GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry

GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry

The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry was designed as an exemplar of sustainability in design, construction and choice of materials, and one which would be carbon neutral over its 25 year lifetime.

The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry was designed as an exemplar of sustainability in design, construction and choice of materials, and one which would be carbon neutral over its 25 year lifetime.

It has achieved these aims since completion, gaining the highest levels of sustainable building certification – BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum awards. To achieve such high sustainability credentials – a 70 per cent reduction in embodied carbon compared to conventional buildings – the architect, Fairhursts Design Group, has used timber throughout, for structure, walls, floors and cladding. As a building type the laboratory is also innovative, aiming to be a catalyst for new industry collaborations and to focus on the highest ‘clean and green’ standards to minimise environmental impact and ensure that new chemistry developments will be energy resource-efficient and sustainable. It will also act as a regional hub for chemistry education, giving local schools and colleges access to working laboratories and technical support.

The laboratory stands prominently in Nottingham University’s new innovation park and its sustainability aesthetic is immediately clear; four timber-clad ventilation towers stand along the ridge of the pitched roof, which is lined with photovoltaic panels on the south side and with a green roof system on the north side. The green roof extends as a continuous slope on each side of the main entrance, creating a sheltered courtyard. The main entrance leads through a circulation space which opens into the ‘winter garden’. This light-filled, double-height space, running the length of the south façade, is the social and circulation hub of the laboratory. An elegant timber staircase rises to an open mezzanine balcony which gives access to the first floor laboratories. The glulam and CLT structures to the mezzanine and south wall are exposed, creating a warm, non-clinical ambiance, with seating and tables below the mezzanine where colleagues and visitors can sit and talk. There are five teaching and research laboratories on the first floor, write-up space for about 100 researchers, together with dedicated instrument rooms, a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) suite, a teaching laboratory for advanced undergraduate classes, and space for a range of outreach activities for schools.

Unlike a traditional ‘territorial’ chemistry laboratory, the spaces are designed to be used as a research ‘hotel’, with sharing of facilities such as fume cupboards. The laboratory environment has been opened up, with clear views to aid collaboration and with the timber structure and services exposed to view.

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