Hethel Engineering Centre Revitalised by Solar Energy

Hethel Engineering Centre (HEC) supports high performance engineering companies located throughout Norfolk. The site is owned by Norfolk County Council but is self-funded through its workshops and conference facilities.


The original building at the centre had been operating at maximum capacity and they urgently required a new building to satisfy increasing levels of demand. The client wanted the new facility to meet an extremely high level of sustainability, achieving a BREEAM excellent rating and using key renewable technologies, such as photovoltaics (PV), to minimise its environmental impact.

Due to the building’s exposed location, robust wind uplift calculations were performed prior to work commencing, ensuring that the new roof could resist the weather conditions it is likely to experience in its lifetime. Bauder’s Thermoplan single ply membrane was specified for the 2,500m² roof, as it is not only long lasting but also environmentally friendly, representing a major advancement in synthetic waterproofing technology.

Roof areas totalling 500m² were fitted with 160 PV Modules, enabling the centre to generate at least 44.23 Megawatt Hours of solar power each year, with a kilowatt peak of 47.2 and annual CO2 savings of 23.40 tonnes. The PV system was installed without any penetration of the waterproofing or roof deck, ensuring that the integrity of the roof is completely upheld. The remarkable simplicity of the installation also meant that roofing contractor, Voland Asphalte, could install the entire PV array in just one day to the exact specifications given by the client.

Incorporating such a large number of PV modules onto the roof did bring some spatial challenges for the specifier, NPS Group, as the panels had to be visually unobtrusive in order to comply with planning requirements. However, the low profile of the SOLfixx modules, which are set at a 10° angle, made sure this was not an issue.

The centre remained operational throughout the works, which did cause a logistical challenge for the Voland team, however all deliveries were timed as not to conflict with vehicles moving in and out of the facility. The work at HEC was completed on time and to budget, providing the client with an innovative roof that boasts extraordinary environmental credentials.

Karl Manning, lead architect for this project from NPS Group, stated his delight with the finished project: “Hethel Engineering Centre is a perfect example of a project where outstanding workmanship and top quality products can harmoniously come together to deliver an exceptional, sustainable roofing solution. The Voland team in collaboration with Bauder provided the absolute highest degree of technical and professional support throughout the project, helping us overcome any issues we encountered promptly and efficiently.”