Running on Solar at Howbery Park

Howbery Business Park has installed electric vehicle charging points which use the Polar network of over 6,500 charge points nationwide.

Written by: Susan Bouffler. Photography by: Craig Herron and Imageworks

The new charge points, which are designed for use by the park’s businesses and employees, use on-site electricity, of which around 25% per year is generated by the adjacent solar farm. Howbery Park was the UK’s first solar business park, with 3,000 ground-mounted solar panels connected to the National Grid.

In May, almost 42% of the park’s electricity was generated by the solar farm. In fact, for several days in May, the park was running completely on solar-generated electricity.

Donna Bowles, Estates Manager for Howbery Business Park, said: “We are always really thrilled when the park is grid-free, and it’s good for users of our electric vehicle charge points to know that on some sunny days during the summer, for example, their charge could be 100% solar-powered!”

Howbery Park has put sustainability at the heart of its development plans. It already boasts two flagship buildings, Kestrel House and Red Kite House, which are both BREEAM excellent rated, and have environmentally-friendly features, such as the use of bore hole water to provide natural air conditioning.

Donna added: “Thinking about the environment is central to everything we do at Howbery Park. We’ve achieved zero waste to landfill, recycle 100% of our wood waste and last summer, as part of our ongoing carbon saving and plant replacement programme, we introduced more efficient localised boilers which reduced our CO2 emissions by 50%, as well as reducing the park’s operating and maintenance costs.

Set in 70 acres, close to Wallingford in South Oxfordshire, Howbery Park, which won Business Park of the Year in the Thames Valley Property Awards in 2017, is currently home to over 50 different companies and organisations. The park also provides meeting rooms in its historic Manor House, as well as in a separate contemporary conference centre.

The park has planning consent to develop a further 74,000 sq ft (6,875 sq m), and site owner, HR Wallingford, is keen to attract businesses and organisations, both commercial and academic, who have a focus on resilience, including water, infrastructure, cyber-security, or environmental hazards.

“We’re committed to developing the park in a way that creates surroundings that are unique to office space in Oxfordshire and that our tenants enjoy working in, while preserving the park’s unique landscape . Everything we build has to be sustainable for tomorrow.”

Howbery has invested in its green spaces, making the most of its mature parkland and riverside setting. In recent years, the park has developed diverse habitats in its grounds, established two new bee colonies, and has created award-winning allotments for use by the park community.

Donna continued: “While we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved so far, we are always looking at additional ways to conserve and enhance the park and its wildlife. We have recently started work with our grounds maintenance company, Nurture Landscapes, on a new Biodiversity Action Plan to help guide our next steps.”

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