Architects create ‘world’s most sustainable listed building’ in Edinburgh

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ARCHITECTS designing the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation say it is on course to become the world’s most sustainable listed building.

Leading Scottish architect firm Malcolm Fraser is transforming the Old High School off the Cowgate from a draughty but historically valuable 18th century building into a worldleader in sustainable building.

Instead of the latest all-singing, all-dancing gadgets which typically send developers’ budgets through the roof, the architects and building firm Graham Construction are using an approach which seems to owe more to TV’s Blue Peter than to Grand Designs.

One of the key features of the centre will be the application of sticky tape to seal window frames.

It is one of several measures which are actually far more innovative than they look at first glance.

Project chiefs claim that on paper the centre is already the most sustainable listed or refurbished building in the world.

If all goes to plan during the main building phase, which has just begun, it will become the first ever development of its kind to achieve “outstanding” rating from BREEAM, the world’s leading sustainability rating system for the built environment.

The lofty ambition fits the purpose of the £10m centre, being developed by the universities of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt as a national hub for work tackling climate change.

Project architect Calum Duncan said: “People looking at it will not be able to see that it is a worldclass energy efficient building. A building doesn’t need to look like a spaceship to be energy efficient, but people tend to think that it does.

“It’s really important for sustainability not to lose energy. This is a category B listed building which is draughty and leaky so we need to make the new and existing parts airtight.

“There’s a lot of sticky tape involved and airtight membranes....(which are) developing technologies. The tape is more sophisticated that it sounds, but it is not a ‘look at me’ technology.

He added: “There are actually a great deal of developing technologies that are used, but they are not necessarily obvious or particularly glamorous.”

At £10m the buillding is not cheap, but taking a longterm 100 year view Mr Duncan believed it was “very cost effective”.

Graham Construction is using Cullalo sandstone from Fife and installing high nectar hanging baskets to attract bees and butterflies.