Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

By Donna Kelly
29 August 2012 —
The $15 million Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation is after the title of the world’s most sustainable listed building.

The Centre, hosted by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Napier universities, aims to be a focal point for low carbon experts from business, finance and the public sector.

Malcolm Fraser Architects won the tender in September 2009 with the centre being built within the former 18th century, historic, Edinburgh Old High School in High School Yards. Former pupils include Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer Sir Walter Scott.

The development brief gives consideration to adjoining buildings, and includes proposals to reinvigorate the land within the high school yards, to the boundary of Infirmary Street to the front of the school and the enclosed space of Surgeon’s Square to the rear.

The development will provide:

  • refurbished teaching/seminar space
  • lecture/conferencing facilities
  • meeting/break out rooms
  • press/television room
  • exhibition space
  • offices for staff and a Masters student hub incorporating a computer suite, social space and informal meeting/idea generation areas.

Contractor GRAHAM Construction last month started erecting an innovative timber frame for the new centre.

Graham Construction regional director Neil McFarlane said the challenge of creating a building which could be the only one of its kind in the world was daunting, but one the company was “relishing being a part of”.

“Now that the timber frame is going up, we can really see the fabric of the new building start to take shape and we look forward to delivering on the ECCI’s vision of a unique facility which actively encourages collaboration among its occupants,” he said.

And while the main building phase has just started, if all goes to plan, the centre could become the first refurbished building in the world to achieve an “outstanding” rating from Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

BREEAM considers elements such as waste, pollution, land use and ecology, materials, management, health and wellbeing, energy, transport, water and an imaginative approach.

The centre’s features, including using harvested rainwater for use in the flushing of toilets and using solar-controlled glazing in the windows to keep occupants cool and remove the need for air conditioning and underfloor heating, will contribute to a 30 per cent saving in energy consumption over the building’s former performance.

In media interviews, project architect Calum Duncan said people would not be able to see that the centre was a world-class energy efficient building.

“There are actually a great deal of developing technologies that are used, but they are not necessarily obvious or particularly glamorous,” he said.

“It’s really important for sustainability not to lose energy. This is a category B listed building which is draughty and leaky so we need to make the new and existing parts airtight.

“There’s a lot of sticky tape involved and airtight membranes. The tape is more sophisticated that it sounds, but it is not a ‘look at me’ technology.”

Other innovations including hanging plant baskets to attract bees and butterflies.

The centre is expected to be completed and opened in the North Hemisphere’s summer of 2013.

See the work at the centre at: www.edinburghcentre.org

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