Nottingham University’s carbon-neutral laboratory receives highest green building accolades

A carbon-neutral laboratory built from natural materials by infrastructure services firm AECOM has become one of the first buildings globally to achieve the highest certifications under BREEAM and LEED standards systems for green buildings.

Designed for Nottingham University, and part funded by GlaxoSmithKline, the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry has achieved BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum certifications.

AECOM delivered the BREAAM and LEED, a rating system developed by the US Green Building Council to rival the UK’s system, services of the project, which includes a carbon-neutral lab powered by solar energy and biofuel. The infrastructure firm also provided mechanical and electrical engineering, ensuring that any excess heat generated is used by adjacent buildings on the campus.

“The GSK Carbon Neutral laboratories demonstrates that state-of-the-art laboratories and science facilities can still achieve world-leading standards for sustainability and energy efficiency,” AECOM’s associate director of building engineering Matthew Butler said.

“Nottingham University and the entire project team were committed to working towards BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum from the outset, which was key to achieving the centre’s impressive green credentials.” 

The GSK laboratory was designed to act as a catalyst for industry collaborations focused on creating world-leading ‘clean and green’ research into sustainable chemistry. Local schools and colleges will also receive access to the working laboratories and technical support.

Excess energy generated by the building during its lifespan will offset all the carbon associated with its construction, allowing it to reach carbon-neutral status. AECOM designed the building to use minimal energy, utilising natural ventilation, wind catchers, a water leak detection system and sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) to deliver energy and water reductions. A green roof featuring drought-tolerant native species has also been equipped.

Reaching both LEED Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding certifications establishes the building as a market leader. Not only does it join the likes of the Crystal – a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens – in attaining both standards, but the basic build concept can also be applied to future schemes to comply with relative sustainability standards across the globe, where different sustainability metrics, such as water, rank more prominently.

Building benefits

AECOM’s director of sustainability and building engineering Ant Wilson has previously urged political parties and mayoral candidates to add more “credibility” to their green policy targets, after a raft of policy changes on zero carbon building standards in the UK.

The political uncertainty surrounding UK green buildings arrives at a time where the number of companies that have more than 60% of their building projects certified ‘green’ is expected to more than double, according to the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC).

In fact, the WorldGBC claimed that investment in green buildings is also a smart business move for building developers and owners as it can have a positive impact on property values and attract premium rents.

Matt Mace

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