Designing, Building and Operating a Highly Sustainable Building
Coventry University has been emerging as one of the pioneering further education destinations since its status as a University came to fruition in 1992. Their forward thinking approach and commitment to providing the students with high standards of learning spaces has lead to the attainment of many awards. Recognition for their efforts has included winning the 2011 Entrepreneurial University of the Year, 2011 Outstanding Support for Students and they have been named as a first class university of environment and ethical performance in the People and Planet Green League 2012.
With the recent completion of the ECB at the beginning of the academic year their achievements look set to continue on this successful course. Georgios Kapogiannis, Associate Lecturer in Civil Engineering, Architecture and Building at Coventry University, began by informing the attendees of the fantastic facilities the university has on offer for small to medium enterprises and construction companies within the West Midlands region, with their range of high tech equipment as part of their Sustainable Building Futures Project co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The project provides fully-funded business support in helping SMEs to expand what they are already doing in sustainable construction or looking to diversify into this area.
Gideon Howell, Environmental Technologies Business Manager, part of the Sustainable Building Future project, began discussing the new addition to Coventry’s campus, the Engineering and Computing building. The external façade provides the perfect envelope for this innovative building. Gideon tells us how it combines genuine style and design flair whilst forming an important part of the buildings energy strategy. The imposing Bri Soleil hoods fixed to the glulam timber curtain walling system, located in the south facing courtyard, deflect the direct glare from the sun. This prevents the extensively glazed exterior from raising internal temperatures drastically. The automatically operated window actuators work in conjunction with the Building Management System to regulate the internal temperature. These are not only located on the curtain wall but on louvered roof lights. A night time purging strategy has been designed to reduce the requirement of mechanical cooling. The cool, exposed concentre draws in heat generated in the building through out warmer summer days. At night time the BMS system opens the actuated windows and louvers, releasing the heat stored in the concrete and returning them to their cool status ready to draw in excess heat once again the following day.
The layout of the building has been designed to take into account its south facing elevations. The positioning of offices, which have a lower occupancy per m2, is biased to this elevation as there is less heat generated by occupants than in the teaching spaces, which are positioned to be mainly north facing. Design considerations like this have helped to reduce the requirements for mechanical heating and cooling in these areas.
Spaces have also been designed to be as efficient as possible. Each m2 of any project carries a cost and a carbon foot print, wasted space was not an option in this building. As opposed to traditional long narrow corridors ‘shared spaces’ have been formed. These areas are very popular with students and provide a hub of learning in the middle of the building. This area utilises heating, lighting and construction that could have been wasted on a mere corridor.
As we made our way past the buildings centre piece, a harrier jump jet positioned on the lower ground floor, Gideon introduced us to another of the buildings features, the biomass boiler. It is fed by English sourced sustainable pellets. Each load lasts up to Thirty days and significantly reduces the reliance on gas to heat the water supply. Water is pre heated by the solar panels located on the roof. The biomass boiler then heats the water enough to supply the buildings taps and radiators with sufficiently warm water. Alongside the boiler is a rainwater tank capable of harvesting enough water to supply the toilets throughout the project.
The design, construction and operation along with the University’s commitment to providing students with a pioneering, applied research building has lead to the BREEAM Excellent award being granted to this project. Combining this with the campus’ recent achievements and future business strategy we hope there are more such like projects to come.
Thanks to Coventry University and the CIOB for the event.
James Thomas Smith ICIOB
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