184 Sqm of additional space in two new cold rooms and extension to an existing dry room
Secure I.T. Environments Ltd, has announced the completion of a unique project to provide new environmentally controlled secure modular cold room storage facilities for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Project.
The 20-week programme, completed to schedule, gives the hugely successful Seed Bank project much needed new secure and environmentally controlled rooms for the storage and preparation of seeds and other materials.
Two new modular cold rooms measuring 65sqm (11.4 x 4.7m) were built will full refrigeration works, groundworks, LED lighting, mobile storage shelving, panic alarm and temperature control systems. An existing dry room was extended by 54sqm (9.4 x 5.7m).
Keith Manger, Property, Health & Safety & Sustainability Manager at the Millennium Seed Bank, commented, “Secure I.T. Environments understood our brief very well and the significance of the work we do at the Millennium Seed Bank. They have delivered a critical piece of infrastructure that forms an important part of our work as we continue to expand the seed collections we hold.”
The purpose-built Millennium Seed Bank facility at Wakehurst in Sussex is based around a vast vault for the long-term storage of seeds for research and conservation. At present, there are more than 82,900 seed collections in the bank; representing over 37,770 species, from almost 5,800 genera and 189 different countries. Following collection in-country, seeds are prepared and dried (to around 4–6% moisture content, fresh-weight basis), before storage in deep-freeze chambers (-18 to -20°C) within the vault.
The seed collection in the Millennium Seed Bank constitutes the largest and most diverse wild plant species genetic resource in the world. In principle, seed banking is straightforward and relies on the seeds of most (about 90%) seed-bearing plant species surviving air-drying and then freezing, which extends the longevity of these so-called ‘orthodox’ seeds in predictable ways.
Chris Wellfair, Projects Director at Secure I.T. Environments added, “This has been a unique and fascinating project for us to work on. The challenges are very much like those we come across building data centres: issues such as humidity, cooling, security, storage and ultimately the preservation of the valuable contents. They all apply whether it is data, or this critically important seed project.”