Construction and Refurbishment

Construction & Refurbishment – Sustainability Strategy and Targets

We recognise that construction and refurbishment of buildings provides the ideal opportunity to make design decisions which enhance the energy performance and sustainability credentials of a property and in our policy we commit to considering appropriate sustainable construction, energy and water efficiency opportunities in the design, modification, and refurbishment of new and
existing facilities and maintenance practices where practical. Within our Environmental Energy Management System (EEMS) we have also set an objective to reduce the environmental impact of the institution’s capital projects (see objective 8 of our Environmental Objectives).

As such, we have set a SMART target for the construction and refurbishment of buildings as part of our strategy for implementing the Environmental and Energy objectives in our policy, using the BREEAM standard as the specific measurable.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Assessment Method) is a building assessment which uses scientifically-based sustainability metrics and indices covering a range of environmental categories. Its categories evaluate energy and water use, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology, and management processes. Buildings are rated and certified on a scale of ‘Pass’, ‘Good’, ‘Very Good, ‘Excellent’ and ‘Outstanding’.

Our previous target which was introduced in 2014 was for all newly constructed and refurbished buildings across our London Road, Whiteknights and Greenlands campuses to achieve a ‘very good’ BREEAM rating, or better. Our new SMART target is to achieve an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating for all new and refurbished buildings across all three campuses. In terms of timeframes, this has been introduced as a formal target as part of our new estates strategy which runs from 2022 to 2032, and the target BREEAM rating is required to be attained by the time of building/project completion for each new build or refurbishment project.

In addition to BREEAM rating we also use the principles of the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LEIT) Climate Emergency Design Guide to inform the thinking on the deisgn of buildings to Net Zero Carbon standards.  This guide outlines the requirements that should be met to ensure that climate change targets are met to ensure a net zero carbon future.

Brownfield sites are always prioritised for any development that is undertaken, with the focus being refurbishment and reuse of existing space. Although being delivered by a 3rd party, the new European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) headquarters is currently being planned for development on a brownfield site on the Earley Gate side of the University’s Whiteknights campus.

Progress against this target is tracked.  We currently have limited refurbishment and construction projects in progress:

  • School of School of Art refurbishment and extension: project was completed in September 2023 and is currently being assessed for its BREEAM rating. It is on track to achieve a ‘very good’ rating, in line with our previous target. The design of this project uses that principles of the LETI Climate Emergency Design Guide.
  • URS Building refurbishment: this is the next major refurbishment project. This is currently at the planning stage, which was targeting Excellent BREEAM standard. URS is a challenging building and it was decided in Apr 24 that they are now targeting Very Good as any higher would not be achievable. Feasibility studies have begun, with full construction works phased from 2024/25 to 2026/27. The design of this project is being informed by the principles of the LETI Climate Emergency Design Guide.

A list of our previously assessed buildings is provided below, along with the rating attained and a link to the corresponding BREEAM certificate.

Last review date: Apr-24, next review date: Jun-25

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