Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility in Leeds, The Beauty in Creating Energy from Waste

Recycling and Energy Recovery facility ERF leeds

To reduce the amount of waste it sent to landfill and to generate more power from waste, Leeds City Council invested in a state-of-the-art Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility plant. Danpalon polycarbonate façade, rainscreen and roofing materials have played a major role in the creation of ground-breaking energy from waste facility


As the UK’s seventh biggest city, Leeds City Council was having to rely on landfill to dispose of some 170,000 tonnes of residual waste generated by residents each year. The annual cost of handling waste in this way was estimated to be around £15 million.

To ensure that the city had a sustainable, long-term solution for managing domestic waste, the council entered into a private finance initiative (PFI) with the recycling operator Veolia for the provision of a dedicated recycling and energy recovery facility (RERF)

The £47 million Leeds RERF facility can treat up to 214,000 tonnes of black bin bag waste per year. From this, it is expected to recover around 16,000 tonnes of recyclable material and use the remaining waste to generate up to 15MW of power.

The multi-disciplined TSP Projects of York was put in charge of delivering the building design, with initial concepts provided by the award-winning French architect Jean- Robert Mazaud of S’pace. The main contractor was Clugston, Construction, the façade and roofing contractor was FK Group


The large scale and strategic importance of the waste treatment challenge required the Leeds RERF building to support a wide range of competing requirements:

  • The capacity to treat more than 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste,
  • A pre-treatment plant for the removal of any recyclable materials,
  • Energy recovery plant capable of generating 15MW,
  • An administration and management office block,
  • A visitor center and viewing gallery

Importantly, to align with the facility’s environmental objectives, the Leeds RERF also had to ensure minimal visual impact and at the same time help to increase biodiversity in the surrounding industrial area.


The Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) was built on brownfield land on the Green Cross Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Leeds. Concrete covering the existing site was crushed and reused in the build, removing the need for hundreds of lorry movements and the environmental and financial cost of landfill.

Considered to be one of the tallest buildings of its kind in Europe, a striking 42m high, glue-laminated timber-framed structure houses the energy recovery plant, with the complete Leeds RERF facility comprising a gross internal area of around 11,900 square meters.

This stunning arched building includes an 8- storey glass-fronted admin block for both Veolia and Leeds City Council employees, as well as a visitor’s viewing walkway at a height of 23 meters.

To help meet the biodiversity requirements, the timber building’s southern elevation is composed of a beautiful ‘living wall’, which at a staggering 1,800m2 is also one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

And to help achieve the facility’s stunning visual impact, 7,000 square meters of clear Danpalon translucent polycarbonate panels from Danpal were used: on the main walls, the arched roof, the dramatic gable ends and the northern elevation’s unique sawtooth wall design.

With Danpal Softlite co-extrusion on the inside face, the 16mm thick, 600mm wide Danpalon façade and roof cladding panels enable the building to produce a warm glow when backlit by night time operations, while during the day it reflects the natural climatic conditions of the local environment.


Leeds RERF has created a positive, eye-catching landmark for the Aire Valley region of Leeds and the Gross Green Industrial Estate. It began receiving its first deliveries of household waste in 2016.

The facility is expected to produce cost savings of £200 million over 25 years, when compared to the alternative cost of landfill, and will process an estimated 4 million tonnes of waste over its lifetime.

The power generated by the plant is exported back into the National Grid and a district heating network to support the needs of local businesses is also planned, drawing on the facility’s combined heat and power plant.

Through its extensive use of Danpalon clear polycarbonate cladding for the building’s expansive wall and roof surfaces, the Leeds RERF sits harmoniously in its semi-urban landscape. At night it gently glows, during the day it faithfully reflects the constantly changing Yorkshire skies.

Recycling and Energy Recovery facility ERF leedsCombined beautifully with the facility’s elegantly curved laminated timber structure, bold all-glass frontage and breathtaking full-height living wall, Danpalon polycarbonate panels have helped to achieve a building that only serves to enhance the local environment.

Name of the Project: Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) in Leeds
Applications: Facade + Cladding
Systems: Danpal Facade Syste + Danpal VRS System
Thickness: 16mm-600mm
Architect: Jordan Gill – TSP Project
Installer: FK Group
Color: Clear