VIDEO: Uni building to become UK’s largest Passivhaus

The University of Leicester has unveiled development plans for its new Centre for Medicine building which is set to become the largest Passivhaus building in the UK when it opens during the next academic year.

The £42m Centre – which will bring together academics, clinicians and students under one roof – will record a ‘-2’ energy performance asset rating and comes complete with its own green wall and roof, helping pollination and promoting bio-diversity in the local area. (Scroll down for video).

Passivhaus – the fastest-growing energy performance standard in the world – is set to reduce the University’s energy bill for its new teaching and research facility by six times, due to the excellent thermal performance of the building.

Green designs

University of Leicester project manager Dave Vernon said: “Many of the myths surrounding Passivhaus buildings have been dispelled and users are now energised and excited about the imminent move.

“Users from the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology have been heavily involved in the design of the building and through our soft landing process are fully engaged in learning how to work in such an innovative building.”

Developed in Germany in the early 1990s, Passivhaus is essentially a ‘fabric-first’ approach to construction and as such the building is well-insulated and air-tight to prevent heat leakage through the windows, walls, floor and roof, and a state-of-the-art heating, cooling and ventilation system will maintain comfort for the building’s inhabitants.

Paul Nesbitt, operations manager at construction company Willmott Dixon, said the new Centre for Medicine will be “ten times more energy efficient than a normal building”.

“We have super levels of insulation, all of the glazing will be triple glazed, and we have a 1.6km underground heat recovery pipe network which will effectively provide free air conditioning and temperature control to the building,” Nesbitt said. 


The University is investing £32m of scarce capital resources into the project and is seeking to raise an additional £10m through an ambitious fundraising campaign to complete the build.

The University’s director of development Steve O’Connor added: “We are grateful to our generous and committed philanthropic supporters and benefactors who have already helped to raise more than £2m and get the appeal off to a flying start.

“The Centre will help to meet the local demand for more capable and caring doctors and house applied research that will be in the vanguard of improved patient safety and the fight against chronic disease.”

VIDEO: Centre for Medicine’s green credentials

The University of Leicester ranked relatively low – 113th out of 126 universities – in a recent report into the environmental impact of universities based on publically available carbon emission data. Leicester saw a 14% increase in emissions in the eight-year period between 2005 and 2013, despite having an ambitious taget to reduce emissions by 60% by 2020 from the same baseline.

Luke Nicholls

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