Thomas Paine Study Centre, UEA (Norwich)

The Study Centre (circled) has noticeably cooler surface temperatures than most buildings on the site in this thermal image, showing superior insulation.

Project lead
Benedict Binns, Centre for the Built Environment, University of East Anglia

Building type, sector and stage
Non-domestic new build, education building in operation, six months into study. East of England.

Termodeck, thermal mass, Building Management System, night cooling, daylighting, displacement ventilation

The Thomas Paine Study Centre is a three-storey academic building with a large plant room on the roof. It has a large lecture theatre, seminar rooms and offices, providing accommodation for around 1200 staff and students. It is similar to the celebrated Elizabeth Fry Building, which achieved exemplary energy consumption and occupant satisfaction.

The Study Centre has a concrete frame and uses the Termodeck system for ventilation, with supply air driven through hollow-core floor slabs. This pre-warms incoming air in winter or cools it in summer, helping to ensure stable temperatures with low energy use. There is displacement ventilation in seminar rooms, where cool air enters near the floor and leaves through ceiling grills.

It was built in two Phases: Phase 1 (with a large lecture theatre, seminar rooms and an executive education suite) which is around 3,300m2, and Phase 2 (mainly offices) which is around 1,100m2. Phase 1 was occupied in September 2009, and Phase 2 was occupied from June 2010.

The building is the latest in a series of ostensibly similar buildings, and like others in the series, it has a white rendered façade and overhanging sections on the first floor. It has conventional windows on the ground floor and simple, continuous bands of glazing on the first and second floors, providing good daylighting.

The building has super-insulated walls, floor, roof and windows – with triple glazed windows. On paper, it should be comfortable with minimal heating or cooling energy use.

It is linked to the University's combined heat, cooling and power system. A biomass gasifier is being added to the system to reduce the carbon intensity of the energy, but this is still being commissioned.

The building an exceptional number of installed meters and sensors – some 260 – linked to the Building Management System. Initially there were some problems arc hiving data from the meters, but these are now resolved.

A comprehensive survey of occupant satisfaction found that the building scored above average for almost everything. Overall it was in the top 10% of more than 100 buildings surveyed. The only significant weakness was for noise.

Key performance indicators - Thomas Paine Study Centre
Floor area (GIA) 4,428m2
Air permeability* Phase 1: 4.8 m3/m2/h@50Pa / Phase 2: 3.9 m3/m2/h@50Pa
Measured electricity use 74.9 kWh/m2/y
Measured thermal energy use** Heating 38.4 kWh/m2/y
Cooling 9.0 kWh/m2/y
EPC Rating A
Out-turn cost/m2 *** Phase 1: £3,665/m2
Phase 2: £3,909/m2


*During construction, with a temporary seal between phases 1 and 2
**Estimated from ten months' monitoring
***Including furniture, IT, contingencies and VAT