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Project of the Year – Public Use

Project of the Year – Public Use

Project of the Year – Public Use

Recognising UK public use new-builds or refurbishments that most effectively demonstrate high levels of user satisfaction and comfort, while delivering outstanding measured building performance, energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions 

Winner: Urban Sciences Building, Newcastle University – BuroHappold Engineering 

The £60m, 13,250 m2 Urban Sciences Building (USB) is the new home of Newcastle University’s School of Computing, situated on its 24-acre Helix development, and is a flagship for urban sustainability. 

Designed by Hawkins\Brown architects, part of the brief was to make the building a ‘living laboratory’ to support learning and a shop window for the university, to encourage collaboration with enterprise partners and the wider community.

As such, it is wired to more than 4,000 sensors to allow academics to see how it performs and how it interfaces with the energy, water, internet and other networks to which it is connected. 

The client wanted to develop quantifiable targets that pushed beyond BREEAM, so BuroHappold created a bespoke sustainability framework through engagement with the design team and university. The bespoke sustainability framework was impressive, clearly stating why BREEAM isn’t enough and giving proper focus to the day-to-day operation of the building. The whole-life approach and life-cycle carbon assessment were commended (the team calculated the embodied carbon for the building including all MEP systems and construction site activities) as was the operational water modelling. The judges were pleased to see a challenging of “usual standards”. 

Headline requirements included: operational energy modelling following CIBSE TM54; the gathering of baseline data from three existing Newcastle University buildings against which the operation of the Urban Sciences Building has been compared; and the use of ‘Building as a Lab’ funding to visualise performance data from the BMS sensors in real time via a Building Information Model. 

Impressively, after a year, the post-occupancy evaluation of performance revealed total energy was within 3% of the baseline prediction generated using CIBSE TM54. 

The judges were impressed by the huge amount of stakeholder involvement and the strong focus on, post-completion and estate-wide post-occupancy evaluation. This included surveying existing university buildings to gather baseline data on health, productivity and IAQ to allow comparison with the new building staff were occupying.

They also commented on the numerous innovative elements, such as the architectural engineering behind the fritted glazed façade that met stringent g-value requirements.

Project team:

Building Services Consultant: BuroHappold Engineering
Building Owner: Newcastle University
Building Occupier: Newcastle University
Project Manager: Turner & Townsend
Quantity Surveyor: Turner & Townsend
Brief Consultant: Hawkins\Brown
Architect: Hawkins\Brown
Interior Designer: Hawkins\Brown
Mechanical/Electrical Engineering Contractor: NG Bailey
Main Contractor: Bowmer & Kirkland
Investment/Property Company: Newcastle University
Developer: Newcastle University
Facilities Manager: Newcastle University
Sustainability Consultants - BuroHappold Engineering & DSSR

Judges’ comments:

This is a complex project that’s been well-delivered, a year ahead of schedule and on budget, by running procurement and design concurrently, and engaging with the supply chain.


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