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Sustainable Project of the Year: Winner

Winner: Morgan Sindall: The GlaxoSmithKline Centre for Sustainable Chemistry, Nottingham

Standing out in a category as diverse and wide-ranging as Sustainable Project of the Year is no easy feat, with finalists as distinct as building refurbishments and major civil engineering schemes.

But the judges were full of praise for the ambitions and execution on show in the GlaxoSmithKline Centre for Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Nottingham.

Morgan Sindall’s winning entry is the world’s first naturally ventilated laboratory, and particularly impressed the judges by securing both BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum ratings – a rare achievement.

The judges were blown away by this innovative building, which has a distinctive shape that will make it an iconic feature of the University of Nottingham’s estate.

In particular, the client on this project showed a desire to lead on sustainability from the very beginning, challenging the contractor to come up with something out of the ordinary.

The Centre for Sustainable Chemistry is the world’s first chemistry lab to make no overall contribution to greenhouse gases or the acceleration of climate change, designed and built to achieve carbon-neutral status after 25 years.

The timber-framed lab is built from natural materials and will be powered by sustainable biomass and solar power.

Saving carbon was clearly an imperative for the construction team, ably demonstrated by changes to the project’s foundations design.

Here, Morgan Sindall changed from CFA piles to a vibro-stone method, reducing embodied carbon from 90 tonnes to just 6 tonnes. The contractor selected local and reclaimed materials, and made use of alternative construction techniques such as offsite modular construction and renewable technologies, leaving the University of Nottingham a strong legacy that allowed it to build on its own sustainability goals.

“Morgan Sindall’s carbon agenda has driven an intelligent approach to use of resources and energy efficiency; this is a highly sustainable, iconic and innovative building”

Judges’ comment

The building’s distinctive shape also added to its green credentials, with its sloping roof design – reminiscent of an airplane wing – structured so that air accelerates across its span, drawing on the inclined surface to generate greater ventilation, which is then distributed evenly into the building.

All of this was achieved despite a major fire halfway through the construction programme, which united the team in its determination to deliver an exemplar project.

The judges were unanimous that this project was their winner, with a distinctive design backed up by cutting-edge science and exceptional ambition.

H+H logo 1

H+H logo 1

Sponsored by: H+H

H+H UK is the largest manufacturer of aircrete products in Britain, including the market- leading range of Celcon Blocks. Aircrete builds projects from homes to multi-storey dwellings, schools, offices and industrial premises. Its lightweight design and ease of use makes it an ideal medium.

Operating nationwide, H+H is privileged to work with many of the largest builders in the country. H+H aircrete is manufactured largely from recycled materials and is highly sustainable, with embodied CO2 lower than most other building materials. H+H is proud of its green credentials and achieves the highest A ratings in the BRE Green Guide.



  • F B Ellmer: 69 Carter Lane, London
  • Grangewood Builder: 119 Ebury Street, London
  • Saint-Gobain UK & Ireland: Bartholomew Barn at The King’s School, Worcester
  • Simons Group: GSK Zero Carbon Archive Building, Hertfordshire
  • Sir Robert McAlpine: City of Glasgow College, City Campus
  • Skanska: Beer Wall phase three, Somerset
  • University College of Estate Management: Horizons – Achieving Excellence in a Sustainable Building Refurbishment, Reading
  • WRW Construction: Aberystwyth Fire Station

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