In July, David Cameron confirmed his commitment to the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award, sponsored by BIS (the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) and the Cabinet Office.
But what, you may ask, does this have to do with environmental engineering? Well, this year, up against prestigious developments such as the Acacia Centre in London and the Theatre Royal Bath in the Small Civil Engineering Project shortlist (up to £3m), is Welsh Water‘s Cardiff WwTW digesters.
Designed to convert waste into biogas, the digesters were constructed at Welsh Water’s Cardiff and Afan WwTW to generate 5MW of power. The largest of these installations was at the Cardiff site, with two 22m-diameter, 22m-high reinforced concrete digester tanks sitting on 2,900m3 raft foundations. The principal designer on this project was Arup, with Morgan Sindall as principal contractors.
The Prime Minister’s Public Building Award is assessed as part of the British Construction Industry Awards, and it’s interesting, if not telling, that an industrial engineering installation could win a building award.
Appreciation of buildings similar to this is not entirely new; there is widespread interest in water towers, now often considered as architectural landmarks. However, these structures often date from the industrial revolution, and the appreciation may be deemed as merely nostalgic.
It is refreshing to see new technology, which really does help to create better living environments, being highlighted in this way. With the shortlist being billed as the ‘the most rigorously judged in the construction world’, the award considers a range of criteria: whole life cost, procurement method and economic and social value, as well as satisfaction, safety and team working.
Winners of the award will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 12th October 2011. We wish the Cardiff WwTW digesters the best of luck!