Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, University of Edinburgh


A new state-of-the-art, energy efficient hub for knowledge, innovation and skills.


A site designed to bring together experts from business, government and academia. The aim? To innovate and solve the complex problems associated with climate change and the transition to a low carbon culture.


Providing full traditional duties, our first challenge was that the University of Edinburgh wanted to fit the new hub within the context of a listed historic building. This meant we had to work around certain constraints of remodelling and refurbishment and to make it a showcase for carbon efficiency.


We improved the building fabric where we could to reduce the energy demand. We connected to the University’s district CHP system, allowing significant saving in CO2 emissions (38%) and meeting 56% of the energy demand. Photovoltaic panels also provided further carbon and energy savings. To reduce the energy impact the ventilation strategy is predominantly passive natural ventilation.

We only introduced comfort cooling in really high occupancy areas. Areas such as lecture theatres are provided with cooling via displacement air ventilation, reducing the required air volume and energy use. A specialised ‘vapour open’ system of insulation also limited energy loss and ensured good quality indoor air. Solar glazing is used throughout, and the building is fitted with energy-efficient lighting in the zoned control and use of sensors to limit usage. The project achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating and was the first refurbished building in the UK to achieve this.

Key Facts

Client: University of Edinburgh
Photographer: Dave Morris
Awards: BREEAM Outstanding Rating – First refurbishment in the World  /  2014 RICS Award for Building Conservation  /  2014 Scottish Design Awards – Education Building or Project  /  2017 CIBSE Building Performance Award Nomination

“Harley Haddow brought excellent Innovation, vision and enthusiasm to the project, which ensured a successful project delivery. Harley Haddow worked well with the design team on the project to address all problems arising. The project also had to meet the University’s ambitious sustainability aspirations (BREEAM Outstanding), which they did expertly, as well as being proactive in managing design issues, managing the overall contract and resolving on-site problems.” Cliff Baraclough, Estate Development Manager, University of Edinburgh



Higher Education

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