Members of the University of Exeter, Tremough Campus Services Group and the Leadbitter Group celebrate the topping out of the Environment and Sustainability Institute. Image © Big Picture.

Environment and Sustainability Institute reaches construction milestone

The Leadbitter Group and the University of Exeter have celebrated reaching the highest point in the construction of the University’s £30 million Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) with a traditional topping out ceremony.

David Collett, Area Manager, Devon and Cornwall, for Leadbitter’s Western Construction division, welcomed representatives from the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth, which share and jointly manage the Tremough Campus, and local government officials to the event, and marked the occasion by hoisting a yew tree to the highest point of the building.

The ESI is an interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into solutions to problems of environmental change; in so doing, it is enhancing lives by improving people’s relationships with the environment. The ESI has three research themes: clean technologies, natural environment, and social science and sustainability. It will engage with hundreds of businesses in Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond to translate its research and expertise across these themes into innovative business practice, products, and services.

Mr Collett said: “This ceremony marks an important milestone in the construction of this significant new facility. Not only will the research conducted here be cutting-edge, but so will the building’s sustainability credentials.”

The ESI building will have a BREEAM Outstanding rating, the highest classification available under the BRE Environmental Assessment Method, which is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. There are currently only seven complete buildings with BREEAM Outstanding classification in the UK and none in the South West. Worldwide, fewer than 20 buildings have achieved the Outstanding classification.

Professor Kevin Gaston, Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute, said: “The Environment and Sustainability Institute is a fantastic resource for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and one of which we should all be proud. It demonstrates the University of Exeter’s commitment, not only to the region, but to conducting cutting-edge research into environmental change that will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

“This exceptional building is truly world-class and has provided us with an opportunity to work as part of an innovative collaboration,” added Niamh Lamond, CEO of the Tremough Campus Services Group, the partnership between the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth that delivers buildings, facilities and services on their behalf in Cornwall. “Through our expertise in procurement, sustainable design and project management, we are delighted to have contributed to the delivery of this BREEAM Outstanding building.”

Mark Yeoman, Deputy Chair of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, also attended the ceremony. He said: “The green technology response to global climate change and the ever present need for greater resource efficiency are key to our economic recovery. The ERDF Convergence investment in the Environment and Sustainability Institute will help secure our successful economic future.”

The ESI is due to open in Autumn 2012 and is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£22.9M) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6M), as well as receiving significant support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Date: 11 May 2012