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Our Sustainable Building

‘A refreshing building: intelligent, sustainable and elegant’

Our Sustainable Building

‘Along with the subtle aesthetic and practical improvements here are the less visible environmental features…This is just another element of the design that make this such a refreshing building: intelligent, sustainable and elegant’. Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times, 15 February 2015

During 2014 the Whitworth underwent the largest physical transformation in its 125-year history with a major capital development that put sustainability at the heart of the project.  By increasing the building footprint by 30%, yet cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions by 10%, we are on track to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. 

To meet our energy saving and carbon emissions targets, we have new energy efficient boilers and green technologies including a solar thermal array to heat water for the kitchens and toilets, and a closed loop ground source heat pump, and earth tubes which both use the natural temperature of the ground beneath the art garden to supplement our heating and ventilation systems.  Our new building incorporates specialist glazing to combat solar gain, while covered areas near our learning studio, extensive brise soleil protecting our study room and galleries, and the trees alongside the cafe provide shading.

Our services are metered and energy monitored by the University as well as our core funders, Arts Council England, via Julie’s Bicycle.  We have installed LED lighting throughout the building, use occupancy sensors in back-of-house areas and maximize the use of daylight in public spaces.  We save water by having dual flush toilets, aerators on taps to reduce water flow, and energy efficient appliances in both commercial and staff areas.

As far as possible we used sustainable construction processes, for example traditional lime plastering, and locally sourced materials, such as recycled bricks used to complement the existing building, while a company in Leeds developed a bespoke Terrazzo flooring known as ‘The Whitworth Mix’.  Original lighting fitments on the stairs were conserved, and historic elements of the 1906 Beaumont building retained; listed elements, such as the cobbles and York stone from the old service road were reused in the Orchard Garden.