ten classrooms, office areas, a kitchen and a café. Various finishes were employed for different elements of the building, including timber cladding, Natural Building Technologies' (NBT) Natureplus certified Baumit render and aluminium timber composite curtain walling.

The rendered timber frame walls are insulated using NBT’s Natureplus certified Diffutherm woodfibre insulation system, creating an airtight and highly insulated structure. The system features NBT’s Diffutherm woodfibre external wall insulation, which is fixed directly to the timber cassettes. The cassettes are infilled with Thermafleece sheepswool insulation, provided by NBT, and are lined internally with OSB.

Similarly, the timber clad timber frame walls feature the NBT's Natureplus certified Pavaclad system. Beneath the cladding is NBT’s Natureplus certifed Pavatherm Plus woodfibre insulation, fixed in a continuous layer over the timber frame. Thermafleece infill insulation is installed within the timber cassettes and OSB is again used on the internal face.

Both the Diffutherm and Pavaclad systems form a thermal shell, which reduces thermal bridging and has achieved a U-value of 0.18W/m2K for the exterior walls and an airtightness level of 7.08m3/hr/m2@50Pa. The building’s low heat loss contributes significantly to the achievement of an expected CO2 emissions level of only 7.9kg/m2/year.

NBT’s woodfibre insulation meets with the building’s responsible sourcing, low toxicity and high recycled content material requirements. It locks up more carbon than is used throughout its manufacture and delivery to site, and, due to its 95% plus waste wood composition, is wholly recyclable.

The building also employs various other sustainability measures, including the use of a biomass boiler to provide renewable energy, rainwater harvesting for the flushing of toilets and provisions for solar thermal panels.