GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory

As the first carbon neutral laboratory in the UK and one of the first laboratories to be designed to BREEAM Outstanding standards – the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Carbon Neutral Laboratory of Sustainable Chemistry is a pioneering project. 100% of the timber used in its construction was PEFC-certified.Gsknotts2 Medium

Built on the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus, the building, designed by architects The Fairhursts Design Group, was constructed in partnership with the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Impact: The Nottingham Campaign which received a £12 million grant from GSK as part of their ‘green chemistry’ commitment. Main contractor Morgan Sindall, appointed B & K Structures to design, manufacture and install an engineered timber structure for the project. 

Composed of a braced glulam frame with PEFC-certified cross laminated timber (CLT) panels forming the floors, walls and roof, the 22m tall hybrid structure towers over the universities 65 acre campus. The ground floor structure is open plan and fitted out with lightweight partitions, whilst the main first floor structural walls consist of CLT which is left exposed in many areas. The CLT structure together with glulam columns of 500mm x 500m, weighing up to 1.5 tonnes and 960mm deep glulam beams with maximum spans of 10m – trap almost 1,600 tonnes of carbon extracted from the atmosphere through the process of sequestration and tree growth.

Four large prefabricated glulam and CLT ‘horns’ were erected on the roof of the structure to provide natural ventilation to the building. The horns sit at a 45 degree angle to the vertical and cantilever outside the base, rising almost 10m above the main roof. Weighing approximately 11 tonnes each, the horns were assembled at ground level with M&E already installed before being lifted into place, thus reducing working at height. Each of the four horns consisted of a top and bottom frame, which were erected separately and had to be designed to allow for both horizontal and vertical lifting.

To achieve the buildings challenging sustainability requirements, the amount of steel in the building was reduced by the use of traditional timber-to-timber connections. These connections used dowelled fixings with oak plugs to provide both an aesthetically pleasing finish and protection to the steel dowels in the event of a fire.

The building has achieved BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum ratings. These ratings are the highest grades obtainable from these building assessment schemes. The laboratory was designed to minimise energy consumption during its operation. The energy required to run the laboratory is met by renewable sources including solar power and sustainable bio-fuel. When not in use, the building becomes ‘dormant’, using the minimum amount of energy while storing heat.

Any excess energy will provide enough Carbon Credit to pay back the carbon used in the construction process over the next 25-50 years. The building is also set to achieve a 70% reduction in embodied carbon in comparison to a comparative conventional newbuild.

For more information visit: www.bkstructures.co.uk