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16 January 2019
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University of Bradford
Credit: University of Bradford

9 March 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal


The University of Bradford was named overall winner at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Building Performance Awards 2017 last month.

This was the university’s fourth win in this awards scheme and its second success in the top category. (Back in 2012 the university’s team claimed the Building Performance Champion Award when it was known as the Carbon Champions award.) This year, the team also won the facilities management team Award for the first time.

The university’s department of estates and facilities came out on top for its Ecoversity programme, which has, said judges, enabled “transformational work” on an ageing estates infrastructure over the past decade. This has led to a reduction in the university’s  carbon footprint of 35 per cent, and a cut in utilities costs of 27 per cent, saving £8 million.

City Campus in Bradford is currently the only place in the world where a single estate has three ‘BREEAM Outstanding’ buildings and a Passivhaus (energy standard) building within 100 metres of each other.

Commendation from CIBSE judges also came for the team’s approach to tackling the problems it faces with its large stock of legacy buildings. These date from the 1960s and 70s and had issues such as poor thermal performance, asbestos and large expanses of single glazing. Despite these problems the university has managed to cut its overall utility costs by 27 per cent in a market that has seen prices rise by 90 per cent over the same time period.

Judges also liked the look of the university’s long-term strategy, one that has involved stakeholders from across the campus in its decision making. LED lighting and controls installation, the replacement of  transformers and pumps, engineering and control improvements to the district heating network, expanding the building estate management system and the reviewing and optimising compressed air were all project commended by awards judges.

Speaking to FM World in the days after the awards ceremony, David Stevens, co-vice chair of the CIBSE Facilities Management Group and one of  the awards judges, described the university’s entry as “exceptional”. 

It was, said Stevens, an “inspirational example of teamwork between their projects teams, FMs and users / stakeholders (basically students and staff). They engaged with all of them. They were using estates as a ‘living laboratory’, allowing learning from the Building Management System (BEMS).” 

“The Bradford team have a truly inspirational approach to facilities and sustainability management, and their continued success at the Building Performance Awards is testament to the great work being done out there by facilities managers in all kinds of industries.

“Their active engagement of stakeholders, such as joint ventures with academics, and commitment to sustainable development, evidenced by three BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ buildings and a Passivhaus building, showed true commitment to estate improvement and carbon reduction.” 

Credit: University of Bradford
Credit: University of Bradford

Why did University of Bradford win? 

The University of Bradford has a challenging facilities management landscape because of the greatly varying ages, use patterns and functions of the buildings in its portfolio. In Bradford’s case, most of its stock dates back to the 1960s and 70s, with the attendant problems of asbestos, poor thermal performance, blow air heating and large areas of single glazing.

To counter these issues, the university undertook a comprehensive ‘fabric-first’ renovation programme, including overcladding two 1960s buildings –
a 13-storey 33,940 sq m block and a three-storey 8,500 sq m workshop block. The university also has a number of rolling programmes. 

These include LED lighting and controls installation, replacing transformers and pumps, engineering and control improvements to the district heating network, expanding the BEMS and reviewing and optimising compressed air.

They also include rolling energy audits, identifying water use, a review of air conditioning, consultations with users over operating times, and installation of a second CHP (combined heat and power) generator and optimisation of the existing plant. 

Finally, the university actively discourages the use and installation of comfort cooling across the estate, and has an unswerving focus on providing high-quality natural ventilation. This is overseen by two new building services technicians employed to manage energy use and optimise the estate’s systems on a continuing basis.

Ultimately, the judges’ decision to present the Bradford team with two awards came down to the high-quality data it was able to provide, as well as evidence of a stringent and continually challenging carbon management plan and targets. 

By treating building performance as a key factor in the university’s decision-making process, and involving staff and students in the process to improve occupant behaviours, the team has created a system that goes above and beyond the needs of the institution.