North East & Yorkshire

World-beating eco-friendly student village is BREEAM rated ‘Outstanding’

One of only 15 buildings in the world to achieve BREEAM’s highest classification of ‘Outstanding’, with a rating of 95.05%, the University of Bradford’s new 1,026 bedroom sustainable student village, ‘The Green’, has been completed on the university’s City campus.

The groundbreaking development, costing over £40 million, has beaten more than 1 million buildings assessed since the BREEAM environmental standard was launched in 1990.

The Green has been developed and designed as a partnership between the University of Bradford and the Listerhills Management Company (which is a  joint venture between Mi7 and Welbeck Land).

The development was constructed by GB Building Solutions in a joint venture with Balfour Beatty Engineering Services; Architects were the Goddard Wybor Practice.

GWP Architecture brought their experience in the field of sustainable student accommodation to the development and extensive work was required to ensure the buildings could deliver an exceptional performance for sustainability. The design used a ‘fabric first’ approach to deliver a highly efficient building envelope which minimises the need for space heating. The largest heating load is for hot water, which is provided by a renewable energy source in solar thermal collectors, which are supplemented by a combined heat and power plant.

John Wybor, Director of GWP Architecture, said: “GWP brought their experience of designing sustainable student residential accommodation to the project and The Green is the latest of a series of award winning student residential schemes designed by our practice. Each scheme has pushed the boundaries in terms of sustainability and the design/construction process. We are very pleased to have been the architects for this project and to have had the opportunity to work with a client group and construction team who were all committed to delivering a unique and transformational scheme. The scheme demonstrates what can be achieved by vision and a will to do things differently.”

The Green’s 1,026 bedrooms are ranged across four-storey townhouses and six and seven storey apartments and the BREEAM rating has been made possible through meticulous planning of the design and construction method used.

The scheme has been designed with a community village feel in mind. Whilst it is its own self contained community, it has great connectivity into the main campus and is in within easy reach of the city centre, at just a five minute walk away.  Part of the design concept is to create a step change in the way students in university accommodation interact with each other. Clever design features such as gardens and patio areas, built-in barbeques and central places to meet and relax are used to create a truly cohesive community.

The development is made up of 34 town houses and 101 apartments. At the centre of the village is ‘The Orchard’, a central hub building which incorporates the Accommodation and Management office, launderette and a small retail/coffee shop.

The town houses and apartments are positioned around a central water feature – a biodiversity pond that reuses rain water and provides a home for a number of animal and plant species. Other key environmental features include extensive recycling facilities, energy monitor screens, low energy fittings to minimise electricity consumption, washbasins and showers which are fitted with low rate fittings and dual flush toilets. The build of the development has also been carried out in a sustainable way, including using timber frames from sustainable sources.

The townhouse blocks are best described as blocks of houses, very similar to a traditional English ’terraced block’

Each townhouse has 12 bedrooms and six bathrooms. They have their own front door and a back patio door leading to a garden/patio area. Students have an access fob for the front door and for their own room

On the ground floor is the large open plan living space, a kitchen, dining room and living room with direct access to an external paved and landscaped area. On each of the floors above there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, so two students share a bathroom.

The apartments provide accommodation in clusters of six en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen/dining living space.

The buildings are composed of pre-fabricated open panel timber wall frames from a sustainable source, with locally sourced bathroom ‘pods’ having been installed by crane as completed units, to maximise productivity and reduce waste.

The building materials used, and the high standard to which the houses and apartments have been insulated and made airtight, means that rooms require little heating. Radiators in the rooms have thermostatically controlled valves and mechanical heat recovery ventilation units circulate fresh, filtered air, with an 80% recovery of existing heat from the building, resulting in a continuous supply of fresh air.

Water conservation features include aerated taps and showers that result in less water being used, as the water streams are mixed with air. Water is heated using solar panels, which pre-heats water for showers and taps, and rainwater is used to flush toilets. The pond in the centre of the village is used to harvest rainwater, as are the roofs of the buildings.

Martin Smout, chairman and chief executive of GB Building Solutions says:

“This has been a ground breaking scheme that has resulted in significant positive learning.  While everyone involved in the student village had experience of working on environmentally sustainable buildings prior to this one, The Green reached new levels, where every aspect of the

design and build was maximised to have minimum impact on the environment both during construction and during the life of the building.

“GB has definitely gained learning on this scheme that will be taken forward

to all other projects on which we work.”

The concept of allowing resident students to live in a sustainable way is something which the university is trying to encourage through its participation in the Degree Cooler programme in partnership with People & Planet.

Louise Hazan, who coordinates the Degrees Cooler project for People & Planet, said: “Helping students to lead sustainable lifestyles is key to tackling climate change and this new development at Bradford is a great example of how to integrate behaviour changing features into low-impact, sustainable buildings.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, Professor Mark Cleary, said:

“As one the most environmentally-friendly universities in the UK, The Green will help us to continue to be at the forefront of environmental education and practice, as well as providing our students with fantastic accommodation.”

The University of Bradford was rated in the top 10 of People & Planet’s Green League 2010 and has recently been named as the first ever European university to win an International Sustainable Campus Award. Its Ecoversity initiative is also recognised by many as a trail-blazer for addressing environmental impact in higher education.

Set in the heart of the university’s City Campus the accommodation will have all the advantages of being a stone’s throw away from lecture theatres and teaching rooms, the £7.5m redeveloped Student Central building housing the bar and entertainment facilities, and is also just a five minute walk to the city centre, which should reduce the university’s associated transport emissions.

Bradford has always been a forward-thinking, modern and student orientated university with a thriving and vibrant student community. The university has a firm commitment to confronting inequality and celebrating diversity.

The university’s mission of ‘Making Knowledge Work’ means that their students’ future is their top priority.

Bradford has always been pioneering in their course provision, being the first British university to offer a Peace Studies degree and the first university outside London to offer part-time degree courses. 2006 saw the university celebrate their 40th anniversary and they are also looking to the future – a future that will continue to build on their foundations of academic excellence and ‘Making Knowledge Work’, inspiring students, scholars and teachers alike to come to the University of Bradford.

The university is constantly investing in their campus and facilities to ensure all students have a world-class teaching and learning environment, state-of-the-art facilities and enhancing the vibrancy of the campus experience.

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