Cambridge institute plans ‘world’s first’ in sustainable office refits

Is the most sustainable building the one that already exists? A joint team from Cambridge University and architects BDP believe they are on the brink of a breakthrough

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has announced the start of renovation works on its new headquarters, the Entopia Building, incorporating measures that are said to go far beyond the current standard for sustainable buildings.

Hailed as a ‘world first’ for a retrofitted sustainable office building, the works aim to set new standards for low-energy use, carbon emissions and impact on natural resources, as well as user experience and wellbeing, measured against multiple benchmarks.

As part of a collaborative team approach, multi-disciplinary design practice BDP is providing building services engineering, sustainability and interior design services for the new headquarters. According to the architects, the retrofitted 1930s telephone exchange in Cambridge will be transformed over the next ten months into an ultra-low carbon sustainability hub and new home for CISL, as it scales up business, government and academic leadership, collaboration and innovation.

Highly energy efficient

The Entopia Building aims to be an international exemplar for sustainable office retrofits, demonstrating how an existing office building can be made highly energy efficient in its redevelopment and use, while supporting the enhanced wellbeing of staff and visitors.

The building will also provide a base for the Institute’s digital learning programmes, which reach more than 4000 executives each year through remote learning. High-tech video conferencing facilities and collaborative digital platforms will enable its network of 16,000 alumni, fellows and associates to collaborate and engage with its work remotely.

BDP principal James Hepburn explains: ‘The Entopia Building is set to be the most significant project of its type in the UK – proving that the most sustainable building is one that already exists. The measures we’re incorporating go far beyond standard sustainable buildings, and the integrated and collaborative approach to design, operation and management from all stakeholders will undoubtedly result in a truly efficient, world-class facility.

‘This project is an exemplar for sustainable building refurbishment…’

‘We continue to explore environmentally progressive ways of designing buildings using natural, low-carbon materials and engineering the most efficient building services. This project is an exemplar for the evolution of sustainable building refurbishment approaches in the UK.’

Dame Polly Courtice, founder director of CISL, adds:  ‘Our aim is to create a highly collaborative and sustainable workspace to bring together Cambridge’s academic and innovation communities with our network of companies and sustainability leaders to accelerate solutions to global sustainability challenges.”

Andrew Sansom is editorial director of SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange
Find exclusive content in the


Premium content for Global Partners, Corporate and Community Members.
The latest analysis and commentary on the future of work and workplace in four distinct themes: Research & Insights, Case Studies, Expert Interviews and Trend Publications.