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University of Plymouth
Sustainability Design Brief
Relevance of Sustainability ..................................................................
Sustainability Design Brief and targets ..................................................
Design Targets: GLOBAL ...............................................................
Design Targets: ENERGY ...............................................................
Design Targets: WATER ................................................................
Design Targets: WATER ................................................................
Design Targets: CARBON ...............................................................
Design Targets: MATERIALS & WASTE ............................................
Design Targets: MICROCLIMATE & ECOLOGY ...................................
Design Targets: POLLUTION ..........................................................
Design Targets: HEALTH & WELLNESS ............................................
Appendix 1: Energy Consumption Benchmarks .......................................
Appendix 2: Ecopoints: a single score environmental assessment .............
Relevance of Sustainability
“Sustainable design provides for the demands of
today whilst protecting the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs” [adapted from
Brundtland Report, 1987]
A sustainable university building not only embraces
the concept of sustainability but also is, in itself, a
teaching tool for sustainability. Its design must
economic performance.
Globally, buildings consume large amounts of
resources and emit different types of pollution. It is
very crucial that buildings are made sustainable so
as to reduce the damage caused to the environment. The utilization of resources
by buildings and the impact they generate is illustrated in the diagram below.
Resource flow through typical buildings
50% of all global resources
70% of global timber
Social impacts
50% global energy
[45% to operate
5% to construct]
40% of water used globally
Emissions to air,
water and soil
60% of prime agricultural
land lost to farming is used
for building purposes
Investment & cash
Financial returns
Buildings over their lifetime impact two main issues - environmental and socioeconomic. Within a sustainable building these impacts will be reduced
Environmental impact: Buildings impact the environment during construction,
use and demolition. The major impacts are listed below:
Ozone depletion
Ecological loss
Fuel depletion
Land depletion
Climate change
Water depletion
Acid rain
Socio-economic impact: There are many social and economic issues that are a
by-product of the design of the built environment. Sustainable buildings will
attempt to address these issues during the design stage. Socio-economic impacts
include the following:
1. Indoor air quality
2. Student performance
3. Visual and thermal comfort
4. Ease of operation/maintenance
5. Ecological literacy/building as a teaching tool
Additional socio-economic benefits of a sustainable university design:
1. Higher Test Scores. A recent study of some educational buildings in the USA
indicates a strong correlation between increased daylighting and improved
student performance. For example, students in classrooms with the most
daylighting progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading
tests in one year than those in classrooms with the least amount of daylight.
(See Teacher Support network Website:
2. Increased Average Daily Attendance. Improving indoor air quality by
controlling sources of contaminants, providing adequate ventilation, and
preventing moisture accumulation can reduce the number of sick days for
students and lecturers, especially those suffering from asthma or other
respiratory problems.
3. Reduced Operating Costs. By using less energy and water than standard
buildings, overall operating costs can be reduced. Universities can save 20–
40% on annual utility costs for new buildings and 20–30% for renovated
buildings by applying high performance design concepts. Savings can be used
to supplement other budgets, such as maintenance, computers, books etc.
4. Increased Teacher Satisfaction and Retention. High visual & thermal
comfort, good acoustics, and fresh indoor air become positive factors in
recruiting and retaining teachers and in increasing their overall satisfaction
with work.
A sustainable university building design will follow an integrated design approach.
This is summarised in the diagram below:
Sustainability Design Brief and targets
This Sustainability Design Brief captures this core values and sets out a series of
headline objectives and further detailed development targets that the team is
committed to achieving and by which their performance and success can be
It is recognised that this document is a ‘live’ document and will be adjusted,
changed and improved. The brief will remain as a framework around which the
success of the scheme may be judged.
However, it is important to note that the Brief will not be ‘Dumbed Down’ to suit
any lesser design options but will remain the target document against which the
success of both the design and development teams will be judged by all
stakeholders. It is therefore important that all members of the development and
design teams comment on and then take ownership of this brief.
