Construction materials distributor Wolseley has unveiled its sustainable building center which showcases around 300 green technologies sold by the group.
Wolseley's new building in Leamington Spa cost £3.2m to build and includes self-cleaning windows, roof-top photo-voltaic cells and underground storage for rainwater harvesting.
The building itself features 170 different types of products, all from Wolseley's range.
Wind-towers harness the breeze for natural ventilation and cooling, a biomass boiler that runs on pellets of wood waste and smart plasterboard panels, with a phase-change material have been installed to absorb unwanted heat to help keep buildings cool - without the use of energy.
The natural timber frame building has three different kinds of wall insulation, including Thermofleece which can rapidly absorb and release water vapour to help keep buildings cool in summer and warm in winter.
To aid insulation, there's a sedum roof, a small plant which absorbs 90% of the water that falls on it.
The building has specially-constructed gas-filled triple glazing doors and windows to restrict the flow of heat.
The window panes are coated with nanotechnology, which become clean when rained on.
While some rooms have lino, another floor covering is made of 30% reclaimed glass and another has renewable carpet tiles.
Several different types of solar thermal are used in the building, one of which can be slotted together and effectively used to replace roof tiles.
And in a new twist on wattle and daub, the building has a hemp and lime cement mixture bonded onto interwoven bamboo.
Accepting that for many years to come concrete will be the building material of choice, the building's concrete is pre-fabricated off-site and there is a 40% reduction in the concrete they use because it is mixed with ash from power station waste, without any reduction in stability.
The center shows products in their working environment and gives visitors with data on the benefits of the latest materials and construction methods. For example, renewable energy generators, such as solar panels, have been installed with a display showing the amount of power they are generating.
The two-storey building also features a training and presentation theatre and café facilities for events, launches and demonstrations, to engage with a range of people from all sectors of the construction industry.
Wolseley's staff provide visitors with data and guidance on the most appropriate materials for specific projects, from single homes through to large-scale commercial developments.
Nigel Sibley, Wolseley UK managing director, said: 'Wolseley is committed to helping the industry reduce the environmental footprint left by developers and occupiers alike. Both regulation, such as the Code for Sustainable Homes, and market forces are driving the construction industry to embrace sustainability.
Certainly recent steep rises in energy costs have concentrated the minds of both householders and developers on the benefits of energy-efficient homes.
'Wolseley has made a significant investment which reflects our belief that sustainable products will move from 'niche' to 'norm' in the construction industry. The opening of the Sustainable Building Center moves the eco-debate decisively forward, from talk to implementation.'
The centre is not intended to be a finished work. New products and materials will be added as they are developed and come to market.