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SEC partners logos (ERDF, HEFCE and Ecoveristy).

Case Study - Re:Centre

re:centre at the University of Bradford will open its doors in June and will provide a new space for research, regeneration, reinvention and rethinking the future.

The building was known throughout its building phase as The Sustainable Enterprise Centre, but it is recognised that thinking around sustainability has moved considerably since this project started back in 2007 and the new name will ‘re:flect’ new agendas in a way that is distinctive within Higher Education.

The re:centre has been designed to the University's target driven sustainability specification, delivering the world's highest ever pre-construction BREEAM (external link) rating of 94.95% at award. The building seeks to be the focal point in embedding sustainable living and learning within all University activities in unison with the Ecoversity vision. The building will showcase sustainable development and construction at its best and expand the University's relationship with the wider community.

The re:centre will be used for research and knowledge transfer activities and as an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) 'learner' centre.  It will provide facilities for ESD events (which work mainly with primary school children) and learning opportunities through the building's function and the sustainable construction that are integral to the design.

This project has been funded by ERDF (external link), HEFCE (external link) and the University. The project has attracted £2.322 million capital grant investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe's support for the region's economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

The Building Design

The design has been driven by the University's Estates team and its ambitious Sustainable Construction Specification. The re:centre will be built on the space that currently occupies the car park between Richmond building and Ashfield. The building itself has been designed to minimise the need for mechanical interventions to heat and cool the building, therefore reducing the amount of energy needed to run it. The building is laid out over 4 floors and is built into a slope to incorporate a lower ground floor. The building is of a gentle curved form, running from Richmond Road to the Ashfield building. The entrance to the ground floor is on the south east side facing Horton D building.

There is a naturally lit atrium at the centre of the building providing access to circulation space. There is natural ventilation in the summer months to prevent the building becoming too hot and stuffy. In the winter months this is turned off, and the building is heated by ground source heat pumps.

Sustainable Building Materials and Features

Instead of using the traditional building material concrete in the construction, the design team have opted to use Hemcrete. Unlike concrete, Hemcrete is a truly renewable material. It is made from hemp grown sustainably in the UK and is mixed with a lime-based binder. This produces a building material which is highly thermal efficient. This is used in conjunction with a timber frame, which is also a naturally renewable material.

There is solar shading on the glazed south facing side of the building in the form of brise-soleil. This minimises glare and overheating in the summer, but still enables solar heat gain in the winter.

Rainwater harvesting will be installed to cut down on water usage which will be utilised for flushing toilets.

Other sustainable features of the re:centre are the use of ground source heat pumps, solar thermal and solar PV panels and rainwater harvesting. Together, these three solutions will result in a 20% reduction in the building carbon emissions as well as dramatically reducing the reliance on mains energy and water.

Certifications and Accolades

The re:centre building has already been awarded a BREAAM Outstanding score of 94.95%, pre-assessment - the highest accredited award for sustainable building development and operation. BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method for buildings, which sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and is used to describe a building's environmental performance. In conjunction with the BREEAM score, the building is aiming for a platinum LEED accreditation - an internationally recognised green building certification system, which is used extensively throughout the US and Europe. It also has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of an A-grade, with 'A' being the most efficient and 'G' being the least.

re:centre- 3D Walkthrough Video (external link)