Global Objectives
The global objectives are aimed at satisfying global responsibilities and the
universities ‘corporate’ business strategies. These are as follows:
To show leadership through a demonstration of an exemplary sustainable
To create a new benchmark in sustainable design.
To enhance the brand of the University globally with respect to their
environmental image.
To meet and significantly improve upon the objectives laid out by the Local
Agenda 21 Strategy
To deliver added value on the key UK government indicators
Environment/Resource Management/Society/Economics.
To achieve exemplary ECO BRANDING for the facility. This to include
achieving equivalent ‘Excellent’ rating on BREEAM and Ecohomes and
NHER assessment.
To deliver value and improvement to all stakeholders.
To deliver a carbon neutral development.
Design Targets: GLOBAL
Government commitment 20% reduction on CO2
emissions by 2010 [Ref: UK Climate Change
Strategy document]
Design Target
Zero CO2
Carbon neutral
Government target for UK power supplied by
renewable energy by 2010 is 10%. [DTI
Renewable Energy Policy Guidance.]
10% utilisation
energy from
sources, with 2%
UK Government, relying on CHP to deliver 20%
of its CO2 savings target. Target of 10 GWe of
new CHP capacity by 2010. [Ref: Draft. UK
Climate Change Strategy, page 61]
60% utilisation
of CHP system
The Government has set two primary targets, to:
 reduce the proportion of controlled waste
going to landfill to 60% by 2005, and
 recover value from 40% of municipal waste
by 2005.
[Ref: Framework for Sustainable Development
on the Government Estate, Part D, 2003-04]
10% of building
mass will be
composed of
materials with
recycled or agro
Over 2002-03, DTI has recorded an impressive
44 % reduction in water use across their estate.
This is largely due to water management
projects, including the installation of waterless
urinals in major buildings. [Ref: Sustainable
Development in Government: Second Annual
Report 2003, Part C: Water]
50% reduction in
potable water
demand relative
to ‘business as
From March 2003, all Government new build
projects should achieve ‘Excellent’ BREEAM
ratings & all refurbishment projects ‘very good’.
[ref: Sustainable Development in Government:
Second Annual Report 2003, Part G:]
BREEAM rating
or equivalent.
gas emissions
Combined heat
and power
Building Objectives
The objectives and targets laid in this section are more specific to the actual
building design. They include specific benchmarking targets and encompass
further objectives that are covered in BREEAM, CIBSE and the BCO Brief.
To provide a high quality, safe, comfortable and stimulating environment
for all occupants: staff, students, faculty and visitors to enjoy.
To use BRE Best Practice guidance as a minimum standard to be exceeded
where added value environmental, social and economic can be
To dramatically improve the ecological/landscape value of the site and
provides an integrated ecology/water/open space/landscape plan.
To reduce the need for transport during demolition, refurbishment and
construction and tightly control all processes to reduce noise, dust,
vibration, pollution and waste.
To make the most of the site, e.g. by studying its history and purpose,
local microclimate and the prevailing winds and weather patterns, solar
orientation, transport and the form of surrounding buildings.
To design the building to minimise the cost of ownership and its impact on
the environment over its life span by making it easily maintainable and to
incorporating techniques and technologies for conserving energy and
water and reducing emissions to land, water and air.
To put the function of the building and the comfort of its occupants well
before any statement it is intended to make about the owner or its
designer. That is, make it secure, flexible and adaptable (to meet future
requirements) and able to facilitate and promote communications between
To build to the appropriate quality and to last. Longevity depends much on
form, finishes and the method of assembly employed as on the material
To avoid using materials from non renewable sources or which cannot be
reused or recycled, especially in structures which have a short life.
To use less energy and find more environmentally friendly forms of
To limit the amount of water use and increase the use of environmentally
friendly water supply and drainage systems.
To reduce the amount of raw materials used for construction, and consider
appropriate means of extraction for materials that are plentiful.
