NEWS: NIAB visitor centre short-listed for green award

24 Jan 2014

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany’s new visitor centre in Cambridge has been short-listed for an international ‘green’ construction award.

With a roof covered by living plants and photo-voltaic cells, rainwater harvesting, automatic ventilation, biomass boiler and a zero carbon construction, the Sophi Taylor Building has some of the most outstanding green building credentials in the UK.

NIAB's Sophi Taylor Building

It was designed to meet the needs of users with minimal electrical and mechanical interference, making the most of the energy available to it from the sun and the users themselves, harvesting rainwater and conserving these resources for release when required.

It is one of only five construction projects short-listed for a BREEAM 2014 award in the ‘offices’ category, in recognition of the building’s environmental credentials in construction and management.

“We’re absolutely delighted that the Sophi Taylor Building has made the final list for the BREEAM awards,” says NIAB’s project manager David Neill.

“Developed by the Building Research Establishment the BRE Energy Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) is the world’s leading building environmental assessment method. The primary objective for the building project was to achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ category - the standards required were high and had to encompass all aspects of the project; from the earliest design stage right through to building operation. But then to be nominated for an award is a fantastic achievement for the entire project team,” says Mr Neill.

Opened in April 2013 the Sophi Taylor Building is the main venue for NIAB Innovation Farm, a pioneering knowledge transfer initiative established by NIAB to support the translation of plant science discoveries into practical application by linking the science base and industry. It also provides business assistance for SMEs in the eastern region.

Funding for the construction of the stunning new £1.5 million building, designed by architects RH Partnership and built by SDC Construction, came from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the NIAB Trust. The building is used for exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops, catering for up to 100 people. It includes meeting and office spaces and a show-garden that doubles as a meeting area as well as a display area for new plant varieties and species, and is next to NIAB’s research glasshouse complex and field crop demonstration site near Histon.

The final building winner will be announced at the BREEAM awards ceremony at the Ecobuild show on Tuesday 4th March at London ExCel. The other short-listed buildings in the ‘offices’ category include One Embankment Place in London, 1 Angel Square in Manchester, Zenora-Noda in Paris, and Quadrant 2 in London.