University of Nottingham (Sustainable Chemistry)


Nottingham, UK


University of Nottingham



Size of Project:



  • Complex Buildings & Materials
  • Net Zero

The Project:

The ambition for the GSK Centre for Sustainable Chemistry was ahead of its time. The design brief in May 2010 required that “over the buildings’ minimum working life of around twenty five years enough carbon will have been displaced from the UK fossil fuel powered grid to offset the embodied CO2 used in the initial construction and its eventual deconstruction for recycling”. The brief, methodology and guidance for the design and contractor teams was all developed before the RICS methodology or other comprehensive industry guidance in measuring life-cycle carbon.
KLH worked closely alongside the design team, providing carbon expertise and analysis of each key design decision to ensure the project ambitions were met. Embodied carbon was reduced as far as reasonably practical through the extensive use of renewable materials including glulam and CLT superstructure with wood fibre insulation and paperboard partition linings. Concrete piled foundations were replaced with vibro stone columns and an insulation only ductwork system introduced. To ensure a robust carbon footprint KLH worked closely with the architects to select products with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), ultimately resulting in over 90% of the sub and superstructure of the building mass covered by EPDs.

A net-zero research chemistry laboratory, which, over 5 years on, has not been surpassed in terms of carbon credentials. "This building is an opportunity for us to learn how to do science, chemistry, in a fundamentally different way"

Prof Peter Licence Head of Sustainable Chemistry, University of Nottingham