Ben Ainslie Racing builds a solar-powered HQ for a wind-powered sport

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The new HQ for Ben Ainslie Racing is expected to meet 90 percent of its projected electricity needs by way of photovoltaic panels, rising to 100 percent after energy monitoring is implemented

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As a sailor, Ben Ainslie has a vested interest in the climate. Now, he is doing his part to combat climate change by moving his team into a new sustainable facility. Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) HQ will generate its own power and be a showcase for clean energy.

The new building, designed by HGP Architects and currently under construction on the Camber in Portsmouth, UK, will be home to BAR during its preparation for the 35th America's Cup in 2017. The project is being developed on a tight schedule. It was conceptualized in December 2013 and planning drawings were submitted in May last year. Planning consent was received the following month, with site clearance and construction starting soon after.

According to BAR, the new HQ will be awarded BREEAM Excellent status once completed, a mark of strong sustainable performance in terms of design, construction and operation. To achieve this the company is working in partnership with renewables investment firm Low Carbon.

BAR tells Gizmag that, with Low Carbon's help, it expects to meet 90 percent of the building's projected 640 MWh per annum electricity needs by way of photovoltaic panels, and expects that figure to rise to 100 percent once energy monitoring has been implemented.

The building has been designed with a variety of factors in mind aimed at reducing its energy usage. To minimize the amount of energy required for lighting, the design seeks to make use of natural light to as great an extent as possible. Highly efficient luminaries and automatic lighting controls will be used, while all emergency lighting and external lighting will use LED technology.

Elsewhere, the building will rely largely on natural ventilation and will reportedly use an efficient heating and cooling system, although further details about the system itself are not yet available. Glazing will employ a mixture of coatings and double glazing, with brize soleil shading installed where appropriate.

BAR explains to Gizmag that the installation of a building management system to monitor energy usage will be critical to reducing the building's energy usage over the course of its lifetime. It will provide insight into how the heating and cooling system might be modified in future (which will be possible) and where other energy savings might be made. A rainwater harvesting system will be used, among other things, for washing boats.

In addition to the building's solar array and energy saving features, consideration has been given to ensuring that the impact of construction process is kept to a minimum. Much of the demolished material from the site is being reused, such as for leveling and for building up flood protection, and recycled materials and sustainably-sourced wood have been sourced. To minimize travel, the labor force has been kept local where possible.

Around 90 people are expected to work at the BAR HQ and it will also house a visitor center for the public. The building is expected to be completed midway through 2015.

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