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Campus Timeline:
Phytobiology Building (2013)

The Phytobiology Building is a state-of-the-art controlled environment and glasshouse facility for research into plant science and food security.
  • An energy-efficient glasshouse building (no mean feat).
  • 30% of the building's cooling will come from "free-cooling".
  • A thermal heating storage vessel will generate more energy-efficient cooling.

The design concept has been to meet the buildings heating and cooling demands, which are considerable for a ‘glasshouse’ facility, in a manner which mitigates energy costs and associated CO2 emissions.

As a result of the design strategy, this building has significantly reduced its heating and cooling loads by 73% and 65% respectively when compared to a traditional glasshouse design.

Essential Information

Start & Finish dates June 2012 – February 2013
Funded by Capital Projects
Budget £5M
Requested by School of Life Sciences
Managed by Estates Office
Architects BMJ (Boswell Mitchell Johnston)
Quantity Surveyors Jacobs
Mechanical Engineers CPW (Couch Perry Wilkes)
Electrical Engineers CPW (Couch Perry Wilkes)
Structural Engineers CTM (Cox Turner Morse)
Main Contractor Willmott Dixon
Landscaping Willmott Dixon


Basic Building Cost £2,700/m2
Services Costs £900/m2
External Works TBC £/m2
Gross Floor Area 1,130m2
Total Area of Site 2,000 m2
Function Areas and Their Size Controlled Environment Hall
Glasshouse (polycarbonate) ‘Gro-Dome’
Laboratory Space
Preparation Room
Storage Facilities
Office / Rest room and Toilets
Teaching (wet) Lab 270m2
Area of Storage Circa 50m2
Area of Circulation Circa 100m2
Electricity Consumption TBC kWh/m2
Fossil Fuel Consumption TBC kWh/m2
Low Carbon Energy Generation Yes
Water use TBC m3/year
Steps taken to reduce environmental impact
  • 30% of the buildings cooling load will be provided using ‘free-cooling’ via absorption cooling and the district heating network.
  • A thermal storage vessel will be charged overnight, enabling additional energy efficient electrical generation from the University’s central CHP plant.
  • Air permeability for the building has been designed at 70% lower than the Building Regulations, ensuring better environmental conditions for research and significantly reducing energy losses.