Energy efficiency and sustainability facts and figures

One of our goals is to ensure our new building is as energy-efficient and sustainable as it can possibly be. To achieve this, we have invested in a combination of modern control systems with groundbreaking technology that will help minimise the environmental impact of the building. The building is certified ‘BREEAM Excellent’ rating. Here we have collected a list of sustainability facts and figures to help understand how some of the systems work.

  • The building is expected to consume 49% less energy in comparison to existing UK buildings of the same size and use.
  • The building’s carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be 42% less than existing UK buildings of the same size and use.
  • The building’s fabric and systems have been designed to accommodate an Oxford 2040 future weather scenario and potential climate change conditions
  • In accordance with Oxford City Council’s planning requirements and calculation methodology, low carbon (GSHP) and zero carbon (PV) technologies combined contribute 20% of the regulated energy demand of the building

A detail of the double glass skin facade; the green roof a few weeks after being planted; the solar panel systems being installed. All images by Rob Judges.

  • Automated natural ventilation with daytime solar blinds and summer night cooling

The building aims to do the vast majority of its ventilation naturally, using the design of the building to help air to circulate. The six-storey central atrium plays a major role in drawing up warm air, creating a natural flow of air through the building. To help keep the building cool in summer, during the day, intelligent blinds react to the sun’s position and intensity to ensure that the building does not overheat. At night, the exposed concrete absorbs and stores daytime heat to be released back when exposed to cooler air at night. The outer glass skin of the building has gaps between panes to allow fresh air to circulate around the inner façade and create a micro-climate that assists in heating the building. The perimeter rooms are naturally ventilated through automated slots in the inner façade in mid-season, and are kept cool via mechanical displacement ventilation in summer. The internal rooms are provided with mechanical displacement ventilation, to maintain a comfortable and healthy environment year round. Heat recovery is employed during cool weather and mechanical ventilation is intelligently controlled to respond to internal air temperature and air quality.

  • Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) system for heating and cooling

The building is heated and cooled by a ground source heat pump system using an array of 72 bore holes underneath the building. This system is expected to contribute around 15% of the space heating and hot water demand and all of the cooling across the year. The system absorbs heat from the ground to provide winter heating to the building. In the summer, heat is rejected into the ground to provide cooling, at the same time as ‘charging’ the ground with heat that can be reclaimed in the colder season. The building’s ground source heat pump system mirrors that of the Mathematical Institute and is part of a wider strategy within the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, where the different systems will be interconnected for maximum efficiency.

  • Solar panel electricity systems and low energy lighting

The building has the maximum permitted photovoltaic panel array on the rooftop. This is expected to generate over 27MWh/yr: enough electricity to power 480 typical (26W) light fittings for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year. The array will save the grid-supplied electrical equivalent of over 14tonnes of CO2 per year. Lighting in the building is low energy and has intelligent motion-sensor controls: when a room is left empty, the light will switch off to minimise consumption.

  • Rainwater harvesting, green roof and storm tanks

Rainwater is harvested and stored underground, and used for toilet flushing to help reduce mains water consumption. We estimate this will save around 150,000 litres a year in mains water. Two levels of the building have a partial green roof (also called living roof) covered with vegetation that helps enhance biodiversity and also contributes to attenuate storm water run-off. The construction of the building also included the installation of two storm tanks to make sure that, if there is a deluge, the risks of inundation in the area around the building are reduced.