Friday, 24 February 2017

From strength to strength

After the University of Bradford’s unprecedented second win of the top prize at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Building Performance Awards, CIBSE’s Technical Director Dr Hywel Davies explains what makes the University’s work stand out

The University adopted a 'fabric-first' approach, renovating
outdated and inefficient elements
The University of Bradford’s Department of Estates and Facilities is no stranger to the Building Performance Awards – they won two awards in 2012, including the overall Champion’s Award, for the impressive work they had carried out under their imaginative ‘Ecoversity’ programme. That they are back again in 2017 with another two wins under their belt proves the effectiveness of the strategy they created and their long term commitment to buildings that perform to meet the needs of the University.

In common with many universities in the UK, the Bradford has a large and varied building portfolio, which often includes examples that are a challenge for FMs due to their age or function. In Bradford’s case this is a bigger problem, because most of their estate’s 28 buildings were constructed in the 60s and 70s, with the attendant problems of poor thermal performance, asbestos, large single-glazed areas and blown air heating.

Unfazed by considerable hurdles, the Estates and Facilities team implemented their ‘Ecoversity’ approach, which is designed to tackle the issues in both the building fabric and the culture of the University that were holding it back. This involved considerable physical improvements. They over-clad a thirteen-storey 33,940 sq m tower and a three-storey 8,500 sq m workshop block dating from the sixties; implemented LED lighting and controls installations and replaced transformers and pumps. They also introduced engineering and control improvements to the district heating network; expanded the BEMS, and reviewed and optimised compressed air use.

As well as these one off measures, the team also conduct rolling energy and water audits, regularly review their air conditioning systems and consult with users over operating times, and have installed a second Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system as well as optimising the existing plant.

Bradford were commended for including staff and students in their
drive to develop the University sustainably
On top of this, the Estates and Facilities team introduced changes to the culture around sustainability within the University. This involved expanding Ecoversity beyond the running of Estates and Facilities and into the formal and informal learning experience of all the University’s students. 

Staff and students are involved in their initiatives, and a strong sense of community is fostered around the idea of sustainable development of the University site, in order to help occupants and users improve behaviours. To oversee this, two new posts – mechanical and electrical building services technicians – were created in 2014. One of their core roles is to identify anomalous energy use and wastage, and apply on-site solutions.

The Bradford team previously won the top prize in 2012, the called the
Carbon Champion Award
The results speak for themselves: City Campus in Bradford is the only place in the world where a single estate has three ‘BREEAM Outstanding’ buildings and a Passivhaus building within 100 metres of each other with the highest ever BREEAM Outstanding score for a university for the Bright Building. It has cut its carbon footprint by a stunning 35% over the last decade and dramatically reduced utility costs by 27% in a market that has risen by 90%, saving £8 million compared to ‘business as usual’. 

Overall its wide ranging initiative has been a great success for the University and is an example for all in the sector that buildings that perform effectively for the occupants save money, and not just energy.

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