The GSK - Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry, Nottingham | Great Britain


Project CO2-neutral Laboratory for
Sustainable Chemistry
Place Nottingham, Great Britain
Year of construction 2015

Client University of Nottingham
Architecture FDG – The Fairhursts Design Group
Execution B&K Structures in partnership
with binderholz
General contractor Morgan Sindall Group
Green facts Wood = CO2 store | Wood =
sustainable | Wood = environmentally recyclable |
Wood = solar energy store
Use of BBS 1,420 m³ wall, ceiling and roof elements

Morgan Sindall built "The GSK" building at the University of Nottingham and thus the first CO2-neutral laboratory for sustainable chemistry in Great Britain. It is the first higher education project to be awarded the highest award bestowed by BREEAM, the British Sustainability Certificate, and the LEED Environmental Certificate.

The building blends into its environment
Occupied area characterised by CLT BBS and BSH elements
State-of-the-art laboratory with visible wooden surfaces

The Concept

The building houses the University of Nottingham’s “Centre for Sustainable Chemistry”, which acts as an interface for new cooperative partnerships with industry. The Centre is unique in Great Britain – not just in terms of its design, but also with regard to its focus on globally leading research activities in sustainable chemistry.
The research activities focus on the most stringent “clean and green” standards to minimise the impact on the environment and ensure that new developments in chemistry are both energy-efficient, resource-efficient and sustainable.
The new carbon-neutral laboratory building is located in the award-winning University of Nottingham Innovation Park and provides unique opportunities for research in chemistry. The focus on sustainability is even reflected in the building itself, which will remain CO2-neutral throughout its entire lifetime, thanks to the integration of the latest technologies.

3D rendering of the building showing the CLT BBS and BSH elements

The Implementation

The building was developed by The Fairhursts Design Group architects and has a useful area of 4,500 m² spread over two floors.
It includes renewable technologies and integrated photovoltaic modules in the roof structure to generate an estimated 200,000 kWh or more per year and potentially offset over 100 tonnes of carbon each year.
Natural materials were used to build the laboratory to further enhance its sustainability. A total of 1,420 m³ CLT BBS was used for the building. The material was used for both the wall and the roof and ceiling elements. As the building represents the epitome of sustainability and naturalness, it is more than fitting that The GSK was built entirely in wood. The use of solid wood on the building is both resource-conserving and environmentally-friendly. The spaces exude a quite unique feeling of comfort because of the warm look of the visible quality wood. The outstanding properties of the wood as a store of heat and moisture guarantee a balanced interior climate, which, in turn, also has a positive impact on people’s health.

The energy needed for operation is provided by renewable sources, such as solar energy and sustainable biomass. Excess energy generated by the building will provide sufficient CO2 credit over 25 years to recover the carbon released during its construction from the atmosphere.
A rigorous system has been implemented to capture and monitor the CO2 data, showing the building’s CO2 footprint, both during the construction phase and also during operation of the building. The maximum CO2 emission target, including the carbon involved in the construction materials, the construction process and the supply of materials to site, was set at 800 tonnes of carbon. The target for energy consumption during its use is an annual CO2 emission credit of 51.5 tonnes. At the end of this period, the building will therefore have achieved complete CO2-neutral status.


“This building will be at the forefront of the next generation of highly sustainable research laboratories for research into wet chemistry. We commissioned the best expert knowledge from the project management and design team and are delighted with the appointment of Morgan Sindall as contractual partner. This enables us to continue with the construction and delivery of this project,” reports Chris Jagger, Chief Estates and Facilities Officer, University of Nottingham

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