UEA's Enterprise Centre showcased at COP26 as one of the world's most sustainable buildings

12 November 2021

The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has featured in an exhibition at COP26, as one of the most exemplary sustainable building projects in the world.

The centre, located on University Drive on the UEA’s campus in Norwich, has been selected as one of 17 buildings featured in Build Better Now, the COP26 Built Environment pavilion organised by the UK Green Building Council as part of the conference. 

Build Better Now showcased the urgent role that buildings and cities can play in combating climate change, and acts as a global call for climate action. As part of this, the project has created a virtual pavilion to highlight building projects across the planet that offer solutions to the climate crisis through innovative and sustainable construction, design and engineering.

On Thursday 11th November, COP26 dedicated its focus on Built Environment Day, recognising the fact that buildings consume over a third of energy produced worldwide, and are responsible for 40% of global energy related to carbon emissions. The sector therefore has a crucial role to play in supporting the world’s transition to a net zero carbon economy.

One of the greenest buildings in the UK, The Enterprise Centre has achieved the accolade amongst international contenders such as Singita Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Favela Da Paz in Brazil.

Completed in 2015, the original challenge for the team building The Enterprise Centre was to create the UK’s most sustainable building. As a result, it was constructed sourcing low-carbon local materials, including pine and a concrete mix using locally recycled sand and aggregate. 

The building is clad in Norfolk thatch and reed, while other material choices included 100% recycled paper insulation, hemp fabric, reprocessed glass, clay plaster and nettle boards. Biodiversity features within the building include insect hotels, bat and bird boxes and display bed terraces.

The innovative Enterprise Centre has the two highest sustainability certifications possible; Passivhaus and BREEAM Outstanding. The low embodied carbon building is made from timber, local thatch and reclaimed materials. It was completed in 2015 and is one of only a handful of buildings to achieve an energy certificate DEC A rating, the most energy efficient specification, for a sixth year in a row.

Its inclusion in the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion demonstrates the importance of the building to the international architecture and sustainability community. Its construction is part of the UEA’s commitment to sustainability (including the University’s pledge to become 100% net zero by 2045 or earlier), leadership in addressing environmental issues and commitment to the latest in sustainable construction. 

Roger Bond, Director of Estates for the University commented: “The University has always been a pioneer of low energy buildings and the Enterprise Centre has broadened and deepened this spirit.

“From the inception of this building, sustainability has been the driving force. From procurement to supply chain, from design to life cycle management, local and global issues of sustainability have been recognised and addressed. Its construction shows what is achievable if client, designers and constructors really understand and focus on what is important.”

Ben Humphries, Director at Architype, the building architects, said: “The Enterprise Centre shows what’s possible to achieve in the built environment when every aspect of ecological design, from energy and carbon impact, to local natural materials, to landscape, to health and wellbeing is embraced. Being featured in the pavilion alongside other global exemplars will hopefully show that there are already tried and tested solutions to cutting carbon – we don’t need to wait to take action on climate change.”

You can see the Build Better Now Pavilion, featuring The Enterprise Centre and other examples of sustainable projects worldwide, on the Build Better Now website.

The Enterprise Centre is a thriving business hub, home to a community of over 165 businesses. In addition to supporting these businesses it is available to the wider community as inspirational meeting and event space. Multi-award winning, securing accolades from Royal Institute for British Architecture to Guardian Sustainable Business Award and British Council for Offices, the 2017 Civic Trust Award is testament to its importance to the local community.