Unigro builds world leading plant

quarantine house at Kew Gardens.

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Quarantine Glasshouses built by Unigro at Kew Gardens

A state-of-the-art plant quarantine glasshouses facility has been formally opened at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (14 September 2011), designed and built by Unigro, a leading provider of controlled environments to universities and other research institutes. 

The new Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit will replace Kew Gardens’ existing facility, built in 1979. This new facility means that Kew can keep its precious collection of rare and interesting plants safe from pests and diseases and work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to protect the UK natural environment.  

The design has been developed with containment as the top priority, with sustainability in mind. It has employed the following containment features:  

Double glazing to provide full containment security

Individual, isolated bays with precise controllable climates for temperature, relative humidity, day length and light levels

HEPA filtered air change to maintain negative air pressure (pre-set to CO₂ levels)

Facilities to permit fumigation to counteract pest or disease outbreaks

Contained drainage to ensure waste water is sterilised

Secondary containment bunding system throughout

The facility also contains the following energy saving features:

Efficient double glazing and external shade blinds system to minimise heat loss/gain

Efficient ventilation to -recover heat from the extracted air

High efficiency internal and external lighting

Energy management system

Heat and coolth sink tanks to store surplus heat from the cooling system and provide heat for the building on demand. The tanks ensure continued operation of the glasshouse in the event of mechanical failure and enable a reduced chiller capacity utilising off-peak and CHP electricity.

Keith Hamp, Commercial Director at Unigro, said: “The Unigro team is very proud to be part of this project, which has provided Kew Gardens with state-of-the-art technology, making this facility unique not just across the UK, but the whole of Europe.  The new Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit provides highly contained facilities that function in a sustainable way, designed to protect the environment within and without. We are delighted to be associated with the security of our planet’s biodiversity, and look forward to continuing to work with the team at Kew as it begins to utilise the new facility.”

Dr Tim Entwisle, Director of Conservation, Living Collections and Estates, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said: “We are delighted to have worked with Unigro on this project. The company has experience of designing and building plant quarantine facilities, showed they had the best understanding of our needs and offered the best design and build package at a competitive price”.

Initially the Plant Reception and Quarantine glasshouse Unit will be used for plants entering and leaving Kew Gardens but in time a quarantine service will be provided to a wide range of organisations.