Planning a new home to move into, the nuns of Thicket Priory monastery placed green technology at the top of their list of specifications. Alongside geothermal heating, solar panels and green roofing, project architects turned to high performance Celotex insulation for thermal efficiency.

Having lived in a Victorian mansion in Thorgarby, Yorkshire since 1955, the 11 strong Carmelite order of nuns planned to move to a smaller, purpose built home in the same village. The new monastery, featuring living quarters, a chapel and meditation chamber, was designed by architects McNeil Beechey O’Neill.

Built by Hobson & Porter, under a partnering contract, the thermally efficient Celotex insulation boards were fitted into the roof, floors and walls of the new building. Owing to the varied use of insulation across the project the Project Team chose to use Celotex products from both the FR4000 and GA3000 range to provide high quality insulation targeted to the various needs of the scheme. The choice of insulation was especially important as it would serve to ensure that the geothermal heating system provided sufficient temperature control.

Wall and roofing insulation was provided by the groundbreaking FR4000. A pioneering development in polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation board, it offers remarkable features with excellent thermal efficiency as well as Class O fire performance. In addition, it achieves an ‘A’ rating in the 2008 Green Guide to Specification, as well as low Global Warming Potential and zero Ozone Depletion Potential, making it ideal for the green aims of the project.

Lightweight and easily cut on site, the highly workable FR4000 was applied to all roof spaces, held in place with battens and left uncovered to provide loft space. In the chapel, featuring a 12m high raised roof in keeping with monastic tradition, the rafters were covered and plastered. It was also applied to all wall spaces on the interior and exterior of the structure.

Celotex GA3000 was used for the under floor insulation, aimed at providing the monastery with a complete and super effective thermal shell. Laid onto a base of substrate, the GA3000 boards were then covered with a flooring screed. The advantage of this type of underfloor insulation is principally in energy saving, as the tightly butted joints of the Celotex boards prevent the transfer of cold from the ground and ensure that there is no thermal bridging at the edges of the floors.

The diligent use of insulation on this project resulted in a significant reduction in heating needs. This was essential given that the nuns were to rely on a geothermal system for heating provision. The monastery’s high performance thermal shell, provided by Celotex, ensured that their green heating system was able to function effectively and goes a long way to combating carbon emissions – over 50% of domestic CO2 emissions stem from special heating requirements.

At the end of the project, the nuns of Thicket Priory invited all of the designers and contractors who had helped them move into their energy efficient new home to an inauguration service. The centrepiece of this event was the installation of the Smith bell, cast in 1640, which was kindly given by St Helen’s Parish Church, Wheldrake. The celebration marked an enjoyable transition for the nuns to their new monastery – kept warm by supremely thermally efficient Celotex insulation.

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