To provide high accessibility throughout the area, with good public
transport and provision for walkers and cyclists.
To provide measures to improve indoor air quality.
To provide adequate daylight in most spaces.
To design to reduce the opportunity for crime.
To design to reduce noise nuisance and provide some quiet spaces.
Design Targets: ENERGY
Strategic proposals
Reduce energy
demand by
bioclimatic design of
Reduce building
energy demand by
incorporating energy
efficient lighting,
heating, cooling and
ventilation systems
Optimise building orientation such that east and west
exposure is minimised.
Ensure that external shading devices are incorporated in the
building facade to limit the internal heat gain resulting from
solar radiation. Horizontal sunshades attached above
windows on south facing walls. Vertical louvers also are
effective for east and west facing windows.
Maximize use of solar passive heating from the south façade.
Ensure that adequate thermal mass has been provided to
minimise over heating.
Maximise daylighting by ensure that 80% of the building has
a daylight factor exceeding 2.5% and photo electric dimmers
are specified.
Consider techniques such as cross, stack ventilation and
down draught ventilation to Maximise use of natural
Consider mixed mode ventilation, where mechanical
ventilation is required.
Use compact building forms to minimise heat loss.
Improve levels of air tightness.
Use advanced façade design, such as low emissive glass to
control heat gain and modulate daylight levels.
Aim to provide 20% better thermal performance than the
present building regulations (L2/3).
1. General:
An assessment should be made of likely internal gains from
equipment, people and lighting. Where these do not exceed
35-40W/m2 a naturally ventilated or mixed mode approach
may be possible.
Check metering should be provided for all potentially
separate tenant areas*.
Lighting and heating controls should be designed to serve no
more than 4 workstations or an area of 28m2*.
The BEMS system should be capable of monitoring the
refrigeration system COP electronically in order to monitor
operating efficiency.
50% reduction in energy
demand relative to
‘business as usual’. See
Appendix 1: Energy
Same as above.
2. Lighting
Ensure luminance levels between 350 – 400 lux*.
Do not exceed lighting power density of 10W/m2 in teaching
For other building types power densities should be set at less
than the mid range of table 2.2 of the CIBSE Guide on
Interior Lighting 5.
Category 2 luminaires fitted with interchangeable diffusers
and high frequency ballasts should be provided for general
Specify lighting with an initial efficacy averaged over whole
building of at least 60 lumens per circuit Watt.
Ban tungsten and halogen lighting.
Maximise use of T5 [slimline] luminaries.
Use lighting controls such as PIR, and time based for areas
with intermittent usage.
3. Heating/cooling
For new buildings with a total useful floor area over 1000m2,
Member States shall ensure that the technical, environmental
and economic feasibility of alternative systems such as:
— Decentralised energy supply systems based on
Renewable energy;
— CHP;
— District or block heating and cooling;
— Heat pumps, [EU EP directive, Article 5& 6,
Temperature set points should be selected in order to
minimise energy use, while providing acceptable thermal
comfort. 19oC in winter and 24oC in summer.
A minimum temperature dead band of 4OC should be
Use weather compensation of flow temperature.
Consider condensing boilers and under floor heat for relevant
Ban electric space heating.
Zoning of air-conditioning should take into account individual
lettable areas and segregate the perimeter and internal
zones. At the perimeter one control device should be
provided for not more than 6m of perimeter space assuming
a depth of 4.5m*.
The Specific Fan Power (SFP) of the air conditioning system
should not exceed 2 Watts per litre per second. Higher levels
may need to be set for buildings using heat recovery or
where particularly fine filtration is required.
Humidification should be avoided.
Space heating should utilise a gas condensing boiler, for at
least the lead boiler in a multiple boiler installation.
The air conditioning system should be designed to utilise free
cooling with enthalpy control.
4. Hot water
Consider condensing direct gas – fired storage water heaters.
Consider solar collectors to meets at 60% of the annual hot
water energy demand.
