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Green educational centre shows the Wise way to build the future; BUILDING AT CENTRE FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY INCLUDES A RAMMED EARTH THEATRE.

WITH a lecture theatre made of "rammed earth" and hemp and study bedrooms fitted with energy monitors, a new pounds 5.2m centre in the wilds of Wales can today lay claim to be one of the world's greenest educational institutes. The Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (Wise), which opens today at the Centre for Alternative Technology, near Machynlleth, is the biggest environmental facility of its kind in the UK.

As well as the innovative 200-seat lecture theatre, it will boast zero-energy toilets and organic gardens.

Paul Allen, director of CAT, said the centre will be pivotal in the transition to a zero carbon Britain, which will mean thousands of new green jobs in Wales and the UK.

"As demand for retraining in the environmental sector increases, the opening of Wise could not come at a better time," he said.

"I can think of no better organisation to take on the business of training up the thousands of engineers and skilled practitioners who will be needed to deliver a genuinely sustainable built environment."

Jonathan Porritt, former chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, said: "Right across the board we've got to educate people.

"CAT, through its Wise project, is really setting an example and demonstrating what can be done."

Kim Bryan for CAT said: "The launch of this landmark building represents so much for us and our supporters.

"The triumph of renewable energy and sustainable building technologies, the welcome shift in public perception of the need for green, clean energy sources and the major sea-change in local, national and global policies, particularly in terms of climate change recognition."

She said Wise has been described as being as significant to Wales in terms of innovation as the Eden Project was to England.

Focusing on the application of sustainable technologies in the built environment and set to host hundreds of students on several postgraduate courses, she said Wise was nine years in the making.

Project manager Phil Horton said: "The upper floors are complete for accommodation, offices and seminar rooms and our 200-seat lecture theatre is looking spectacular, with its rammed earth walls.

"Its construction features lime, which uses less energy than cement, hemp, which is renewable, and timber which is Forestry Stewardship Council certified.

"Our MSc courses in architecture and renewable energy are expecting more than 450 students during 2010 and demand is increasing for distance learning."

The project has been completed despite an earlier setback when the centre became involved in a legal dispute with the project's main contractor over the work, leaving CAT with a financial shortfall of pounds 530,000.

On the eve of its opening, Jane Davidson, Assembly Environment Minister, hailed Wise's future.

She said: "Education and training is at the heart of our efforts to build a more sustainable future for Wales, which is why the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education's role in delivering high-quality training and education is so important."

Wise will provide thousands of people with an opportunity to learn about environmental topics from organic gardening, renewable energy to green architecture in an inspiring eco environment.

CAT's Graduate School of the Environment offers a range of post-graduate programmes.

The centre also runs accredited courses for installers and specifiers aimed at trade professionals and educators on a wide variety of topics, from photovoltaic systems, biomass, solar water heating through to sustainable water management.

Additionally, CAT runs more than 70 short courses a year on renewable energy, environmentally-friendly building techniques, water and sanitation solutions, ecology, woodland management, organic gardening and wilderness skills.

WISE'S INNOVATIVE FEATURES A circular 200-seat rammed earth lecture theatre; 24 en-suite study bedrooms fitted with energy monitoring equipment; New toilet facilities with natural zero energy treatment of grey water and sewage; Plant and server rooms for monitoring of energy and water usage in the building; Seminar rooms, workshops and a research laboratory; common rooms and reception areas; Restaurant and bar - promoting the importance of sustainable land use, food miles and a healthy diet; Organic gardens.


The new building at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth can lay claim to be one of the greenest educational institutes
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 10, 2010
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