When we embarked upon our journey to develop a sustainable venue in the middle of rural Devon we were faced with a wide range of choices. In pure terms, Devon Business & Education Centre is a compromise based on good intentions, a fixed budget, but also a need to satisfy the varied needs of all our visitors.
The trade-offs are easily illustrated by our adoption of the highly efficient Passivhaus standard but not deploying the full monty of “off grid” existence. In every sustainable build there are choices to make but very few go the full distance along the zero-carbon pathway.
At the outset, we aimed to develop a welcoming space that could be used by the main audiences: our business and educational visitors. On one hand, business co-workers wanted confidential, inspiring and quiet spaces, equipped with fast internet and great coffee. On the other hand, parents and young people sought a rural idyll with empathetic tutors where they felt safe and as far away from school as you could imagine.
But taking it one step further, with the help of our builders and architect, we wanted a space that felt in keeping with the rural landscape and that allowed all comers to feel detached from the everyday and free to explore their thoughts and feelings.
For us, what has resulted was defined by what we would like to do within the frame of what we were able to do. Nevertheless, by building a passivhaus venue with a rather lovely sedum roof and engaging outdoor and indoor learning spaces, we have created an opportunity for all visitors, young and old, to consider what they can do to limit their carbon footprints.
We believe that passivhaus buildings, to whatever extent they progress along the sustainable pathway, make people feel calmer, healthier and, even, happier. Large south facing windows bring in light, views and a link to the outside world. The absence of a traditional heating system and the high levels of insulation ensure that all the rooms are quiet and constant in temperature.
The location of Devon Business & Education Centre forces visitors to detach from their usual reference points of being with other people and doing other things – here they can just be. The sound of birdsong, the seasonal colours and the passing clouds are not incidental, they are part of the location – we challenge you to be stressed after a day here!
At venues like ours, you can detune from the day to day, make better decisions, develop more critical insights, and engage with others. In short, you can become more at one with your one business.