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Open for buzziness

The old Milton Park offices of education technology provider RM have been turned into a collaborative workspace with sustainability at its core

World Bee Day on Friday, May 20 marked the official opening of the Bee House collaborative workspace on the Milton Park business, science and technology park situated just off the Milton Interchange on the A34 in Oxfordshire.

The product of a £12.4 million refurbishment of an existing building, previously the home of IT firm RM (the second oldest spin-out from Oxford University), the flexible workspace provides a range of flexible office spaces, ranging in size from 9 to 239 square metres; a 145-seat conference facility; the Hive Café; and meeting rooms all named after different varieties of honey. There are also co-working memberships on offer for individuals.

Bee ground_floor

The Bee House has been designed by MEPC with sustainability at its heart, with the intention of gaining BREEAM Excellent status for infrastructure and buildings and a highest possible A-rating Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Its green credentials start with the repurposing of an existing building (the most sustainable of all construction methods, as it saves a high percentage of embodied energy within the fabric of the building, reduces demolition waste, minimises the need for new materials and reduces the level of construction traffic) and extends to the installation of moss walls, use of a green renewable energy tariff for heating/cooling the building and a dedicated Bee House app that allows occupiers to control the temperature in their own environment and turn off lights remotely.

Outside, ASA Landscape Architects have designed a SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) for the site that will attract wildlife and help to prevent flooding. Space previously used for car-parking now accommodates bioretention swales that clean water run-off from areas of paving and half of the building’s roof, while also creating inviting seating areas for occupiers. The use of a gravel mulch will help to reduce the need for weeding and keep moisture within the soil.

Bee House front

A water course previously screened by the parking area has been opened up to create a new wildflower meadow to attract bees and other pollinators. There is also a bespoke bee hotel offering a home for solitary bees and two beehives, with plans to add two more later in the year.

Sustainability will play an important part in the ongoing maintenance of the Bee House as well, for example by producing chemical-free cleaning solutions on-site using dissolvable tablets and transporting them in refillable bottles.

To help occupants make sustainable travel choices, the Bee House offers secure bike parking areas, a cycle hire hub, showers and heated lockers; fast- charging electric vehicle (EV) points will be easily accessible to those who need to plug in; and for just £20 per year, people working at the Bee House can benefit from unlimited bus travel within Didcot Zone 1.

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