Ruthin-based civil engineering firm Jones Bros has completed work on a new £1 million education centre that will help young people learn about energy and the environment.
Carwyn Jones, First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government, officially opened ACE2 (Aberthaw Centre for Energy and Environment) at Aberthaw Power Station near Barry in south Wales.
The groundbreaking centre will provide an important new resource for schools and community groups delivering educational programmes linked to the National Curriculum.
The building, a stunning structure made of steel, timber and glass with a striking central fin, is a departure from Jones Bros’ usual line of business.
With its 270-strong workforce, the family-run firm is currently working on around 20 projects across the UK, specialising in highways and infrastructure; construction and improvements; energy projects including renewables; construction of waste management facilities and waste remediation projects; and flood and coastal protection projects.
These include the £6.8m coastal defence scheme at Tywyn in Gwynedd and the construction of the £35m Porthmadog bypass in a 50:50 joint venture partnership with Balfour Beatty.
Huw Jones, managing director of Jones Bros, said: “We are very proud to have played such a central role in the construction of ACE2, particularly as it is very different to the type of work we generally do.
“I’m sure that it will help to enrich the studies of many young people who visit the centre to learn more about energy and its impact on the environment.”
Funded by RWE npower, which owns Aberthaw Power Station, the centre features a 15 metre high fin that is central to the design concept, symbolising the links between the building and its setting where energy and environment are inextricably bound, forming connections between nature and technology.
It was designed by architects Loyn & Co and is an eco centre with rainwater from the roof being harvested, stored in tanks and used to flush toilets.
Solar collectors on the fin provide electricity for the centre and the building has under-floor heating via air source heat pumps. The building will be cooled by natural circulation using roof-mounted wind catchers, while ash from the power station has been used in the construction process to ensure that a bi-product was recycled.
A viewing area allows visitors to enjoy the panoramic sea views, while they can learn about energy production and sustainability as they walk around the centre, part of RWE npower’s ‘Brighter Futures’ education commitment.
School and college groups using the building will learn about energy efficiency and sustainability by studying the building itself. The fin structure houses an observation deck so that visitors to the centre can see the power station, which produces enough electricity for 1.5 million homes.