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Building the Living Planet Centre

The Living Planet Centre from the outside

Building sustainability

From the underground heat pumps to the solar panels on the roof, we’ve created the greenest building we possibly could.

The Living Planet Centre is at the forefront of sustainable design and construction. Designed by Hopkins Architects and constructed by Willmott Dixon, the building itself is an inspirational educational resource.

From the start of the project we aspired to create a building that would qualify for the award of BREEAM "Outstanding", and on 28 May 2014 we achieved this goal.  BREEAM is the world's foremost environmental assesssment method and rating system for buildings.

The Living Planet Centre overlooking the canal

We wanted to show that, through the smart use of design, materials and technology, it’s possible to create a state-of-the-art building with minimal environmental impact.

We invited policy-makers, industry representatives, designers, architects, students and the public to visit the building and discover how we could make this happen.

We wanted our presence to have a positive effect on the local environment. Avoiding unnecessary damage to undeveloped land or natural systems, we chose a ‘brownfield’ site – a car park owned and run by Woking Borough Council – that was already covered in tarmac and was earmarked for further development. The car park is still operating as normal beneath us. Apart from four disabled bays we’ve not reserved any spaces for our employees – we want staff and visitors to make use of the excellent local public transport links instead.

We planted native species to encourage wildlife around the site – which backs onto ancient protected heathland and is bordered to the south by the Basingstoke Canal, a nationally important habitat for many freshwater species. By creating a harmonious link between urban and rural environments, the Living Planet Centre embodies our mission to create a future where people and nature thrive.

Find out more about our journey to the Living Planet Centre or book a behind-the-scenes tour.

Our new home

Remain hidden on an industrial estate or build a cost-effective, green option a quick hop from Waterloo? Many factors convinced us the Living Planet Centre was the right move.

Since 1987, we’d been based at Panda House, in Godalming. Back then, computers were a rare species and telephones were immobile. If we wanted to contact WWF colleagues overseas, we sent letters or faxes or endured expensive, crackly phone calls. Climate change was hardly mentioned. Earth’s human population had just reached five billion – two billion fewer than today.

The world has changed hugely, and so has the nature of our work. Our headquarters was no longer fit for purpose. 

When the lease on our premises was set to expire, we considered our options. Attempt to bring the existing building up to standard? Rent a different, greener office? Or create our own dream building – a modern HQ where we could work more effectively and spread our message? 

A pioneering example of sustainable architecture in action!

With the extremely generous offer of a £5 million donation from our long-standing supporter – the Rufford Foundation – for the sole purpose of developing a new space for us, we soon realised there could be only one decision. Building our own premises was the best and most cost-effective option and offered us so many other opportunities to engage with people more widely.

We launched a capital appeal and reached £11.5 million from a number of donors. Thanks to their vision and generosity, we didn't have to divert money away from our conservation projects around the world – and we’ll soon be saving money in running costs.

So here we are at our brilliantly located site in Woking, a quick hop along the line from Waterloo. Beneath us, a municipal car park; behind us, ancient heathland and a waterway buzzing with dragonflies.

In one of the greenest buildings in the UK, we’ll be showing how it’s possible for people to live in harmony with nature. And we can’t wait to welcome you. 

Sir David Attenborough planting a tree and officially opening the Living Planet Centre which is the inspirational new home of WWF-UK. The Living Planet Centre allows WWF-UK to welcome visitors of all ages into the eco building to witness the WWF experience and gain an insight into the work of WWF in the natural world. © Stonehouse Photographic / WWF-UK

Opened by Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough planted a tree to officially open the Living Planet Centre our inspirational new home. 

With thanks to our Donors

We are settling into our new home nicely but without the support of our generous donors this would not have been possible.

