HS2’s Interchange Station is the First Station in the World to Get Top Award for Environmentally-Friendly Design

Aerial view of Interchange Station

The UK’s new High Speed 2 (HS2) station, to be built in Solihull and near the National Exhibition Centre in the West Midlands, has become the first railway station globally to achieve the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification – a measure of sustainability for new and refurbished buildings – putting it in the top 1 per cent of buildings in the UK for eco-friendly credentials.

This landmark award recognises the station’s eco-friendly features, including maximising natural daylight and ventilation, a station roof design which can capture and reuse rainwater, and features to enable net zero carbon emissions from day-to-day energy consumption.

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method.  It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe the sustainability performance of buildings.  The Interim Certificate, awarded at the design stage to Interchange Station confirms an ‘Outstanding’ rating, putting it in the top 1 per cent of buildings in the UK and the first for any railway station in the world.

The station’s design includes minimising demand for carbon through the use of natural ventilation and daylighting.  Energy efficient technology will be incorporated, such as air source heat pumps and LED lighting.  In addition, the station and Automated People Mover maintenance facility have over 2,000 square-metres of solar panels generating zero carbon electricity.

Photo Credit: HS2 Ltd

Directing rainwater from the main station building via a network of underground pipes into a rainwater harvesting tank will assist in providing part of the building’s water requirements.  The estimated volume of the rainwater harvesting tank is 150 cubic-metres which will reduce the mains water demand for the station.  The landscaping features sustainable drainage systems to reduce the burden on surface water drainage whilst naturally irrigating planted areas, and there will be new natural habitats created around the station, leaving a legacy of biodiversity and an enhancement of native species.  

There will be 222 electric vehicle charging points in the car parking, and cycle storage for 176 bicycles with further room for expansion as demand dictates.  There will also be dedicated pedestrian access into the station from the east of the railway, along with cycle access to the new station from the north, west and south-east through a mixture of dedicated routes.

 “Our aim is to design, construct and operate HS2 to reduce carbon and to minimise the effect of the project on the environment,” said HS2’s Environment and Town Planning Director, Peter Miller.  “Our stations will be amongst the most environmentally friendly stations in the world, so this certification is fantastic news for Interchange station.  In building the station, we are also committed to sourcing and making efficient use of sustainable materials, reducing waste and maximising the proportion of material diverted from landfill.

“All leading environmental organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK.  By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s drive to net zero carbon emissions.”

Reducing carbon

As part of the commitment to managing its carbon footprint, HS2 has also set ambitious targets for our supply chain to minimise the whole life carbon emissions of our assets including buildings.  For stations this includes achieving net zero carbon in operation for regulated emissions and achieving a 50 per cent reduction in whole life carbon emissions against a baseline for a typical station.  The HS2 and Arup teams working on the Interchange Station have developed design solutions which achieve this ambition through the use of renewable technologies and lean design as well as achieving a holistic sustainable design in the wider landscaping and urban realm.

The station design scored highly on a broad range of criteria including Health and Wellbeing, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Waste, Land Use and Ecology, and Pollution.  In addition a further seven exemplar credits were achieved at design stage, including one for committing to undertaking a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of the building to monitor its energy and water usage against the design predictions, three credits for generating a material efficiency metric and analysis into the embodied carbon of specified building materials, one for a commitment to manage construction traffic and the installation of electric vehicle charging points, and for achieving a higher standard of resilience to climate change.

About HS2

Great Britain’s new high-speed railway HS2 is now being built.  When complete, it will form the new spine of the UK’s rail system, with 25 stops from Scotland to the South East, connecting 30 million people and eight of its largest cities.  When completed, 345 miles of brand new high speed track will run between Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London. HS2 trains will also run on the existing network serving towns and cities in England’s North West and North East and Scotland. HS2 is designed to address three key problems facing the UK.

HS2: Upgrading Britain’s railways

  • Capacity – HS2 will add vital capacity to the existing rail network by taking long distance trains off it, creating thousands of extra seats and space for more local, commuter and freight services.
  • Connectivity – HS2 is the most important economic regeneration project in decades.  It will act as a catalyst for growth and help level-up the country, boosting growth in the Midlands and North of England and open up new employment and leisure opportunity for millions of people.
  • Carbon – HS2 will be the low carbon alternative for long distance travel, reducing the need for car and plane journeys, and play a vital role in delivering the Government’s ambitious goal of Britain becoming net zero carbon by 2050.

High Speed 1, the UK’s first section of high-seed rail, links London with the Channel Tunnel and opened in 2007.