World leading GBP10 million carbon innovation centre takes shape

L-R: Andy Kerr, Executive Director ECCI; Steve Chapman, Principal Heriot-Watt University; Nigel Brown, Senior Vice Principal University of Edinburgh; Brendan McGuckin, Head of Commercialisation Napier University; Calum Duncan, Malcolm Fraser Architects.

Building work has commenced on the stunning £10 million hothouse designed to push Scotland to the global forefront of low carbon innovation and executive education.

The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), of which Heriot-Watt is a partner,  aims to be a worldwide focal point for low carbon experts and networks from business, finance and the public sector coming together to deliver a low carbon future.

Contractor GRAHAM Construction has just started erecting the innovative timber frame of the 2333 square metre building being created on the site of Edinburgh's historic Old High School in High School Yards, which counts famous figures such as Sir Walter Scott among its former pupils. The project involves refurbishing and remodelling the space to deliver a cutting-edge innovation suite, lecture theatres, seminar rooms and exhibition and social areas.

The ECCI is hosted by the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University and seeks to create an environment where new world-changing low carbon solutions can be developed and where organisations learn how to survive and thrive in the low carbon economy.

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, said, "This is an exciting development underpinning an equally exciting partnership between our institutions, producing key solutions to the challenges of living in a low carbon environment.

"This partnership builds on the work our universities are already undertaking in this and related areas, and I am delighted to join colleagues in celebrating a building which will truly tie in with the ideals the ECCI is here to promote."

This partnership builds on the work our universities are already undertaking in this and related areas, and I am delighted to join colleagues in celebrating a building which will truly tie in with the ideals the ECCI is here to promote.

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University

Innovative building design

An innovative approach to design and construction could also see the ECCI become the first refurbished building in the world to achieve the industry sustainability BREEAM standard of Outstanding. In making their designation decisions, BREEAM considers elements such as waste, pollution, land use and ecology, materials, management, health & wellbeing, energy, transport, water and an imaginative approach. Features such as using harvested rainwater for use in the flushing of WCs, solar controlled glazing in the windows to keep occupants cool and remove the need for air conditioning and underfloor heating will all contribute to a 30% saving in energy consumption over the building's former performance.

As well as GRAHAM, the team behind the project include award-winning architects Malcolm Fraser Architects and mechanical and electrical consulting engineers Harley Haddow. Lead Architect Malcolm Fraser said: "The ECCI project has been designed to an exceptionally high level of sustainability; we are aiming to achieve a minimum of BREEAM Excellent with an aspiration to achieve BREEAM Outstanding. If achieved this would be the first refurbishment project in the UK to achieve this - which will provide a groundbreaking exemplar of how our current building stock can be adapted to reduce our energy demands and carbon emissions in the future."

Building due to open in 2013

The ECCI is expected to be completed and opened in summer 2013.   ECCI Executive Director Andy Kerr said: "It gives me real pleasure and a tremendous sense of achievement to see the High School Yards building and ECCI reach this latest milestone.  Since I took charge nearly 2 years ago ECCI has grown from a really good idea into a burgeoning organisation with a team of 13. We've worked with businesses, governments, academics, students and communities from all over the world and are well on our way to delivering our ambitious plans. This highly innovative, low carbon approach to the refurbishment of High School Yards is symbolic of all the work that ECCI has already been doing and we are really looking forward to moving into our famous and historic new home to continue that good work next year."