Sustainable buildings


The University is committed to developing low carbon buildings, setting ourselves the ambitious target of BREEAM Excellent as a minimum for all new capital projects ─ the most widely used environmental assessment for buildings. 

This standard ensures that sustainability is included throughout all stages of building development, from design through to post-occupancy. This includes:

  • minimising transportation during construction
  • using recycled materials
  • low energy and water consumption
  • enhancing biodiversity

GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry exterior, Jubilee campus

Green features of the University's recent new builds include:

  • rainwater harvesting
  • living wall and green roofs
  • passive design
  • biomass boilers
  • straw bale construction


GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry

The first carbon neutral laboratory to be built in the UK, this building was awarded BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum certifications in April 2017– the highest levels of green building certifications.

The laboratory is built from natural materials and energy needs are met by renewable sources such as solar power and sustainable biofuel. Excess energy generated by the building is used to heat adjacent offices and will provide enough carbon credits over 25 years to pay back the carbon used in its construction.

The building includes a winter garden, designed to capture low-level heat in the spring, and a green roof that helps to insulate the building and reduce stormwater runoff.

Chemicals at the facility are held in special storage units, meaning individual laboratories can shut down overnight, substantially reducing ventilation and cooling requirements.

Overall, the building is estimated to deliver power savings of more than 60% and will use just 15% of the heat needed for a more traditional building design.

Read more about the building design

Research Acceleration and Demonstration building

The building has been designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent and includes Passivhaus measures to reduce energy requirements. Passivhaus is based on the creation of a building with excellent insulation and a high level of airtightness, in which air quality is maintained via a whole building mechanical ventilation system.

Housing state-of-the-art facilities for research and testing as part of the Energy Research Accelerator initiative, it is one of the first research centres in the UK to combine BREEAM and the German Passivhaus system. It includes laboratory space for research ranging from harvesting and storing wind energy, to the development of new materials for hydrogen storage.

The building also features a four storey ‘living wall’, helping to regulate temperature and insulate sound.  

Creative Energy Homes

The University has built a number of real homes to conduct research into energy efficiency and low or zero-carbon housing.

Working with various industry sponsors, the Creative Energy Homes showcase innovative energy-efficient homes of the future on a real street - Green Close - on University Park campus.



Regeneration at Jubilee Campus 

Built on former industrial land, Jubilee Campus is an outstanding example of brownfield regeneration, sustainability, low energy design and innovative architecture. Green design practices include:

  • use of natural materials such as cedar redwood cladding and recycled newspaper insulation
  • roof-mounted wind catchers to provide ventilation
  • maximising natural daylight internally while providing external shading to control solar gain
  • low energy lighting and intelligent controls
  • innovative earth tube to passively heat / cool external air entering the building
  • series of man-made lakes that provide a valuable wildlife habitat and contribute to heating and cooling of buildings
  • rainwater runoff is fed back into the lakes  
  • low-growing alpine plants on roofs, which contribute to biodiversity and water attenuation



  • 2017 ─ RIBA East Midlands Sustainability Award for George Green Library 
  • 2017 ─ S-Lab Best Physical Sciences building for GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry
  • 2017 ─ RICS Regional Award Design Through Innovation for GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry
  • 2015 ─ RIBA East Midlands Sustainability Award for The Barn
  • 2014 ─ BREEAM Education Building of the Year for Energy Technologies Building

Sustainability Team

Estate Office, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD