The Bright Building: a shining light of sustainability

  • 22 Aug 2016

The University of Bradford Business Centre is a bright light of sustainablity with best in class BREEAM performance. Public Sector Building Magazine finds out more…

The Bright Building, a mixed use project created to enable Bradford University to support and interact with local businesses, has been acknowledged as a true sustainability exemplar having the highest BREEAM Outstanding rating ever seen in the education sector.

The awarding of BREEAM Outstanding final certification to the University of Bradford Bright Building confirms it to be a sustainability exemplar and an embodiment of the business research centre’s forward thinking ethos. This is a commonly expressed goal in the industry, however, the project’s 95.2% BREEAM score makes it the highest ranking building in the education sector and among the most sustainable buildings of its kind yet created.


The £6m building was purpose-built to create the front door for the University of Bradford. Located in a prominent location on the City Campus it provides a link between the university and the business community, which is encouraged to use its flexible and collaborative office space. 

As client, the University of Bradford set the goal of delivering a landmark, world-class building. It wanted the building to be a focal point on campus to underpin the University’s Ecoversity programme which embeds sustainability into every aspect of its operations.

The building was designed by architect, Farrell and Clark, to incorporate highly sustainable building materials and techniques which place this building at the cutting-edge of innovation within the construction sector. 

This ultra-efficient passive design delivers extremely low, in-use energy. Its performance is approximately 85% better than CIBSE TM46 good practice energy benchmarks, with total energy consumption at just 30kWh/m2 per annum. Its excellent energy efficiency is reflected in the fact that only 50% of energy costs are attributable to heating.

In the construction of the building, careful attention was paid to the specification of materials, with 90% of all key building materials and 95% of all hardstanding and boundary materials achieving an A or A+ BRE Green Guide Rating.

The building’s timber framed structure features Hemcrete external walling. A hemp and lime wall system, which locks in 110kg of CO2 per m2 of wall. A total of 350m2 of Hemcrete was used, making the Bright Building the world’s largest monolithic Hemcrete building, which absorbed over 50 tonnes of CO2 in the curing process.

The upper floors were created in Lytag concrete, a waste byproduct that combines pulverised fuel ash from coal-fired power stations with void formers to reduce the concrete’s weight and volume. 

Additionally, 30% of all aggregates used on the project were recycled and sourced within 30km of the site. The building has no mains gas or mains electricity, although it is connected to the university’s self-generated private electricity network for back-up purposes.

Instead, it features passive solar design, including south-facing trombe walls which exploit heat gain in winter via a glazed external face which heats an internal thermal mass layer separated by an air gap. In addition, solar chimneys have been included to provide natural ventilation, heating and lighting. 

Active sustainable technologies include solar photovoltaic panels linked in a balanced manner to an air source heat pump. The non-standard aspects of the design saw the scheme secure four credits in the Innovation section of BREEAM representing exemplary performance.

The BREEAM process itself provided a framework to co-ordinate the project team around meeting a variety of sustainability goals.

Andy Hague, project manager at the University of Bradford, commented: “The project is a true testament to the way BREEAM can drive forward the sustainability aspirations of a large organisation. BREEAM provided a key measure against the estates team’s determination to achieve a high rating and was an essential tool for the project’s highly committed delivery team by breaking each goal into smaller and more manageable targets.”

The Bright Building has been recognised in various awards, including picking up the Best Sustainable Project in the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards 2013 and Highly Commended in the Green Gown Awards 2015.

As well as being an inherently sustainable building in its construction and performance, the Bright Building is used as a resource by sustainable companies. This helped the project achieve its class-leading BREEAM score by showing how sustainability can be economically regenerative and productive. 

The project has embraced every aspect of BREEAM and, as a result has harnessed all of the method’s benefits in reaching its goals.

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