Completed in 2009, the Herbarium is a high-quality office and research environment associated with the national repository for plant specimens that were until now housed in a Victorian building with very limited environmental control. The £15m Herbarium provides 50 years storage capacity for the main plant collections in a close-controlled environment.
The new building contains sample reception, processing and freeze areas (to remove residual pests) and ten compactor store rooms on three levels to house the collection in high thermal mass close-controlled environments. Heating and cooling to the building is from an open loop ground source heat pump system, dehumidification is achieved by a dry desiccant heat recovery unit.
The building also incorporates highly efficient lighting and automatic controls to ensure that operational costs are minimised. Some 50% of the building is given over to office space which on the uppermost floor includes a high thermal mass roof structure with a central skylight to ensure excellent daylight. This level is away from the plant specimens and is naturally ventilated. Lower floors have close control conditions to facilitate the handling of the rare plant samples that the building is based around.