Promote the use of
renewable sources of
5. Incorporate building integrated renewables:
About 60% of annual water heating demand can be met by
solar collectors.
Wind turbines can be mounted on the roof of the building.
Typically, Photovoltaic cells covering 50% of the wall-faces
and roof can generate 20% of the energy used by the
Net 10% of electrical
demand met by building
integrated renewables
* BREEAM issues
Design Targets: WATER
Strategic proposals
Reduce water
Use water efficient fixtures and fittings, including;
Manage and use
Recycle water
Specifying WC’s that have a dual flushing
capacity of 6/4 litres or less*.
Specifying showers that have a maximum
flow rate of 6 litres per minute or less*.
Specifying ‘low volume’ baths, whose shape
encourages lower water use.
Specifying Low flow aerated taps or PIR
sensors for control of taps.
Specifying waterless urinals or urinal with PIR
Reducing the maximum level of water
consumption in the building to 11m3 per
person per year.
Specifying a water leak detection system to
areas / plant vulnerable to leakage*.
50% reduction in potable
water demand relative to
‘business as usual’ i.e., 45
Reducing quantity of storm water runoff from
the site or improve the quality of site runoff
before it discharges to storm sewers that
deliver runoff to area lakes and rivers and
before it percolates into groundwater.
Use on-site water infiltration or retention as a
means of improving the quality of surface
water runoff.
Design new storm water systems to prevent
discharge of unmanaged storm water into
jurisdictional wetlands, sole-source aquifers,
trout streams or other sensitive areas.
Collect and use rainwater for the building.
Reduce 50% of the run off to
natural watercourses
Consider the use of ‘grey’ water recycling for
toilet flushing.
Recycle 50% of the grey
* BREEAM issues
Design Targets: CARBON
Strategic proposals
Carbon neutral
Reduce building energy consumption by 50%
Meet 10% of the electrical demand using
building mounted renewables.
Provide facilities for cyclists and electric cars.
Net zero CO2 emissions from
built development in
[see section on ‘energy’]
Meet the remainder of the energy demand using a
combination of:
On-site cogeneration (combined, heating,
cooling and power) e.g. Combined cycle gas
turbines, LCV turbines & Fuel cells.
Off-site renewables such as wind power [i.e.,
buy electricity from renewable energy
Carbon sequestration – achieve 30% canopy cover
across the site as a minimum.
Engage in carbon trading.
Design Targets: MATERIALS & WASTE
Strategic proposals
Minimise the life-cycle
impact of materials on
the environment.
Life cycle environmental impacts: Embodied energy
contributes to between 10 –15% of the total energy
consumption over the building life.
Special attention should be given to building
elements such as Floor coverings, Structural slab,
external façade and Roof structure as typically they
embody the highest component of energy. Select
low impact materials by using BRE’s Envest
Salvaged building materials: For example: salvaged
stone and bricks. Use websites such as and to find materials and to sell
demolished materials.
Use recycled materials: Preference for postconsumer content rather than post-industrial
because post-consumer recycled materials are more
likely to be diverted from landfills. Examples:
Cellulose insulation, Floor tile made from ground
glass; Iron-ore slag used to make mineral wool
insulation, Fly ash used to make concrete.
Ozone-depleting materials: CFCs have been phased
out, but their primary replacements-HCFCs- also
damage the ozone layer and should be avoided
where possible. Avoid foam insulation and
compression-cycle HVAC equipment, these
generally contain HCFCs. Examples generic
insulation products have never involved ozone
depleting materials are Mineral Fibre/Mineral Wool,
Glass Fibre/Glass Wool, Cellular Glass, Expanded
Polystyrene (bead polystyrene), Expanded Nitrile
Rubber, Recycled Cellulose*.
