HS2 station wins world-first ‘Outstanding’ certificate for sustainable design

The design for HS2's Interchange station has been awarded a BREEAM 'Outstanding' certificate.

HS2’s Interchange station, which will be built near Solihull and the NEC in the West Midlands and will both serve Birmingham Airport and act as the junction for the spur to Birmingham Curzon Street from the main line to Crewe and the North, has become the first railway station to achieve BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification.

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de-facto measure used to describe the sustainability performance of buildings.

Being awarded an interim ‘Outstanding’ certificate at the design stage puts Interchange station in the top one per cent of buildings in the UK and is a first for any railway station in the world. It recognises the station’s eco-friendly features, which include maximising natural daylight and ventilation, a station roof design which can capture and reuse rainwater and additional features that will enable net zero-carbon emissions from day-to-day energy consumption.

HS2 and Arup designers have included many features to improve sustainability and reduce carbon emissions.

Sustainable features

Energy-efficient technology will be incorporated, such as air source heat pumps and LED lighting. In addition, the station and the maintenance facility for the automated people mover will have over 2,000 square metres of solar panels generating zero-carbon electricity.

Directing rainwater from the main station building via a network of underground pipes into a rainwater harvesting tank will assist in providing part of the building’s water requirements. The estimated volume of the rainwater harvesting tank is 150 cubic metres, which will reduce the mains water demand for the station.

Landscaping features include sustainable drainage systems to reduce the burden on surface water drainage whilst naturally irrigating planted areas, and there will be new natural habitats created around the station, leaving a legacy of biodiversity and an enhancement of native species. 

There will be 222 electric vehicle charging points in the car park, as well as cycle storage for 176 bicycles, with further room for expansion as demand dictates. There will also be dedicated pedestrian access into the station from the east of the railway, along with cycle access to the new station from the north, west and south-east through a mixture of dedicated routes.

Peter Miller, HS2.

HS2 environment and town planning director Peter Miller said: “Our aim is to design, construct and operate HS2 to reduce carbon and to minimise the effect of the project on the environment.

“Our stations will be amongst the most environmentally friendly stations in the world, so this certification is fantastic news for Interchange station. In building the station, we are also committed to sourcing and making efficient use of sustainable materials, reducing waste and maximising the proportion of material diverted from landfill.

“All leading environmental organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s drive to net zero carbon emissions.”

The HS2 and Arup teams working on the Interchange station have developed design solutions which use renewable technologies and lean design and which achieve a holistic sustainable design in the wider landscaping and urban realm.

HS2 has set ambitious targets for minimising the whole life carbon emissions of its assets. For stations, this includes achieving net-zero carbon in operation for regulated emissions and achieving a 50 per cent reduction in whole-life carbon emissions against a baseline for a typical station.

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