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The Enterprise Centre at University of East Anglia selected for COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion

Following an international open call, The Enterprise Centre is among 17 exemplary sustainable projects to feature in Build Better Now, a virtual reality online exhibition demonstrating the opportunities for tackling the climate emergency and limiting the environmental impact of the buildings and cities we inhabit. Build Better Now will act as a global call for climate action and is supported by a coalition of more than 100 partner organisations from the built environment industry.

The Enterprise Centre is probably the UK's greenest commercial building. It has set the benchmark for future sustainable development across the globe and has changed the way the industry thinks about engineering and construction. Alongside Architype as architect and Morgan Sindall as contractor, we engineered this exemplar low carbon building to achieve two of the most rigorous sustainable built environment standards possible. The project was designed to achieve a 100 year lifespan and exemplifies the use of low embodied carbon materials. Use of local materials and construction was maximised to stimulate the local economy and traditional skills.

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The built environment has a central role to play in supporting the world’s transition to a net zero carbon economy. Globally, buildings consume over a third of energy produced, and are responsible for 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions.

In recognition of the importance of the built environment sector in tackling climate change, the UN’s Climate Conference COP26 will feature a dedicated Built Environment Day as part of its presidency programme. Climate change has never been higher on the global public agenda and Build Better Now has been curated to give the sector a strong voice within this internationally significant event.

Following the open call, which was launched in June 2021, a rigorous and transparent selection process was undertaken to find projects for the exhibition. A judging panel comprising industry leaders from across the world, with insight into the complexities of built environment sustainability issues on a regional and local level, selected projects that are making an immediate positive impact on the planet and people’s lives. These projects are both scaleable and replicable - giving the potential to deliver far-reaching impacts. Exploring themes such as natural resource use, climate mitigation and adaptation and nature and biodiversity, Build Better Now will showcase some of the most innovative solutions from across the globe.

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The Enterprise Centre is the first large-scale building to achieve both Passivhaus Certification and BREEAM Outstanding, two of the highest eco standards a building can meet. As a result, it is one of the UK’s most sustainable buildings. It has an annual predicted 443kgCO2e/m2 emissions over the 100 year cycle and has recently achieved an in-use DEC A rating for the sixth year in a row.

Engineering director Malachy McNamara said: “What makes The Enterprise Centre so special is how the build process enabled local, sustainable trades and material suppliers to develop and expand their knowledge to enhance the reduction of embodied carbon in the project. The UK is the second largest net importer of timber in the world but also has significant local forests that, with support and engagement, have the potential to improve supply to the local construction industry.  From the competition-winning design, this building was going to be different and it has set the benchmark for positive, collaborative, sustainable supply of local materials, offsite construction and low-carbon engineering. We are so proud that our work is reflected in the UKGBC’s exhibition for COP26.”

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at the UK Green Building Council, said: “With COP26 in November, the world is ready to tackle climate change and the built environment has a crucial part to play. We know why we must accelerate climate action and Build Better Now shows how we can get there. Everyone on the planet has a stake in our buildings and cities. I invite everyone to take inspiration from Build Better Now as a global showcase of pioneering solutions to climate change and hope that it supports the industry to create more sustainable buildings, places and cities of the future.”

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Design by Aecom

Alongside the exhibition, Build Better Now will host an events series comprising a programme of tours and talks, keynotes, panel discussions and other downloadable content, to educate and inspire the built environment industry and public to act now to identify and deliver climate solutions at scale.

The COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion has been designed and developed by the Visualisation and VR team at AECOM in collaboration with exhibition designers Install Archive.

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