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(L-R) Dave Vernon (University of Leicester) and James Elliment (Wilmott Dixon) with the Passivhaus certificate

Leicester claims largest non-residential Passivhaus building

£42m Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester also achieves record level of energy efficiency

Posted by Hannah Oakman | March 10, 2016 | Bricks & mortar

The University of Leicester’s new Centre for Medicine building, built by contractor Willmott Dixon and designed by Associated Architects, has officially received Passivhaus Certification – making it the largest Passivhaus building in the UK.

Developed in Germany in the early 1990s, Passivhaus is the fastest-growing energy performance standard in the world and is set to reduce the University’s energy bill for its new teaching and research facility by six times, due to its excellent thermal performance.

A key facet of Passivhaus is a ‘fabric first’ approach to construction and as such the building is incredibly well insulated and air tight to prevent heat leakage through the windows, walls, floor and roof. Comfort for staff, students and visitors from the local community and beyond, will be maintained by a state-of-the-art heating, cooling and ventilation system.

The Centre for Medicine will record a ‘-2’ energy performance asset rating, placing it in the ‘A+’ category and will even have its own green wall and roof, representing the University’s commitment to the environment. The green wall and roof will have a planting regime specifically designed to attract insects and birds which will help pollination and to promote bio-diversity. External planting will also help to reduce the overall temperature of the building.

Dave Vernon, Project Manager at the University of Leicester said: “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.

“Many of the myths surrounding Passivhaus buildings have been dispelled and users are now energised and excited about the imminent move.”

James Elliment, operations manager at Willmott Dixon, added: “Delivering a Passivhaus on such a large scale is not without its challenges and we employed a number of energy efficient mechanisms to ensure that this standard was met. The building boasts many intelligent energy efficiencies including a ground to air heat exchange system, active solar shading and embedded soffit cooling which aids in the reduction of energy used within the building.

Warren Jukes, Director of Associated Architects, commented: “What we have achieved has shown it is possible to meet the challenges of energy reduction while developing an estate. Its significance shouldn’t be under estimated as it is now a national exemplar and energy performance benchmark for future developments of this scale and complexity.”  

CEO Jon Bootland from The Passivhaus Trust said: “Delivering a Passivhaus successfully at this scale is very challenging and has been of great interest to all our members and industry experts. The project has been featured at the UK Passivhaus Conference at various stages of development and is a great example that closing the performance gap on complex large scale projects is achievable.”

The Centre for Medicine is the largest investment in medical teaching and applied research by a UK university in the last decade. The University has invested £32m into the project and has launched the ambitious Centre for Medicine Appeal to raise an additional £10 million to complete the project.  The Centre will help to meet the demand for more capable and caring doctors and house applied research that will be at the forefront of improved patient safety and the fight against chronic disease.”

To make a donation to the Centre for Medicine Appeal, or for more information, please visit www.le.ac.uk/savinglives.

Photographs of the Centre for Medicine (credit: University of Leicester)

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