Oxford Brookes achieves BREEAM Excellent

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

buildign achieves breeam

Oxford Brookes' new buildings achieve BREEAM excellent


The new library and teaching building as well as being a beautiful building to look at and enhancing our students’ experience has a number of key environmental features that have helped it achieve its BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard.

What is BREEAM? 

BREEAM is the world’s leading design and assessment for sustainable buildings and stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. It recognises buildings that go beyond standard regulations and benchmarks against a series of sustainable and energy saving criteria. The key objective of BREEAM is to use a straightforward scoring system that enables designers, constructors and building managers to highlight how their buildings maximise positive environmental factors. 

How the building will achieve BREEAM 

So for Oxford Brookes’ new building to have achieved BREEAM ‘excellent’ many of the key features have been built into the initial designs of the building. Design Engine, the architects behind Oxford Brookes University’s new library and teaching building, highlight a number of features that have been integrated into the design.
  • There will be good levels of natural light to minimise the impact of adverse solar gains
  • Natural cross ventilation will be used in both the facade and roof
  • Thermal flues to drive stack ventilation will be used where cross ventilation is not possible
  • Structural solutions that will provide thermal mass will be used to aid passive cooling
  • Soffit structures will be used instead of suspended ceilings - this will maximise the stratification within a room or space

Passive by design 

The building has a passive design philosophy and will aim to maximise the use of daylight, minimise increases in temperature through excessive sun light in the summer and reduce the temperature through storing heat in the winter. 
This all sounds pretty complicated; effectively the building’s passive design means the following points have been integrated into the design to manage the climate of the building.
  • Exposed thermal mass (concrete) will help control the temperature by storing the desired temperature – cool in the summer and warm in the winter
  • To keep the building cool in the summer the ventilation system will open the windows to reduce the temperature of the thermal mass during the night when the building is not being used
  • Where possible the building will be cross ventilated to encourage good airflow
  • In places where cross ventilation is not possible, solar chimneys will be used to pull air up through the building


The Main Lecture Theatre’s chimney

One such example of a chimney being used will be the 300 seat main lecture theatre. Incorporating a Labyrinth air flow system that will lie below the piazza, warm or cool air (dependent on the season) will be sucked up through vents on the side of the piazza. The air will then travel through a series of tunnels before making its way up to the spectacular lecture theatre. In the summer the solar chimney will be open, as heat is created in the chimney this heat will rise and help pull the warm used air out of the lecture theatre. In the winter, the chimney will be closed and used warm air will be diverted back into the ventilation system where its heat will be used.




 Air transition summer



 Air transition winter

Other temperature controls

Evidently a building of this size will need more help than just Mother Nature and some clever thermal mass and ventilation solutions. The building will also have a Building Energy Management System (BEMS). This system will effectively control the mechanical heating and coolers. It will constantly evaluate the temperature and ventilation requirements and adjust the climate controls accordingly. It will allow facilities management to track how energy is being used. In turn, it will be able to highlight periods of efficiency to benchmark against and also periods of inefficiency which could highlight a fault in the system.

Rain water harvesting and a green roof 

There are many positives to having a green roof. The plants absorb air pollution and will help by offsetting carbon dioxide consumption and reducing the buildings carbon footprint. The sedum roof will provide a new habitat for avian wildlife. Plus the roof will help to manage heat and will attenuate the water running off the roof. 
The rain water will then be harvested from the roofs and be used to supply water to the flushes of the new library and teaching building. With the average flush using over 4 litres of water there will be a substantial saving in the amount of mains water consumed by the new building. 
To keep in touch with the progression of the building or if you have a particular aspect of the building you want more information about send us an email at spacetothink@brookes.ac.uk