Great Blakenham energy-from-waste facility rated ‘outstanding’ by BREEAM in boost to green energy

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Photograph Simon Parker

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

The energy-from-waste facility (EfW) at Great Blakenham has been named as one of the greenest buildings in the country after achieving an ‘outstanding’ rating from international assessors.

It is the first industrial building in East Anglia to be awarded the top grade from BREEAM, which aims to encourage low-carbon, low-impact designs.

The EfW, launched in December 2014 and run by Suffolk County Council (SCC) and SUEZ, uses household and business waste as a fuel to generate enough electricity for 30,000 homes. Metals are recycled and ash left after the incineration process is used as an aggregate for building projects.

Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment and public protection at SCC, said: “Energy-from-waste provides a cheaper, greener alternative to landfill. Over the 25 year life of the contract it will be at least £350 million cheaper and greenhouse gases are being reduced by 75,000 tonnes a year, compared to landfill.

“But it is not just the process which has environmental benefits – the building itself has now proved to be among the best designs under a scheme which measures the social, environmental and economic sustainability of buildings.”


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Under the BREEAM scheme, points are awarded for every environmental feature incorporated into the design, construction and operation of a building.

Features at the Suffolk site include:

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Design – the building features the same giant ‘plastic pillow’ roof used in the Eden Project in Cornwall. This allows in lots of natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

Construction – the old highways building, which once stood on the site, was used in the foundations for the new building and all of the materials used in construction came from sustainable sources.

Use – rainwater is collected on site and is then used in the energy-from-waste process; the site powers itself and exports excess electricity to the National Grid.

Paul Leighton, plant manager for SUEZ, added: “To achieve ‘outstanding’ is an exceptional achievement and it is testament to the determination and hard work of all those involved to make this facility the best.”

The facility was designed by world-renowned architects Grimshaw and the main contractors were CNIM/Lagan.

SUEZ has paid for the £180 million building, and a government grant from Defra, worth nearly £200 million over the 25-year life of the contract, will help to cover the running costs.

Clive Arthey, chairman of the Suffolk Waste Partnership, which includes the county, district and borough councils, and which sends waste to the facility, added: “In Suffolk we remain committed to increasing recycling, but this facility provides us with a great solution for the waste that can’t be recycled.”

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