The move from Panda House
Founded in 1961, WWF is the world’s largest independent conservation organisation.
From 1987 WWF-UK was based at Panda House in Godalming, Surrey, however as time passed the building’s technology and sustainability credentials no longer reflected WWF’s philosophies.
A lead donation from the Rufford Foundation for the development of a new space, and capital funds raised, meant that a project to develop an environmentally sustainable building became possible without diverting funds from conservation projects.
Could technological advances form part of this project and help WWF embrace its ideal of living within the constraints of the earth’s natural resources? And, could this technology provide a flexible, sustainable workplace, and allow WWF to be more effective in the field?
The Living Planet Centre is born
The project’s aim was to create a state-of-the-art building with minimal environmental impact, involving the intelligent use of design, materials, and technology. Designed by Hopkins Architects and constructed by Willmott Dixon Construction, the Living Planet Centre was to become the WWF-UK’s new headquarters, and an inspirational location to show policymakers, industry representatives, and the public how we can live in harmony with nature.
A brownfield site, formerly a car park in Woking, was identified as the location for the Centre as it avoided unnecessary damage to undeveloped land. Construction began in 2012 and the centre was officially opened on 1 November 2013 by one of its ambassadors, Sir David Attenborough, before opening to the public in late November.
From inception, the Living Planet Centre wanted to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating, the highest standard for a building’s environmental performance. BREEAM, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.
Using funds wisely
As a charity, WWF must use its funds wisely. Careful costs analysis, the GBP 5 million lead gift from the Rufford Foundation, and a capital appeal meant that building a new headquarters was the best option when the Panda House lease ended.
The Living Planet Centre’s sustainable design will help WWF reduce its carbon emissions and long- term running costs. The enhanced experience provided by the Centre will attract new supporters and therefore increase contributions.
More people, better support
Panda House didn’t project the values and principles of the WWF, which is funded by its supporters. However, the enhanced experience of the Living Planet Centre and its associated technologies will attract more supporters, and enable the charity to publicise high-profile campaigns quickly and effectively.
Education is a key role of the WWF and the interactive Learning Zone will enrich learning for the public, students, officials, and visiting businesses – creating opportunities for additional funding.
WWF’s small IT team needed additional technical skills to design and implement the full solution. The organisation wanted to improve collaboration among employees, and communication with representatives in the field, as well as with policymakers, organisations, and other WWF offices.