UEA's Low Carbon Campus journey – our key milestones UEA's Low Carbon Campus journey – our key milestones

UEA was an early adopter of the low energy/carbon agenda, with our low carbon campus journey beginning in the early 1990s.

Although the need to reduce CO2 emissions primarily became a focus for the HE sector after 2005, running an efficient and low energy estate has been a long-standing goal of UEA.

The challenges of operating a 1960s estate with poor thermal performance led UEA to develop a series of highly thermally efficient buildings, both to counter the original building stock and to ensure the estate as a whole was cost effective to operate.

Norfolk Terrace Ziggurats

1990 – 1995: The Elizabeth Fry Building (1995) 1990 – 1995: The Elizabeth Fry Building (1995)

Elizabeth Fry Building - 'The best building ever' (Building Services Journal, 1998)

After 20 years, the Elizabeth Fry Building still exceeds current building regulations for thermal performance and is one our most energy efficient buildings on campus.

  • “Best building ever”, Building Services Journal (1998)
  • High thermal mass, highly insulated triple glazing
  • Low energy structural ceiling slab system, TermoDeck, provides very consistent conditions throughout the year.

How does TermoDeck work?

Read more about the Elizabeth Fry Building

1995 – 2000: CHP and District Heating (1999) 1995 – 2000: CHP and District Heating (1999)

Through our combined heat and power (CHP) engines, UEA regularly generates over 60% of its own, low carbon, electricity. This reduces our carbon footprint by around 20%, or 5000tCO2e (compared to traditional boilers and grid electricity).

  • Four CHP engines installed (4700kW in total)
  • Provide electricity and heating, via existing district heating scheme
  • Use natural gas to generate electricity; waste heat captured and used to heat buildings. Overall efficiency is around 80%
  • Regularly reduces energy costs by over £1 million per year.

2000 – 2005: ZICER Building and integrated PV (2002) 2000 – 2005: ZICER Building and integrated PV (2002)

ZICER Building, with integrated PV

The ZICER (The Zuckerman Institute for Connective Environmental Research) Building was UEA's first building-integrated photovoltaic (PV) system. The 34kW system demonstrates the potential of building integrated PV.

  • Won the ‘Low Energy Building of the Year' award in the Building Magazine's sustainability competition, 2005
  • Second low energy building using the TermoDeck system
  • Thermal performance improved over the Elizabeth Fry Building
  • Over 240,000kWh of zero-carbon electricity generated since opening (the amount required to power the average house for 72 years).

Read the Building Magazine award article (2005)

2005 – 2010: District cooling, and Thomas Paine Study Centre 2005 – 2010: District cooling, and Thomas Paine Study Centre


District cooling engine, UEA

Bringing the double benefit: reducing electrical demand by creating value from waste output from low carbon technology.

  • Project uses waste heat from the CHP engines, not electrical energy, to generate the power to create cold water. An absorption chiller unit replaced electrically-driven compression refrigeration, saving even more energy.
  • Existing district pipe network provides cooling to laboratory equipment and areas prone to overheating.


Thomas Paine Study Centre, UEA

Continuing to specialise in using thermal mass and innovative ventilation, with increased zoning for local comfort.

  • 360-seat lecture theatre, seminar rooms and offices
  • TermoDeck heating/cooling system, with similar performance to Elizabeth Fry and ZICER
  • Learnt from other buildings: installed displacement ventilation and more zone controls to improve occupant comfort.

2010 – 2015: Julian Study Centre, and Crome Court 2010 – 2015: Julian Study Centre, and Crome Court


Julian Study Centre

The Julian Study Centre began UEA's exploration of the potential of cross-laminated timber (CLT) for academic and residential buildings, allowing quick construction and a lower carbon footprint.

  • TermoDeck heating and cooling system, with hollow concrete floors, still used
  • CLT structure reduced the amount of concrete used (saving ‘embodied carbon’) and speeding up construction
  • Achieved an air tightness far exceeding current building regulations, meaning that it loses heat much more slowly in the winter
  • LED lighting; 22kW of PV roof-mounted PV; received the highest-rated Energy Performance Certificate (A, out of G)
  • A building that used less energy in construction, but is also more efficient during use.


Crome Court, UEA's greenest accommodation block

Our most environmental and energy-efficient accommodation block, Crome Court has won several awards for its innovation in new construction software, and is a finalist in the 2015 Green Gown Awards (the education sector's sustainability Oscars!)

  • Cross-laminated timber superstructure completely replaces concrete in the frame
  • Around 21kW of PV; external green wall; greywater recycling system; energy display screens per flat, helping residents understand their energy use and flat performance
  • ‘BREEAM Excellent’, a top rank in the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings
  • First building on campus to fully embrace Building Information Modelling, or BIM: one of the first projects in the UK to achieve a fully-integrated, '6D' BIM Level 2 (ahead of government schedule).

Read the Crome Court case study

Crome Court: Winner, Built Environment category in the 2015 Green Gown Awards

2015: Boiler replacement, and Enterprise Centre 2015: Boiler replacement, and Enterprise Centre


Replacing the 50-year-old boilers used to back up the CHP engines and provide extra mid-winter heat will save money on an ongoing basis, as well as reduce wasted energy through increased efficiency.

  • Three new, 6MW natural gas Bosch boilers installed
  • Boiler efficiency improved from 75% to over 90%, saving over £50,000 per year
  • Saves over 300tCO2e per year.


The Enterprise Centre at The University of East Anglia

The Enterprise Centre is UEA and Norfolk’s showcase low carbon building, aspiring to be the UK’s greenest commercial building. It is an inspirational example of the potential for sustainability-aware architecture and local, bio-renewable materials.

  • Targeted the challenging and internationally-recognised Passivhaus standard, the world’s leading ‘fabric first’ approach to low energy buildings
  • Expected to achieve a 'BREEAM Outstanding' rating, the world’s leading design and assessment method for sustainable buildings
  • An exemplar of sustainable procurement, and low embodied energy and carbon construction technologies, through natural and bio-renewable materials sourced through local supply chains.

Looking forward... Looking forward...

A major component of the next phase of the Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme (2020 to 2025) is likely to be the refurbishment of the 1960s campus buildings, with energy reduction in mind alongside improving environmental conditions.

The University, including the Estates Division Senior Management Team, is currently considering the future Estates Strategy.