Are we building too much lab space?
University of Exeter, UK
Part of the University of Exeter, the inspiring Living Systems Institute brings together mathematicians, scientists, and engineers in a bid to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases. Placing the university firmly on the map of top scientific research centres, it’s also brought financial and associated socio-economic benefits to the wider area.
Bringing a diverse range of environments together across seven storeys was our biggest challenge. However, there were also complications around the physical location of the new building; how it would impact upon its neighbours was critical. After rigorous feasibility studies of the wider site, we advised our client on the optimal building shape, its size, and its relationship to surrounding buildings. CFD modelling was also carried out to test that local air quality levels would be adequately protected and maintained by the fume cupboard discharge stacks.
The university needed to meet its own carbon-reduction commitment and improve energy consumption by 10 percent, so our early thermal dynamic modelling informed passive performance. It laid the foundations for the application of innovative solutions that lower and – where possible – provide zero-carbon technologies to reduce emissions. We specified a demand-controlled ventilation system – the first installation in a UK new-build. This solution is expected to reduce carbon emissions for the whole building by more than 100 tonnes a year. In collaboration with the university, we are leading the in-use performance optimisation of this system, with a view to sharing results with the wider research community.