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Shaping a net zero carbon, sustainable hotel

Zeal Hotel, Exeter
Zeal Hotel Exeter hero

In 2022, we supported UK-based hotel developer, Zeal Hotels, with their planning submission to develop a net-zero carbon, sustainable 142-room hotel at Exeter Science Park.

Our integrated engineering, energy and sustainability advice supported the planning submission for a 142-room sustainable hotel at Exeter Science Park.

For Zeal Hotels, their concept is called ‘Mindfully Modern’. As the first truly net-zero hotel, they are creating an industry-leading hotel brand which delivers first-class guest experiences and comfort.

The proposed development seeks to incorporate innovative, low carbon building and operation standards.

As part of our multi-disciplinary delivery, our structural engineers, in collaboration with our fire safety engineers, led the conceptual design delivery to shape the proposed build and construction of the hotel to help achieve net-zero.

Sustainable structural solutions

Our team researched a number of structural solutions and advocated a full timber build using cross-laminated timber (CLT) as the most optimum solution in terms of carbon. This will be sourced from a Dutch supplier, Binderholz whose process is modelled around sourcing timber sustainably and achieving zero waste by utilising the timber resource in its entirety.

The CLT materials solution is helping to achieve the net-zero credentials for the hotel, and has influenced our approach to the structural design. Our fire safety engineers have ensured that this solution meets UK fire regulations whilst also reviewing all the design features for fire safety.

Sustainable civil engineering solutions

Working with the landscape architects, McGregor Coxall, our civil infrastructure design work is also ensuring that the overall scheme meets its sustainability targets.

In collaboration with McGregor Coxall we introduced permeable paving, minimised the surface water run-off, and eliminated the need for underground pipes by designing in swales to transport water. In addition, we advised on a re-working of the site to mitigate the use of retaining walls and other structures around the site, which has also limited the amount of excavation needed.

Our geotechnical specialists have advised on how to reuse excess materials as structural fill, and our transport planning team has provided an overall transport, access and movement strategy for the site.

Carbon verification framework

Supporting the overall process to enable Zeal Hotels to develop the first truly net-zero carbon hotel, our Smart Energy & Sustainability team has produced a framework to deliver a carbon verification and validation process.

Capturing embodied carbon and in-use, operational carbon, this will ensure the design and delivery approach meets the net-zero expectations and provides Zeal Hotels with a justifiable statement on what has been achieved.

Images courtesy of ECE Westworks

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