Skip to the main content

Low carbon building

Find out how we turned a previously old and draughty building into an award-winning masterclass in energy efficiency.

It’s important to us that our ECCI hub sets a strong example of smart energy and resource usage.

We wanted to demonstrate that even a historic Edinburgh building can be made low carbon with the right know-how.

So how did we bring it into the 21st Century without infringing on its historical integrity? Through a combination of good craftsmanship, new technology, innovative methods and attention to detail. As the Project Architect, Calum Duncan, put it:

“There is no one hi-tech feature that gives a historic building outstanding sustainable credentials. The devil is in the detail. It takes a lot of hard work and consideration in every small aspect of the building construction details, type of materials, where they come from, how they are made and how long they last."

Sustainable and recycled materials

Our first priority was to make sure we used natural, local and sustainable materials. We were also able to reuse 96% of existing materials, thanks to a thorough pre-restoration audit.

We opted to use timber for the structural fabric of the building, rather than the standard steel frame. Our frame is made from a special blend of sustainable timber. Over its lifetime, it will capture and store more carbon than what was used to construct it.

Lean energy use

Another important step was to make the new and existing parts of our Category B-listed building as airtight as possible. This involved the use of a special tape to seal the period sash and case windows.

We also used unique wall insulation to limit energy loss and make sure the building is effectively ventilated. Last but not least, our sophisticated energy management system encourages sensible use of the building's heating and ventilation controls.

Clean and green energy generation

Our low carbon energy needs were met by installing:

  • a south-facing solar hub roof
  • an air source heat pump
  • a combined heat and power source

Energy efficiency

ECCI has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)* rating of B+, with average annual CO2 emissions calculated at 21 KgCO2/m2.

Energy Performance Certificates are issued to new buildings and give properties an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

Awards and nominations

Ours was the first listed building in the UK to achieve the BREEAM (building sustainability) ‘Outstanding’ award. Other awards and nominations include:

  • Building of the Year Award - RIAS EAA Awards
  • RICS - Winner – Building Conservation Awards
  • Scottish Property Awards - Architectural Excellence Award (Commercial Buildings) - Finalist – Highly Commended
  • Civic Trust Awards My Place Awards - Special commendation
  • Scottish Design Awards - Education Building of the Year
  • AJ Retrofit Awards 2014 (Shortlisted)

Funding our first steps

The building of ECCI’s Edinburgh hub was made possible by a substantial donation from the George and Kaity David foundation, which continues to support our education activities. The project also received funding from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund.