EPIC is arguably one of the largest earth sheltered buildings in Europe. The whole of the ground floor north elevation is buried under an earth bank. This provides a key method of reducing the energy consumption of the building by using the earth as extra insulation that keeps the building cool in the summer but helps to retain internal heat in the winter. In addition there is a buried pipe work system within the bank that can allow additional heat to be dumped from the building in the hottest weather.
The bank is over 110m long, nearly 4m high and up to 10 m wide. It consumed most of the spoil that was scraped from the site (Thus avoiding sending any to landfill) as well as some additional bought in limestone.
The picture shows the build up of the embankment. This is a geo-stabilised bank that gave EPIC an additional bonus. There is a gap between the bank and the building held in place by a grid of steel and plastic mesh. Because the bank doe not touch the building the building’s design does not require a massive concrete retaining wall.
The strong plastic mesh between each 50 cm thick layer of limestone is connected to the vertical steel mesh retaining wall with a system of steel grappling hooks. As the weight of the bank increases with each layer that is laid down the plastic mesh flexes and the grapples ensure that the steel mesh is pulled away from the north wall of the EPIC Centre.
By adopting this design solution for the bank EPIC was able to reduce the structure of the north wall and thus eliminate a specific amount of cement construction and therefore making a further contribution to reducing the overall carbon footprint of the building.
For more information on how this geotensile earth bank was formed visit www.tensar.co.uk