Wakefield Westgate station in the UK has been recognized as Europe’s greenest railway station with a host of innovative environmental technologies incorporated into the design.

Part of an area-wide regeneration scheme, it was the first newly constructed station building on the region’s main railway line in decades and is an impressive new transport gateway to this rejuvenated city. The £8.8 million project has been awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating – an internationally recognised level of performance when it comes to the sustainable design of new buildings.

The Central Building Management System (BMS) controls the majority of ‘energy hungry’ items and ensures cold winter draughts or summer heat waves do not adversely affect the ambient temperature.

“It’s fairly unusual for a building of this small size to have such a device, but it’s a simple way for us to ensure that equipment is switched off when it needs to be,” said James Harbidge, environment manager for operator East Coast. “The BMS also tells us when equipment breaks down. We want to know for instance if the devices which control the flow of cool air to our offices are broken – as they’ll not be keeping the temperature within the tight ‘set’ boundaries we’ve agreed.”

The railway station’s south east orientation allows optimization of natural day lighting and passive heating.

Through a combination of automated low and high level openings, the concourse area also takes advantage of the sometimes breezy conditions and provides good levels of natural ventilation to compensate for heat gains.

Glazing to key elevations further maximises daylight penetration to the concourse areas at ground and first floors and minimises the use of artificial lighting.

Curved glazed frontage

Curved glazed frontage

At night time, the high-efficiency LEDs and other ‘non incandescent’ lights provide a safe aspect through the station for customers.

These are powered by high efficiency photo voltaic solar panels on the southern roof of the building which soak-up the sun light during the daytime and this energy is fed through an inerter for direct use within the station and is also used to power everything from lifts to latte machines or transferred to the national grid.

One of the main components of the sustainable design blueprint is steel. The main station building – which houses a large open foyer, retail outlets, coffee shop and a first class lounge – a pedestrian footbridge and associated lift shaft and staircases have all been built using structural steelwork. Prefabrication significantly helped the project programme.

“The long spans required for the retail areas and the foyer, as well as the speed of construction meant the project was ideal for steel,” said CJCT project architect Anthony Hall.

Almost all of the waste generated at the station is recycled including the composting of leftover food. The heavy rainfall the area gets is also put to use. All the rainwater that falls on the roof is collected, filtered and used for both staff and public toilets.

“As well as reducing our carbon footprint because we are not relying on pumped water from the local mains, we’re also taking some of the sting out of the tail of really heavy rainfall events that contribute to flooding of local streams and rivers. As rainfall intensity increases this is an important part of the station’s contribution to local sustainability.  It’s also an innovated use of rainwater and puts it to good use,” said Harbridge.

This approach and the incorporation of the various environmental initiatives have enabled the new station building to be 71 per cent more energy efficient.

The striking building references both the mining heritage of the area, with a glazed black brick frontage, and the importance of the local Hepworth Gallery, through the use of curves and abstract shapes.

The railway station includes a new and improved travel centre featuring ergonomic counters; the installation of ticket gates to improve passenger safety and combat fare evasion; and improved accessibility around the station via lifts and a new ‘golden’ footbridge.