The Norwich Research Park Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA) is an ambitious project that looks to deliver one of the greenest buildings ever created in the UK. It aims to achieve both BREEAM Outstanding and Passivhaus Certification, will showcase innovative use of locally sourced materials and have a fraction of the embodied energy of a traditional building. In the coming months, Benedict Binns will be providing regular updates on the development's progress.
Hello and welcome to our first posting as part of our new blog for 2degrees. We’ll be giving you regular updates as we progress with our exciting project to build the Exemplar Low Carbon Building. Currently in planning with our local authority, the University of East Anglia building is targeting Passivhaus certification and BREEAM Outstanding using local renewable materials.
This landmark project is part-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund, in addition to match funding from the University of East Anglia, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBRSC), Norwich Research Park (NRP) and BRE.
The tender, using a single point of delivery (SPD) approach, was won by Morgan Sindall and its team includes Architype, BDP, BSRIA, Churchman Landscape Architects as well as Stephen Letch, chair of East Anglian Master Thatchers.
Part of the funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is also being used to showcase the design, build and post occupancy of the building through free seminars for SMEs across the East of England. We hope that every meeting and decisions that arise from them are recorded and shared so that others can learn from our findings as we balance Passivhaus, embodied carbon, BREEAM and cost.
The planned building is to host an enterprise centre, teaching and learning rooms – including a 300 seat lecture theatre. The brief included a remit to fulfill the ERDF requirements that the building is a demonstration of innovation in design, build and post occupancy. Part of that demonstration was to include facilities for testing the next generation of renewable materials.
We also asked the tenders to calculate the carbon of a 100 year life cycle of the building from cradle to grave. A tough brief, but one which Morgan Sindall’s team rose to the challenge. Their tender suggested the use of local timber from Thetford Forest using a Bretstapel method, hemp batts, three types of thatch and the use of flint.
The three key challenges are: is it possible to use local timber from the East of England to create a structure for the building when no construction supply chain exists; second, is Passivhaus possible using renewable materials; third, can the project be built at a cost relative to other UEA buildings?
The design targets Passivhaus Certification with an overall annual primary energy demand of < 120kWh/m2 and also aims to achieve a BREEAM 'Outstanding' rating.
With an established best-practice benchmark for ‘embodied energy’ in university buildings of 845 kg of CO2 per square metre, the goal for the NRP Enterprise Centre is just 168 kgCO2e/m2. This represents a huge saving of CO2 over the 100-year lifetime of the building.
The centre aims to bring together teaching and learning facilities with work spaces for local companies. It will also house an early-stage incubator for start-up businesses to provide opportunities for UEA graduates and encourage staff on the research park to start their own businesses.