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Building type:




Project Status:


Gross Area:

2223 Sqm


BREEAM 2008 UK Education Outstanding

Climatic zone:



Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation / 0 © Dave Morris Photography
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation / 0 © Dave Morris Photography
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation / 0 © Dave Morris Photography
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation / 0 © Dave Morris Photography
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation / 0


The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) is a world class interdisciplinary research and teaching facility focusing on key climate related challenges facing society. The ECCI addresses the significance of climate change at the science-society interface and informs political decision making.

The project involved a major alteration and extension of the Category B listed Old High School building, Edinburgh. The brief included consideration of adjoining buildings, and proposals to reinvigorate the land within the High School Yards, to the boundary of Infirmary Street at the front of the Old High School and the enclosed space of Surgeon’s Square to the rear. The brief was to respect, but transform the Old High School in such a way to provide appropriate and flexible space to suit the demands of ECCI’s functional requirements relating to communication and the exchange of ideas, including teaching/seminar space, lecture/conferencing facilities; meeting rooms; staff offices; a Masters student hub and café.


EAA Building of the Year Winner

EAA Wood Award – Finalist

My Place Awards – Commendation

Scottish Design Awards – Education – Winner

Scottish Property Awards – Commercial Buildings – Highly Commended

Civic Trust Awards – Regional Finalist

Retrofit Awards – Finalist


Innovative cooling system

District heating scheme

Sustainable building materials

Low-emitting materials and finishes

High efficient lighting

Occupancy sensors

Environmentally friendly furniture

Electrical charging point for cars

Outdoor view maximised

Waste reduction commitment


ECCI has been designed to achieve an exceptionally low energy demand, in particular given that it is the refurbishment of an existing and listed building. It has been designed with the ambition of achieving BREEAM Outstanding (with Excellent as a minimum). Currently the BREEAM is being assessed by BRE. This would be the first refurbished or listed building to achieve the Outstanding rating.
While there is always a balance between environmental concerns, conservation issues, access and other user requirements, it is possible, with careful consideration, to work with the historic fabric and provide a building which accommodates ‘current day’ user requirements, while acknowledging the importance of sustainable materials and low energy demand. We have endeavoured to look at every detail of which the following are the principle examples:

Location, Reusing and Transport
We need to focus on maintaining and upgrading our existing building stock before creating new. Significantly ECCI is the reuse of an existing building in a historic city centre location. This brings challenges to achieve a ‘state of the art’ building for innovation, but the benefits of reuse in a location where local and national public transport facilities, as well as many relevant organisations, are walkable. ECCI has a very limited car policy, with only accessible parking and an electric car changing point.

Primary + Renewable Energy Supply
District Combined Heat and Power (CHP) allowing 38% decrease in Co2 emissions.
30m2 Photo Voltaic (PV) with feed in tariff. PV is strategically placed only on the south facing sides of the rear building pop ups to the north facing existing rooflights. The building model highlighted these surfaces as collecting the highest level of solar gain on the building.
Air source heat exchanger supplies limited chilled beam cooling to the rooms with greater occupant density (lecture/ immersive teaching spaces).

Energy Efficiency
• Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) A rating for new build areas
• Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) B rating for refurbished areas
• Air tightness improved to 6.5 (m3/h)/m2 at 50Pa
• Existing building fabric insulated to achieve:
Wall 0.25 W/m2K
Floor 0.3 W/m2K
Roof 0.163 W/m2K
Glazing 1.4 W/m2K
• New building fabric insulated to achieve:
Wall 0.13 W/m2K
Floor 0.3 W/m2K
Roof 0.15 W/m2K
Glazing 1.4 W/m2K

Material considerations
Existing sash windows have been retained and repaired with additional draft proofing and installation of slim line double glazed units
The primary structure, inserted within the atrium and to all new construction, is a Cross Laminated Timber frame (CLT) and CLT floor panels system. This was considered an innovative solution using a CLT timber structure within an existing building. The CLT is said to lock in (approx.) 4-5 x more Carbon than it takes to produce. Where steel structure was removed from the existing building, all appropriate steel beams were assessed by the Structural Engineer and many were able to be reused as supports to new openings being formed in the existing masonry.
The existing Cullaloe and Blaxter stone has been carefully and conservatively repaired. The ‘base’ course to new construction is constructed in Cullaloe stone from Fife. Locally sources stone is also used for external landscaping. A local and natural material, stone, when supplied and worked locally, is an exceptionally low energy and durable material which can be repairable and recyclable.
Bronze Cladding:
The upper levels of new construction are Bronze (80% Copper and 20% Tin). Light in weight reduces demand on structure and Copper is a material which itself can be made of up to 80% recycled Copper from telephone wires etc. It is also a durable and a recyclable material.
External and Internal Wall build ups:
The external wall construction is supported by deep composite timber studs. The internal partitions are also timber stud.
Insulation and Vapour Open Construction:
Insulation is a combination of flexible woodfibre batts and rigid fibreboard with an osb airtight layer internally. The wall construction is vapour open, with an internal to external pressure difference to allowing moisture to move from both inside the building, and from within the wall construction, to the outside. This benefits health of users (in relation to asthmatic related conditions internally) and the health of the construction. All external wall construction is specified as low VOC and all timber is FSC.
Internal finishes:
Timber finishes are used to floors, ceilings and many wall linings. Other floors are in lino (from natural sources) and environmentally rated carpet products. All internal products are low VOC and all timber FSC. Paint finishes are waterbased and low VOC and have a especially high breathability to work with the vapour open external wall construction.

The ventilation strategy is primarily passive natural ventilation with displacement air and cooling only to high occupancy rooms (lecture/ immersive teaching). Where chilled beams are used, they are connected to the Air Source Heat Exchanger.

Internal and external lighting is low energy (including LED where appropriate) throughout, with zoned control and sensor to reduce usage. Daylight studies were carried out to maximise natural light and reduce areas of summer overheating.

One of the client’s aspirations is that, as an energy efficient refurbishment, the building can be used as a learning resource in the future in a frank and open manner, to understand what has been successful or not. All energy supplies are therefore metered and submetered in order to monitor lighting, small electric, water, heating, cooling in separate areas of the building. This is monitored using specialist software (Meterology) which can present the information in a suitable and sophisticated manner for analysis. A post occupancy analysis will also be carried out.
Cycle facilities
60 additional covered cycles spaces are provided with associated changing/ showers (including accessible changing/ shower), lockers and drying space.

All sanitary appliances (wcs/ taps) are low water usage. A rainwater harvesting tanks was intended to be installed, until 14 Century archaeology discovered on site inhibited this. A tank to attenuate part of the RWHT was installed. Permeable landscaping and an increase of soft landscaping was also used to divert water.


Energy consumption:

142785.00 KW/m² (45262.607 KBtu/ft²)

Consumption type:


Annual carbon footprint:

46165.00 KgCO2m² (496915.924 KgCO2/ft²)

Climate zone:


Min. temperature =


Max temperature =


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No product info available



University of Edinburgh



Malcolm Fraser Architects


Malcolm Fraser Architects


Energy consultant:

Harley Haddow

Structural Engineer:

Elliott and Company



Graham Construction


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