Bradford Uni gets STEM Passivhaus

GB Building Solutions to deliver UK’s first Passivhaus and BREEAM ‘outstanding’ accredited educational building

A new-build educational facility, on the same university campus as one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, has achieved the rigorous Passivhaus standard. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Building at the University of Bradford, built by GB Building Solutions, will be the UK’s first Passivhaus accredited educational building that is also on target to achieve BREEAM ‘Outstanding’.

The award-winning Estates and Facilities Team at Bradford University is committed to achieving the highest standards of energy efficiency, and worked previously with GB Building Solutions on The Green. This eco-friendly student village was the first student accommodation in the country to achieve an official BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ in 2012.

The University wanted to repeat this success in the development of its £3m STEM building to provide a highly sustainable learning environment within the campus. The project, built using a fabric-first approach, utilised very high levels of insulation, high performance windows and doors, airtight building fabric, ‘thermal bridge free’ construction and mechanical heat recovery systems.

‘Clients like the University of Bradford are increasingly demanding an in-depth understanding of low carbon techniques and practices in order to comply with new legislation and standards aimed at creating a more energy-efficient built environment. We were delighted when the Estates Team returned to seek our help with their ambitious STEM building project, which was a clear indication of their confidence in our sustainability credentials,’ said GB Group executive chairman, Martin Smout.

GB Building Solutions worked closely with the design team, including architects Watson Batty, from an early stage to help them realise their green ambitions for the STEM building. An initial partner consultation process resulted in significant cost-savings and the construction team also provided best value engineered foundations to reduce the overall budget.

Graduate trainee turned project manager Andy Costello and his team adopted best practice techniques and processes to meet the stringent sustainability measures demanded by both Passivhaus and BREEAM. They worked closely with air testing specialists STROMA and a specially employed Passivhaus assessor to achieve the U values necessary for accreditation, which was awarded in December 2013.

‘Achieving Passivhaus at the STEM building has provided a tremendous boost for everyone involved in the design and construction process. It has shown us that our internal quality and management processes are correctly aligned with both Passivhaus and BREEAM standards and we are confident that our people and partners will continue to make a world-class contribution to the industry’s drive for a more energy efficient built environment,’ said Martin Smout.

Bradford University’s Estates Manager, Engineering and Building, Russell Smith, said: ‘The University is already widely recognised for its sustainable building programme. Reducing our impact on the environment is a huge achievement, not least the part the STEM building plays in that programme being one of the few buildings ever to hold the three standards of Passivhaus, AECB (Association of Environmentally Conscious Builders) and hopefully in the near future BREEAM ‘Outstanding’. This is a huge achievement for all involved and proves without doubt these standards and building in a sustainable manner can be achieved within normal budget constraints.’


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