The Rufford Foundation The Johansson Family The Ingram Trust The Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust Kinnarps Sir Adrian and Lady Holman Cisco Interface Garfield Weston Foundation Dimension Data The Shears Foundation Stelios Philanthropic Foundation Ed Smith Valentin von Massow The Martin Laing Foundation The Kirby Laing Foundation Carol Kemm Roger Hooper Michiel Bakker


Working together to showcase sustainable IT Solutions

A staff member at her desk at the Living Planet Centre on the phone

Cisco, together with global ICT solutions and implementation partner Dimension Data, provided much of the IT infrastructure for WWF’s Living Planet Centre as a gift in kind.

We were delighted to be the beneficiary of state-of-the-art IT systems, which facilitate our sustainable working practices and aid in further reducing our carbon footprint. Using refurbished technology from the 2012 Olympics, the technology systems have been specifically designed to meet our business and sustainability requirements. Through the partnership, WWF will continue to lead by example by further reducing domestic and international travel, connecting with colleagues and partners via high quality video conferencing.

Working together with Cisco and other technology partners, we’ve ensured that the IT systems within the Living Planet Centre are managed in a sustainable manner – including cooling the data centre via ground source cooling. This is a unique feature and helps in further reducing Co2.

We also benefit from advice on sustainable technology both in the UK and across the network and a WWF sustainability advisor works with Cisco with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of the IT sector.

Cisco aims to reduce energy use and GHG emissions throughout their operations and has received top rankings for its environmental sustainability efforts: Carbon Disclosure Project Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) for six consecutive years (2008-2013).

Dimension Data

Jabber phone headset with volume adjustment, placed on a laptop

As a global leader in the provision and management of specialist IT infrastructure solutions and services, Dimension Data provided a generous gift in kind of their IT consultancy services for the Living Planet Centre.

They used their expertise, knowledge and services to implement the Living Planet Centre’s IT infrastructure, and continue to work with us to shape the IT strategy, define the architecture, and deliver the technology roadmap under the key principle of sustainable IT solutions.


Biosfera: sustainable flooring for the LPC

Several staff members around a table outside the auditorium at the Living Planet Centre

Pioneering sustainable flooring manufacturer, Interface, provided the flooring for the Living Planet Centre.

The carpet tiles in our Living Planet Centre are from Interface’s Biosfera collection, made from 100% recycled yarn. They were installed using a glue-less installation system, ‘Tac Tiles’, and can be recycled at the end of their product life-cycle. The glue-less installation reduces the environmental impact drastically and virtually eliminates volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The partnership between WWF and Interface is one based on common values. The yarn used in Biosfera is made from industrial waste sources such as used fishing nets and fluff from used carpets – helping to turn waste from the flooring and other industries into valuable raw materials. The collection has also been manufactured to include less yarn than ever before, significantly reducing its environmental footprint without compromising performance.

Top 10 sustainability features

1. Air ducts and heat pumps allow us to tap into the constant temperatures beneath the ground to heat or cool the building.

2. The curved timber ‘diagrid’ roof and the glass on it optimise natural light throughout the building. This reduces lighting demands.

3. We generate our own electricity from the sun with carefully positioned solar panels on the roof. 

4. The appliances we use are among the most energy efficient around. We monitor the building’s energy use carefully and display this data within the building.

5. We’ve used recycled materials where we can and all wood comes from responsibly-managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

6. We’ve planted shrubs, trees and flowers and put up boxes to attract birds and bats. By encouraging biodiversity we want to bring the natural world onto the site.

7. We collect rainwater and reuse ‘grey water’ from showers and hand basins to flush toilets and water our plants. 

8. In the construction of the building, we made sure as little waste as possible was sent to landfill. We continue to recycle and compost to minimise the amount of waste we send to landfill.

9. Our improved video conferencing facilities really help reduce the amount of travel we do.

10. We are easily reached by public transport and have plenty of sedum-covered bike racks (and showers!) to encourage staff to cycle to work.

Take a tour of the Living Planet Centre

Come along to a behind-the-scenes tour to see first hand how this beautiful building supports the work of WWF-UK.

Case Study: BREEAM - design aspects that reduce the Living Planet Centre's environmental impact

BREEAM Case Study PDF (241kb)

Living Planet Centre - facts and figures (PDF)

Living Planet Centre - facts and figures PDF