Responsible wood suppliers: The timber for key
elements including structural timber, cladding, and
internal joinery will come from sustainably
managed sources. Certification schemes such as
Forest Stewardship Council [FSC], Forest Council
[FC], and WoodmarkTM will be used to demonstrate
Embodied environmental
impacts to be limited to 4
ecopoints/m2 [See Appendix
2: Ecopoints]
* EU Council Regulation 2037/2000): On substances
that Deplete the Ozone Layer 4
Minimise the impact of
materials on indoor
environmental quality.
Non-toxic finishes: Select materials that have
minimal chemical emissions and emit low or no
volatile organic compounds [VOC] will be specified.
Particular attention should be give to: adhesives,
carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood
products, paints, thinners and cleaning agents.
Ensure that fibreboards are formaldehyde free.
All Paints, stains, varnishes and fillers to be used
are with low VOC emissions and do not contain any
lead or mercury.
Avoid nylon carpets
Zero VOC from Internal
Target the elimination
of waste during
construction and
The design team should develop a waste minimisation
strategy that includes the following*:
Zero waste to landfill
Using BRE’s SMARTWASTE tool to monitor waste
on site.
Work with contractors and operatives to establish
a no waste culture and to assess ways of
increasing productivity and reducing on site waste.
Establish an on-site waste collection, sorting and
recycling depot to ensure maximum on site re-use.
(2m2 per 1000m2 of floor area, up to 10m2 max).
Quantify packaging materials and assess the
potential for reduction of packaging.
* Also see: Waste minimisation and recycling in
construction – Design Manual: CIRIA 1998
Strategic proposals
Enhance the
ecological of site
Enhance places and
buildings through
design that responds
to microclimatic
factors: wind;
Build over footprint of existing buildings and hard
surfaced areas to reduce the burden on
previously undeveloped sites.
Ensure that no trees, hedges and water bodies
are not removed or damaged.
Enhance the site through measures including,
Reducing the buildings footprint;
Demarcating areas with native
species of trees and shrubs;
Garden planting that uses native
species and those that have a
known attraction or benefit to local
Vegetating the roof area;
Introducing an undistributed water
body on site to encourage wildlife.
30% improvement in
ecological value of the
existing site
Optimise building orientation to maximize the
opportunity for passive HVAC systems.
Optimise building orientation to maximize the
opportunity for building integrated renewables:
photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind turbines.
50% reduction in building
energy demand
See section on ‘Energy’
Net 20% of electrical
demand met by building
integrated renewables
Use building form, layout and massing to
moderate the impact of the prevailing winds on
pedestrian level comfort and safety.
Use landscape to provide wind shelter locally to
external amenity spaces.
Minimum annual comfort
rating: C2 to C3.
(C2 is comfortable for
strolling; C3 is comfortable
for sitting or standing for
short periods)
Site layout and planning to permit good solar
access into external amenity spaces.
Use landscape to provide shade locally to
external amenity spaces.
Minimise overshadowing –
no more than two-fifths,
and preferably no more
than a quarter, of any
external amenity area
should be prevented by
buildings from receiving
sunlight at all on 21 March
Design Targets: POLLUTION
Strategic proposals
Reduce the
pollution to air,
water and land
and minimize the
impact of noise
Use of low emissions technologies for on-site
generation of power [see topic ‘Carbon’].
Use of pollution tolerant tree species with large
surface area canopy to help remove air-borne
Attempt to use alternatively fuelled vehicles for all
motorized transport associated with the
No CFCs or HCFCs should be used in the building
and in particular for foam plastic insulation
Where required air conditioning systems should be
designed to run on a refrigerant with an ozone
depletion potential (ODP) of zero*.
The use of hydrocarbon refrigerants with Global
Warming Potentials (GWP) of less than 5 should be
explored. Lithium bromide or ammonia absorption
chillers should be considered where there is a source
of waste heat for example from a Combined Heat
and Power plant.
A refrigerant leak detection system should be
specified for the air conditioning system irrespective
of where the chiller is located and the refrigerant
type used*.
