NEDEF Sustainable campus
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.
Campus sustainability map

Campus sustainability map

We've created a sustainable campus that reduces our impact on the environment, giving you a live sustainability learning experience. This campus trail tells you more about our sustainability activities and the technology that we have on campus, much of it hidden behind the scenes in the building’s structure.
You can take a tour of the campus sustainability features on our interactive sustainability map.

Our commitment

We aim to:

Goal 1: For refurbishment projects 
  • Design and deliver refurbishment projects to target SKA Gold standard for suitable projects. 
  • Upgrade existing buildings to higher levels of energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. 
Goal 2: New construction projects
This includes small and large capital works and large extension projects.
  • Design buildings to deliver low carbon in use buildings.
  • Aim to deliver energy for space heating must not exceed 15 kWh/m2/year.
Our performance:
Our performance on recent construction and major refurbishment projects is provided on the timeline below.

Projects in progress

Fitzroy Building

Work has begun on the refurbishment of Fitzroy Building. Once this is complete, our Plymouth Business School and The Cube will sit at the heart of campus. This refurbishment has been designed to SKA Gold standards and sustainable features include:
  • 59 Solar Photovoltaic panels.
  • Reusing the building frame will save 800 tCO₂e of embodied carbon when compared to demolishing Fitzroy and building new.
  • Energy efficient white LED lighting.
  • Flow rates for taps limited to 6L/minute.
  • Low global warming potential (GWP) insulation (5 GWP or less).
  • Soft floor coverings either reused or if new manufactured with at least 50% recycled content and comply with ISO 14021:2016.
  • Low impact refrigerants.
  • Energy efficient heat pumps HVAC zone controls are on the Energy Technology List or meet ETL criteria.
  • Specified U-Values as follows: External wall 0.30W/m2k, Ground floor 0.25W/m2k, Roof 0.60W/m2k.
  • Pre-refurbishment and furniture and fittings audits have been carried out to encourage reuse of materials and furniture, with potential relocation elsewhere on campus.
  • Low flush WCs (4.5L or less).
  • All materials used in the fit-out have low or zero volatile organic compound emissions.
  • 100% of timber used is either to be reclaimed or has a recognised chain of custody mark.
  • Air source heat pumps.
  • Energy efficient hand dryers, output 1600W or less.
  • Window treatments are with at least 80% recycled content.
  • Energy efficient lifts.
  • A passive design approach has been taken in line with SKA to ensure that space heating does not exceed 15kWh/m2/year.
  • Automatic monitoring and targeting (AMT) equipment will be installed to separately meter space heating and ensure that this does not exceed 15kWh/m2/year.
  • Soft-landings processes are being implemented to ensure provision of correct training for facilities and maintenance staff on sustainable design measures to ensure efficiencies are maximised in operation.

Completed projects

Babbage Building 

The extensive refurbishment of the 1970s building includes a new-build extension and opened in November 2023. The building allows for more than 10,000m² of research and teaching space for engineering and design based academic programmes. The project was comprised of new and refurbished elements, existing sustainability assessment criteria such as SKA were not deemed suitable to use and a bespoke, high-performance criterion was developed and implemented. 
Key sustainable features of this high performing building include:
  • 140 Solar Photovoltaic panels.
  • Reuse of building frame will save between 1,500 – 1,700 tCO₂e of embodied carbon when compared to demolishing Babbage and building new.
  • Higher levels of energy efficiency – hugely improved building fabric U-Values + renewable technologies. 
  • Reduced carbon emissions – limited gas supply to the building with space heating demand being met by electric (ASHP).
  • Low flush toilets and sensor taps.
  • Highly insulated building fabric, low energy technologies such as ASHP will ensure energy for space heating won’t exceed 15kWh/m2/year.
New Engineering and Design Facility
  • Installation of two new lifts (plus 2no. platform lifts) and new level access to levels 0 and 1 providing improved accessibility.
  • Renewable technologies such as ASHP, PVs.
  • Designed to follow low energy in use principles, the building has a SCORS A+ rating, exceeding LETI and RIBA 2030 targets.
  • Heat pump technology.
  • The first building designed with a new electric-led connection to the heat network.

InterCity Place 

This refurbishment of the brownfield 1960s office block meets not just our own Campus Masterplan but also that of Plymouth City’s Council Gateway to Plymouth project. This project utilised funding from Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) to install air source heat pumps via Salix Finance. 2022–23 saw the final stages for the build, with the building opening in August 2023. This building is the new home for the Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery. The building creates a centralised space for interdisciplinary teaching and research and was refurbished to SKA Gold Standard with an estimated EPC rating of B, and includes the following features:
  • 60 Solar Photovoltaic panels.
  • Mechanical heat recovery.
  • Thermally efficient façade using triple glazing, superior air tightness and vertical solar shading to reduce excessive solar gains in summer.
  • SKA Gold certification.
  • The “smart building” features high levels of lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling automation to maximise comfort and reduce operational energy consumption.
  • Air source heat pumps. 
Intercity Place East Elevation Night
  • Future proofed BMS sensors.
  • Low water use push control taps with aerators, and low volume dual mode WC flushes.
  • Highly insulated building fabric, low energy technologies such as ASHP will ensure energy for space heating won’t exceed 15kWh/m2/year.
  • Reuse of building frame will save 1,850 tCO₂e of embodied carbon.

Portland Villas

Complete in 2023, these Grade II listed buildings went through a full refurbishment on the South side. Improvements to the footprint of these buildings were possible by:
  • Introducing rimless toilets which require less water for cleaning and a maximum flush of 4.5L compared to the standard 6L.
  • Aerated taps reduce water quantity used.
  • Kitchens have been constructed in Britain and wooden items are of FSC or PEFC origin.
  • Insulating the roof space.
Portland Villas

CobBauge building 

Completed in 2022, the CobBauge building is part of an innovative research project.
  • Award wins in construction.
  • Award nominations for research
  • On campus living lab for thermal performance of buildings and energy efficiency.
  • 40% lower CO2 emissions compared to traditional masonry materials.
  • Innovative cob material that meets new thermal and structural building regulations.
To book this space, contact the Sustainability Hub at

Sustainability Hub (Kirkby Lodge)

The Sustainability Hub (Kirkby Lodge) reopened in 2019 and is designed to the highest SKA Gold Standards including:
  • 80 square meters of green wall home to over 90 plants per square meter.
  • FSC certified sustainable timber cladding.
  • Home to our Net-Zero Vision for Plymouth mural.
  • 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 and sensors.
  • Naturally ventilated and passive design.
It 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. 
Sustainability Hub

Derriford Research Facility

Derriford Research Facility opened in 2018 and is home to the University of Plymouth’s internationally renowned Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence.
  • Designed to BREEAM Excellent Standard.
  • Solar PV.
  • CHP.
  • LED lighting throughout.
  • Adjacent to Derriford Hospital.

Marine Station

Opened in 2014, the Marine Station is a £4.65 million development provides a base for our marine expeditionary work.
  • The BREEAM Excellent standard building includes photovoltaics, generating electricity from the sun.
  • 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.
Marine Station from the side

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% recycled aggregate, whilst 70% 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.
  • Efficient LED lighting throughout.
  • 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. 
The House

Wellbeing Centre 

The Wellbeing Centre opened in 2014 to provide space for reflection, relaxation and health on campus.
  • Designed to BREEAM Excellent Standard.
  • Solar PV.
Wellbeing Centre

Marine Building

Opened in October 2012, the Marine Building is built to BREEAM Excellent standard. It 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.
  • A 'blue roof' allows for temporary storage of water and subsequent slow release of stormwater runoff, an example of sustainable urban drainage design and mitigates excess runoff.
  • Low loss transformers provide a more efficient way to reduce the voltage supply.
Marine building

Roland Levinsky Building

Opened in 2008, the Roland Levinsky Building achieved BREEAM Very Good rating and has a number of sustainable features:
  • 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 cross point atrium space utilises a low energy ventilation system, where fresh air is drawn into the building through below ground level air ducts. 
Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth campus

Beyond campus

Our sustainable buildings reach beyond Plymouth. 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. The Pool Innovation Centre also boasts photovoltaic cells to generate electricity from the sun, as well as a green roof to aid biodiversity and reduce heat gain in the building. Our Exeter Dental Education Facility opened in 2017 and was built to a SKA Silver standard.
A group of students walking across Plymouth campus near Drakes Place and the Reservoir Cafe

Discover more

Sustainability is embedded not just in operations across the University but also in our course provision, education methods and research.

Dartmoor expedition

Sustainability courses and programmes
Plymouth offers a range of sustainability themed courses and programmes across many disciplines.

Sustainability education

Sustainability education
Discover how the Centre for Sustainable Futures works to embed sustainability across our faculties.

Aerial view from high altitude of little planet earth with small village houses and distant green cultivated agricultural fields with growing crops on bright summer evening

Sustainability research
Our Sustainable Earth Institute is about advancing research, knowledge and innovation for a more sustainable Earth.