<? the_title(); ?>

A highly sustainable, low carbon building incorporating renewable energy.


Butser Ancient Farm is an internationally recognised archaeological site and “living farm” nestled in the South Downs, near Chalton in East Hampshire. The site comprises replica Iron Age roundhouses, a simple Roman Villa and a farm raising ancient crop varieties and rare breed animals. Visitors from around the world are able to compare today’s living with what it was like in Britain during the Iron Age and Roman periods.

Butser Ancient Farm recognised the need for a modern visitor centre, vital for today’s expectations of a ‘comfortable’ experience, and the need to offer better learning facilities and to house the well stocked gift shop.

Having been successful with their fund raising for the new Centre, the Directors set about obtaining a design for a highly sustainable building with low running costs and a small carbon footprint.

A simple, rectangular wooden building was erected, sitting on oak piles, set into the good load-bearing solid chalk bedrock. The ground floor, roof and all walls have been insulated with sheep’s wool and the roof is clad in cedar shingles.


In order to keep operating costs as low as possible a number of small scale renewable technologies were proposed.  These included a rain water harvesting system, a 2 kWp solar PV array for electrical power, daylight and ventilation tubes for fresh air and light without power consumption.

The renewable heating solution: 

Forest Heat Energy Ltd was approached by the designer of the building to provide a value-for-money, renewable heating package for the centre’s space heating and hot water needs.

The Forest Heat Energy team installed a 17 kW Centrometal Bio Solid log  boiler
to use locally sourced hardwood logs for winter heating and hot water supply.


Despite the high efficiency rating of the 2 – storey 144m2 building, the large main hall has frequently opening glass doors, so compact overhead unit heaters were also installed to ensure a quick recovery to acceptable temperature levels.

Forest Heat Energy also installed a Solaris four flat panel East – West array, solar thermal system to supply hot water during the summer.

Comments from Richard Weavis FBEng, the Designer and Project Manager of the new visitor centre:
“The combined solar panel and biomass boiler system linked through a 1000 litre accumulator tank are certainly integral to the design and use of the building and the nature of the site. The system was professionally installed by Forest Heat Energy and their associates and after the usual ‘tweaking’ is running well. The use of locally sourced logs helps maintain a low space heating cost during the winter and the solar panels provide virtually cost free hot water during the summer.”

Comments from Simon at Butser Ancient Farm:

“We are really pleased with the installation by Forest Heat Energy.  The system is easy to use and we are very happy with the heat results.”