Our Project Story

Department of Earth Sciences.

University of Oxford | Wilkinson Eyre

Science & Research

Out of this world energy savings.

The Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford is a leading centre for geological research. The building comprises a five-storey office and teaching wing and a four-storey specialist laboratory wing, linked by a central atrium.

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

Specialist sustainability.

The project brief had demanding service requirements for the specialised laboratories. This challenge was compounded by the client’s aim to make the building the most sustainable of its type… in the world.

We worked hard with the users of the geochemistry labs (which were the single biggest energy consumers in the building) to optimise usability and availability of the individual polypropylene laminar hoods and in-use energy. With the energy demand reduced to acceptable levels, we completed a comprehensive study to assess the feasibility of the zero and low-carbon options available to us – eventually concluding that a Ground Source Energy System (GSES) would be most suitable, and tied in with the users’ interests in science!

Stats that speak for themselves.

The GSES located below the building utilises 63 closed-loop boreholes, and was designed to provide 61 percent of the building’s heating and 94 percent of the cooling requirement. This produced a predicted 17 percent reduction in the carbon emissions figures and a corresponding 38 percent reduction in energy use.

Despite its complexities, the building was delivered on-time and within budget. But we didn’t stop there – our specialist Performance team monitored and optimised the GSES system to produce an in-use performance that exceeded the challenging prediction levels. This will ensure ‘best in class’ energy-in-use consumption long into the future.

Key Figures
63 Closed-loop boreholes
38% Reduction in energy use
17% Reduction in carbon emissions