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New low energy headquarters delivers biodiversity for Cabi

The headquarters for the international not-for-profit organisation, CABI, has been successfully completed. CABI apply scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. Ridge and Partners LLP (Ridge) provided project management and lead consultant services, including quantity surveying, quality monitoring and planning consultancy for the project, which has taken over 10 years to complete. International architects, Scott Brownrigg created a low energy design that offers two-storey office space integrating an experimental bio-diverse landscape with a new collaborative flexible working environment.

This is the highly anticipated new home for CABI, who, for the past 33 years, have been located in what was Carmel College, a school built in the 1960s, in Oxfordshire. The old building required a high level of maintenance, in comparison to CABI’s new, energy-efficient, purpose-built HQ in Wallingford.

Jolyon Price, Equity Partner at Ridge said “CABI, together with the Ridge team, has navigated this important project through many challenges and achievements over the past ten years. We have overcome planning hurdles, been responsible for the appointment of the full consultant team and, most recently, we have managed successful completion of the build through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ridge team, with Scott Brownrigg, have remained completely dedicated to supporting CABI all the way through the life cycle of the project, from concept to completion, and we are all very proud of the end result.”

Former CABI CEO Dr Trevor Nicholls, who was instrumental in bringing the new CABI headquarters to fruition before retiring, said, “On behalf of my EMT colleagues and all CABI staff worldwide let me thank all of our professional advisers, partners and suppliers for their work in helping us achieve this exciting milestone in CABI’s history.

“We now have an office that we can truly be proud of which is fitting for an international organisation, visited by guests and staff from around the world. It is truly in keeping with our mission and values to protect the environment and biodiversity whilst also being an impressive local landmark that will put us on the map more visibly in the community.”

At the heart of this project is CABI’s commitment to encouraging biodiversity and protecting the environment. The design is highly energy efficient with detailed strategies for materials, orientation and structures. A passive ventilation system has been devised and the design includes a careful selection of materials for the building fabric, which will reduce energy consumption, to embrace the aim of low carbon use in operation.

Scott Brownrigg Director Ed Hayden said: “A traffic light system alerts users when the building gets too hot or doesn’t have enough fresh air. Turning from amber to red prompts the occupants to open their windows and increase the levels of fresh air in the building. It is designed to rely on communication and cooperation between the building and its users, rather than being heavily M&E driven”.

Situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the building responds to its surroundings with a wild flower meadow roof, which will attract insects and birds and enhance biodiversity. Inside it hosts up to 180 members of staff – a long way from CABI’s origins as a small research committee established in 1910. Staff and visitors are provided with a range of amenities including a café restaurant, meeting rooms and conference room with auditorium.

With the building now complete, CABI will begin moving into their eco-friendly new home whilst following UK Covid-19 guidelines.

Recently appointed CEO at CABI Dr Daniel Elger is among the first members of staff to move into the new headquarters. He said: “I am delighted to be leading a team of professionals – including our publishing, digital data and other elements of our knowledge business support – based at our UK headquarters in Wallingford. They are working with colleagues in our global network of centres to help millions of smallholder farmers around the world grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases.”