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Oxfordshire council office scores 'Excellent'
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Rain water will be collected to flush lavatories at a new environmentally friendly Oxfordshire County Council building in Banbury which will also be home to local bats. Redundant print works and other smaller unused buildings have been transformed into Samuelson House, where council staff who previously worked in different locations will be based under one roof along with colleagues from the NHS and the Primary Care Trust. The building will achieve a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating. Planners gave considerable consideration to regeneration, design, landscaping, energy efficiency, working practices and social inclusion.
Oxfordshire council office scores 'Excellent'

Boxes and a dedicated loft space have been built to cater for the local population of Pipistrelle and Brown Long-Eared bats who take advantage of flight paths and feeding opportunities around the nearby River Cherwell and Oxford Canal.

The building harvests rain water which will be used to flush toilets while natural ventilation will cool rooms and solar panels are employed to help provide hot water. Responsibly-sourced timber has been used during construction and landscaped areas have been created to enhance the habitat for local species of flora and fauna where possible.

Samuelson House also has waterless urinals, zoned lighting and heating which turns itself off when areas are unoccupied, and extensive energy use monitoring is in place.

Significant environmental savings will be made by having around 300 staff working at one hub, particularly in areas such as car journeys and overall energy consumption. This will partly be achieved by its town centre location, providing far better public access for those who need to visit officers. Samuelson House will create a 24.2 per cent improvement in emissions over the Building Regulations Guide line level.

The development is part of the county council's Better Offices Programme - a review of property which aims to deliver a more flexible working environment for staff coupled with an improvement in the delivery of services for clients and visitors. Staff from the council's Children, Young People and Families and Adult Social Care teams will work from Samuelson House.

The cost of the £6m building has been met from funds generated by the sale of old offices where staff are relocating from and from savings on running costs. Staff will move into Samuelson House in February and March.
Environment in mind

Councillor Keith Mitchell, the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: "Samuelson House is a much better location for members of staff to work together under one roof along with colleagues from different organisations. It has many unusual features that are designed with the environment in mind and I would like to congratulate all of those involved in its design and construction for creating such an innovative and interesting building.

"We have made sure that many of the local characteristics which define this area of Oxfordshire, such as the bats and local flora and fauna, have been incorporated into the building's overall look and feel as well as employing modern environmental methods to conserve resources where possible."

The new building is named after Sir Bernhard Samuelson, who was described in an obituary which appeared in the Banbury Guardian of May 11, 1905 as the town's "modern founder…who gave the town its industrial character and modern growth". It went on: "Sir Bernhard may therefore well be styled the founder of Banbury as it exists today, while he was, undoubtedly, for half a century, its presiding genius". During its most successful period, the Brittania Works produced vast quantities of digging and mowing machines, lawnmowers, rollers and reapers, and won prizes for its turnip top cutter and churn. During the first decade of operation the number of people employed there jumped from 27 to nearly 300, peaking at around 500 by Christmas 1870, making it one of Banbury's largest firms.

Samuelson believed strongly in class equality. "I regard the whole of us as fellow workers, and I shall always be glad to do anything to oblige you," he told workers in 1850. The company motto was: "The Brittania Ironworks expects every member to do his duty", and from the beginning, Samuelson encouraged a feeling of unity and loyalty among his workforce.

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