The refrigeration system should be equipped with
integral pump down containers or a method of
isolating and storing the full refrigerant charge in
order to service the chillers without loss of
Specify low NOx Boilers should be selected to have
Net zero CO2 emissions from built
development in operation
Zero ODP in the building
NOx emissions to be restricted to
Design Targets: HEALTH & WELLNESS
Strategic proposals
Ensure that openable windows are
If using mechanical ventilation, it should
provide outside air at the minimum
ventilation rates recommended by CIBSE*.
8 litres per second per person
Ensure that most spaces are adequately
80% of the useable space to
have 2.5% daylight factor
Ensure internal noise levels are maintained
at a level*.
Ensure that predicted
ambient noise levels between
35-50 dB LAeqT in teaching
The design should provide for a variety of
social behaviours, including informal
meeting areas, small group spaces with
appropriate tools and technologies, and
spaces for eating and relaxing.
Ensure that the design of social spaces fit
the actual needs of the occupants and have
they been involved in decisions.
Windows should have at least a partial view
of the natural landscape. Ensure that
plantings are used in interior spaces.
Ensure that outdoor spaces provided for
social interactions and relaxation.
Thermal comfort
The thermal comfort levels meets the ISO
7730 standard.
Glare control
Occupants should have control of internal
or external blinds which are fitted to
prevent glare.
The Predicted Percentage
Dissatisfied (PPD) should be
less than 10%
All window openings should
be protected against glare
Appendix 1: Energy Consumption Benchmarks
Good Practice
Fossil Fuels
(KWh/m2/year) (KWh/m2/year)
(Not experimental or
Student’s Union
Fast food
Bar /
Halls of
/ Flats
Teaching Spaces
Residential Area
(Teaching &
Fossil Fuels
(KWh/m2/year) (KWh/m2/year)
= No data available
N.B. Floor area bases are gross.
REF. BRE (2002)
Appendix 2: Ecopoints: a single score
environmental assessment
The environmental impacts of construction encompass a wide range of issues,
including climate change, mineral extraction, ozone depletion and waste
Assessing such different issues in combination requires subjective judgements
about their relative importance. For example, is a product with a high global
warming impact that does not pollute water resources giving less overall
environmental impact than a product that has a low global warming impact but
produces significant water pollution?
To enable such assessments, BRE has developed Ecopoints.
Normalised Environmental Impacts
Each environmental issue is measured using its own unit, for example BRE
measure mineral extraction using tonnes of mineral extracted and climate change
in mass of Carbon Dioxide equivalent. Using these "characterised" impacts, it is
hard to make any useful comparisons. However, by comparing each
environmental impact to a "norm", each impact can be measured on the same
scale. BRE have taken as their norm the impacts of a typical UK citizen,
calculated by dividing the impacts of the UK by its population.
Making assessments based on "normalised" data means giving all the measured
issues the same importance. BRE have therefore undertaken an extensive study
to identify weightings for a range of sustainability issues.
Expert panels from across the industry’s stakeholder groups were used to judge
the importance of many sustainability issues, covering environmental, social and
economic issues. The results showed a surprising degree of consensus about the
relative importance of different environmental issues across a broad range of
interest groups. Currently, only data for environmental issues can be measured
and gathered on a UK basis. The resulting weightings for the environmental
issues measured by BRE have been used to weight the normalised environmental
impacts to provide the Ecopoints score.
UK Ecopoints
A UK Ecopoint score is a measure of the overall environmental impact of a
particular product or process covering the following environmental impacts:
• Climate change
• Fossil fuel depletion
• Ozone depletion
• Freight transport
• Human toxicity to air
• Human toxicity to water
• Waste disposal
• Water extraction
• Acid deposition
• Ecotoxicity
• Eutrophication
• Summer smog
• Minerals extraction
UK Ecopoints are derived by adding together the score for each issue, calculated
by multiplying the normalised impact with its percentage weighting. The annual
environmental impact caused by a typical UK citizen therefore creates 100
Ecopoints. More Ecopoints indicate higher environmental impact.