Sustainable campus and construction

All our new construction and refurbishment projects are to achieve sustainable design standards – following our own in house specification for new building design and SKA Gold for refurbishment projects. The University is in the process of a review of the campus masterplan, a ten year phased capital investment programme to bring about the transformation of our campus. Currently in plan is the New Engineering and Design Facility and Intercity Place.

Our commitment

We're retaining and advancing further our existing leading national and international position as the sustainable university – by developing an innovative and cutting edge sustainable campus infrastructure. We have a continual process of campus development, involving refurbishment and maintenance.

We aim to:

  • achieve our own in house specification for sustainable design for new construction and SKA Gold for all refurbishment projects from 2019.
  • design out waste where possible and target zero waste to landfill for construction projects.
  • protect and enhance local biodiversity on site.
  • install where possible renewable technologies, including natural ventilation, solar shading, solar hot water, photovoltaics and rainwater harvesting.
  • move towards smart buildings with smart meters and controls on all new builds.

Our performance

  • The Sustainability Hub (Kirkby Lodge) refurbished in 2019 to SKA Gold standard.
  • Wellbeing Centre – opened in 2014, and designed to BREEAM Excellent.
  • The House – our new performing arts centre, opened in September 2014 and built to BREEAM Excellent.
  • Marine Station – opened in 2014 and designed to BREEAM Excellent.
  • Marine Building – opened in 2012, built to BREEAM Excellent.
  • Exeter Dental Education Facility – opened in 2017 and built to SKA Silver standard.
  • Derriford Research Facility – opened in 2018 and built to BREEAM Excellent.

<p>Sustainability Hub exterior</p>

The Sustainability Hub (Kirkby Lodge)

The Sustainability Hub (Kirkby Lodge) reopened in 2019 and is designed to the highest SKA Gold Standard

SKA Gold standards met include:

  • 80 square meters of green wall home to over 90 plants per square meter
  • FSC certified sustainable timber cladding
  • 4 kilowatt of photovoltaics
  • Reception digital energy display
  • Responsible sourcing for materials with a primary focus on reuse
  • Low flush WCs
  • Maximises natural light with energy efficient LED lighting
  • Naturally ventilated and passive design

The Sustainability Hub is also home to the Sustainable Earth Institute and the Low Carbon Devon projects which provides a space where businesses, social enterprises and community groups can mix with researchers and students around the issue of sustainability.

Discover more about the Sustainability Hub and browse the before, during and after photos of this refurbishment.

The House

The House

The House opened in September 2014 and achieved BREEAM Excellent rating for design, building works and materials used in construction
The materials used were responsibly sourced and included at least 25 per cent recycled aggregate, whilst 70 per cent of construction waste was diverted from landfill and recycled or reused. 
  • The occupied spaces make use of natural daylight. 
  • The electric lighting is controlled by proximity and daylight sensors. 
  • External lighting is energy efficient and controlled to only come on during night hours. 
  • The building's occupied spaces are cooled by natural ventilation. 
  • There's a 20,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank to supply the toilets, whilst sensor-operated taps and low flush toilets reduce water use. 
  • Voltage optimisation controls the power supply to the building - reducing energy and power demand. 
Discover more about The House.
Marine building

The Marine Building

Opened in October 2012, the Marine Building is built to BREEAM Excellent standard.

The Marine Building is an example of sustainable construction whilst housing cutting-edge facilities for marine research – which in itself will include renewable energy research.

  • The building uses the sun's energy to heat hot water via solar thermal hot water technology.
  • Harvested rainwater supplies the toilets.
  • The building has low energy LED lighting and lighting sensors – reducing energy use from lighting.

Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth campus

The Roland Levinsky Building

Opened in 2008, the Roland Levinsky Building achieved BREEAM Very Good rating.

The Roland Levinsky Building has a number of sustainable features:

  • It incorporates a copper wrap exterior for longevity, as well as recyclable properties and exposed concrete walls to provide thermal mass to maximize temperature control.
  • The roof uses roof lights to flood the atrium with natural light, and is home to a 6,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank that supplies the toilets.
  • A 2.2kW photovoltaic system powers the lighting in the cafe, which is also surrounded by Pilkington Suncool glass to reduce solar gain.
  • The remaining lighting consists of low energy LEDs operated by proximity sensors for lighting control.
  • The lecture theatres have separate air handling units to provide air conditioning only when needed.
  • The building uses the cross point atrium space to utilise a low energy ventilation system, where fresh air is drawn into the building through below ground level air ducts.

Find out more about the Roland Levinsky Building

Marine Station from the side

Marine Station

Opened in 2014, the £4.65 million development provides a base for our marine expeditionary work.

The building includes photovoltaics, generating electricity from the sun and has its own Combined Heat and Power (CHP) boiler, providing electricity and hot water for the heating and showering facilities, delivering savings in utility costs for the building.

CHP generates electricity whilst capturing usable heat that is produced during the process, usually a by-product in conventional boilers that is wasted.

Discover more about the Marine Station.

<p>Intercity Place East Elevation Night<br></p>

InterCity Place

InterCity Place will provide a new specialist teaching facility for Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health allowing for centralisation of teaching and interdisciplinary teaching and research to be developed. 
Expected completion is July 2023. Key sustainability features include:
  • Solar PV.
  • Mechanical heat recovery.
  • Air Source Heat Pumps.
  • Future proofing BMS people counting sensors.
  • High performance façade with vertical fins for solar shading.
  • Reuse of concrete frame retaining embodied carbon.
  • Targeted SKA Gold Rating.
  • Low water use fittings.
<p>New Engineering and Design Facility</p>


A central component of the University’s campus masterplan, which will allow the University to provide cutting edge teaching facilities for engineering and design based academic programmes for the next generation of students.
Expected completion is July 2023. Key sustainable features of this high performing building include:
  • Solar PV.
  • Air Sourced Heat Pumps.
  • Fabric first sustainability strategy with highly insulated wall build up and airtightness.
  • Reuse and incorporation of existing Babbage concrete frame into new building results in a CO2e saving of between 1500-1700 tonnes, when compared to demolishing Babbage and building new.
  • SCORS A+ rating, exceeding LETI and RIBA 2030 targets.
  • Low water use fittings.

Beyond campus

Our sustainable buildings reach beyond campus. The Health and Wellbeing, Pool and Tremough Innovation Centres are all built to BREEAM Excellent standard, incorporating biomass boilers, natural ventilation systems and rainwater harvesting, and they all use locally sourced building materials. Both the Pool Innovation Centre and the Peninsula Dental School based in Plymouth's Science Park have photovoltaic cells to generate electricity from the sun, as well as a green roof to aid biodiversity and reduce heat gain in the building.

To find out more about the University’s sustainability activities and the technology in use on campus, how about taking a tour on the interactive sustainability trail on either your University of Plymouth app or online.