The Forum - Planning Application
A broad and holistic response to sustainability is at the heart of the brief for the new Potterrow
building. Objectives have been agreed for economic, social and environmental performance as
summarised in the headings below.
- Satisfying Edinburgh’s economic needs. Efficient, large
University buildings in the heart of the city will help ensure
prosperity both for the University and the city. The integration of
research and incubation will benefit future
Satisfying the University Estates Strategy. Flexible, adaptable lower
maintenance space will help reduce the University property costs.
Value over the whole life of the building. Consideration of running
costs and life cycles is important to an appreciation of value rather
Future Proofing. Flexibility to allow future change including change of function, say, to offices, will help the
building to hold its value.
- A shop window for the University. The building will house administrative functions such as lifelong learning and a Health
Centre which are available to all. The building can help explain both the University and
some of the functions within the building. The building will house international conferences
and participate in the Edinburgh Festival.
A heart to the College. The student community as a whole will access the building for information on careers etc.
Putting a range of student services in close proximity will help to further develop links
between the different services i.e. between Counselling and the Health Centre or the
International Office and Admissions liason. There will also be a café and retail area.
Access. The public areas should be accessible to all with special consideration for people with
Research. Several of the building users including Informatics and Linguistics hope to use spaces in the
building to facilitate research.
Crime. The University support the use of ‘secured by design’ as a reference document regarding
Culture. Students and the public, are increasingly interested in green issues and environmental
Considerate Contractors. Construction can be disruptive. The tender documents will refer to registration of
prospective tenderers within the Considerate Contractors Scheme.
Consultation. Consultation regarding the Potterrow building will be required with a wide variety of people
including students, staff, neighbours and pressure groups.
Learning. The development of Potterrow offers a range of opportunities for learning both during
construction (Architecture students?) and upon completion. Many of the users are actively
interested in the interaction of people with each other and their environment.
Integration. The building will provide an active contribution to the public realm, including a courtyard to
enhance the City’s social networks i.e. the opposite of exclusion.
Inclusion. Both the outreach nature of some departments such as Lifelong Learning and the semi
public nature of some of the ground floor functions will help foster inclusion by making the
University more understandable to the wider community.
- Health, Welfare and Comfort
- Transport Infrastructure
- Land Use of Utilisation
- Use of Non-Renewable Energy Sources
- Water Use
- Material Use
- Global Atmospheric Impacts
- Microclimate and Local Air Quality
- Noise and Vibration
- Water Environment
- Biodiversity & Ecology
The University has adopted two key targets in pursuit of their environmentals strategy. In the
first place the University wishes to see a 40% reduction in carbon emission by 2010. In the
second place the University has an aspiration for all new buildings to achieve a BREEAM
The University also wishes the Potterrow Project to be benchmarked against the Environmental
Performance Indicators promoted by the Movement for Innovation and this will require data on
energy in use, embodied energy, waste, water, biodiversity and transport.
The University of Edinburgh (UofE) has declared its commitment to environmental issues in
its Environmental Policy. These general aims have been developed in greater detail with
respect to property, in general, and more specifically the Potterrow development. The
requirements have guided the design development of the schemes for the Potterrow
In summary, the current designs meet the goals of the UofE Environmental Policy relating to:
- minimisation of energy
- minimisation of water consumption
- reduction of harmful emissions
- promotion of waste reduction, re-use and recovery
- implementation of environmentally friendly transport plans
The UofE has an aspiration to achieve an Excellent rating under BREEAM 2004 for New
Offices. This requirement is explicitly stated in the project brief.
These goals are to be met in the following ways:
Health, Welfare and Comfort
The internal environments of all the buildings is comfortable and avoids risks to health
(legionella, contaminants etc.). Features include:
- Internal air quality has been carefully considered by positioning of air inlets for
ventilation away from sources of external pollution.
- Control of the internal environment has been provided for occupants wherever
possible, including local control of lighting, local thermal zone control, openable
windows, and control of glare in the form of internal blinds.
- Secure, covered spaces for bicycles are provided along with facilities for cyclists to
change and shower.
- A transport plan is currently being developed which shall address frequency and quality
of local transport to the development.
- Limited car parking spaces to encourage the use of the local transport links.
Land Use and Utilisation
- The development makes use of a large brownfield site which helps reduce pressure to
use greenfield sites.
- The development has made efficient use of the site with a high density of people
accommodated on the site.
Use of Non-Renewable Energy Sources
- Measures for reducing energy demand during the operation of the development:
- centralised CHP plant to improve energy efficiency;
- use of efficient ventilation system using displacement ventilation with limited
requirements for cooling being served from ground water cooling;
- improved thermal insulation;
- solar shading to reduce solar gain;
- energy efficient lighting and controls local to the user.
- The demand for water is being reduced through measures such as:
- spray taps;
- low-flush toilets;
- a comprehensive leak detection system.
- A rainwater harvesting system is being investigated, storing rainwater from the roof for
use to flush WCs. This shall allow a target figure of 3.5m3/person/annum.
- Recycled aggregate (crushed concrete) could be used in the substructure.
- All solid timber and timber panel products are being obtained from sustainable, wellmanaged
- It has been agreed to carry out a restricted ENVEST audit for embodied energy to inform
the client and design team.
- Construction waste is separated of site at the Local Waste Transfer Station.
- Waste generated during building operation will be managed and reduced by wastestream
- the separation, storage and recycling of waste
- the provision of storage space for recyclable materials (such as cans, cups, paper)
Global Atmospheric Impacts
- The energy efficient design will provide the required
internal environment and services with a target energy value of
90-130kWh/m2/annum generated in an environmentally sensitive manner to
provide carbon dioxide emissions in the range of 31-45 kg/CO2/m2/annum.
- The chillers used in the building will contain refrigerants
with an Ozone Depletion Potential of zero and there is a refrigerant
leak detection system installed to reduce the risk of leaks.
Microclimate and Local Air Quality
- The heat for the development shall be generated from the
waste heat from the CHP plant. Back up boilers shall be ultra-low NOx
(Oxides of nitrogen). Oxides of nitrogen are emitted when gas is burned
at high temperatures. These NOx emissions contribute to acid raid,
climate change, and local air pollution.
Noise and vibration
- A comprehensive noise assessment shall be carried out to
ensure that the operation of the buildings do not increase the
background noise levels beyond the requirements set by the Local
- During the construction phase regular noise surveys are
carried out and actions taken to ensure that the noise does not exceed
the target levels.
- Low-noise plant has been selected where possible, for
example a water injection piling technique has been used to minimise
- A Sustainable Urban Drainage System shall be installed to
reduce storm-water run-off by more than 50%. The system uses the
rainwater harvesting tank and over sized pipes to store the excess
Biodiversity & Ecology
Ecological enhancement measures for the site include:
implementing good horticultural practice measures;
choosing species that are wildlife friendly;
installation of bird and bat boxes in appropriate location;
installation of a sedum (‘green’) roof over the Entrance building.