Amy Fox

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Concrete: Enterprise centre could make Norwich a “green capital”

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UEA are hoping to pioneer one of the most “trailblazing” sustainable buildings in the country.

Instead of the University’s infamous concrete, the £15.9m NRP enterprise centre will be made from locally-sourced renewable materials such as timber and chalk. It will be used by students and new businesses in order to provide a link between UEA and the local community.

Following an exhibition of the plans at the Sportspark on Tuesday 7 August, the EDP reported project director John French as saying: “What we are trying to do is create a world-class building that is exemplary in its low-carbon performance. Just like the Olympics, we want to create a buzz about the place.

“It will be a huge benefit to Norwich’s economy and to Norwich’s reputation as a green capital. It is a statement building. It states a set of values associated with the university, making its contribution at a practical level towards addressing climate change. Alongside our world-class research and teaching this is a practical example of how we can put it into practice.

“We want to demonstrate that this is possible to do, so that people will copy it. People never change in society unless someone comes along and does something differently.”

The goal for the enterprise centre will be 168 kilos of CO2 per square metre. This is extremely low when compared to the best practice of “embodied energy” university buildings, which currently at 845.

Architect Ben Humphries said: “It will set a new standard, not just for the UK, but for the world. It will be a real trailblazer and it is all down to the local supply chain and the use of natural materials. As they grow, they absorb CO2, so they have a negative carbon count, whereas concrete and plastics use a whole lot of energy to produce.”

The centre will include a lecture theatre, teaching rooms and a “hatchery” where students can interact with businesses, as well as starting their own.

Dr Jon Carter, assistant director of UEA’s Research and Enterprise Services, said: “This is a great opportunity for much needed expansion of the University to ensure we offer facilities which are in line with those of a world leading institution and allow the University to enhance its support for the local economy while maintaining the value of the campus and its surrounding area to the local community.”

The consultation will continue until 31 August, and if the planning application is approved, work will begin in May and be completed by September 2014. It will be located on the land of a former council depot off University Drive near Earlham Park.

It is part of a “masterplan” development which links University Drive to Earlham Hall, which includes a further academic building and incorporates the nursery and memorial gardens.

£7.2m of the funding comes from UEA itself, with £6.2m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The remaining £2.5m will be provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the BRE Group.

More information on the building can be found at: www.adaptcbe.co.uk

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