University of the West of Scotland


Project lead
Leanne McMillan, BRE Scotland


Key Project Team Members

Architect: RMJM Architects

Contractor: Lend Lease

M&E Engineer: ACTS


BREEAM Excellent, Shared facilities, Modernisation, University Campus


Project Description

University of the West of Scotland's new £81 million Ayr Campus, which opened in August 2011, creates a truly innovative learning environment for students. The campus, which was developed by UWS in partnership with Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), is situated on the Craigie Estate, next to the River Ayr.


Developed in consultation with Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the new Campus provides Ayrshire with one of the UK's most modern, environmentally friendly and sustainable Higher Education learning environments. The campus design was inspired by the area's woodland surroundings and offers students a stunning space for study with some of Scottish higher education's finest facilities with suites, studios and laboratories for performance, music, broadcasting, education and healthcare. The new 17,835m2 building has been developed around an ambitious brief which included:

·         a student-run digital radio station 

·         its own lively student union, with an excellent events and entertainment schedule

·         a library housing an impressive range of resources and facilities

·         a range of student services featuring careers and funding advice; job shop; counselling; and disability support

·         access to extensive riverside walkways and cycle paths.


Sustainability was considered as a key driver throughout the project process.


Sustainability / BREEAM

The University and project team were committed to secure BREEAM ‘Excellent' Design Stage and Post Construction Stage ratings from an early stage in the project. This was voluntarily targeted by the team from project inception, however, at a later point in the process Scottish Funding Council (SFC) added this as a formal funding condition.

Energy and Resources

One of the key project drivers was the high energy costs associated with ‘old' UWS campus, which was a significant drain on resources.

In response to this, the use of biofuel boilers, energy efficient systems and significantly improved building fabric performance levels (around a 30% improvement on building regulations at that time) enable the University to achieve a significant reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emission levels.

Heating / Ventilation


The new building makes use of bio fuel rapeseed oil boilers to deliver space heating. The bio fuel boilers feed wall mounted radiator panels, typically found on the perimeter of the teaching spaces that would allow occupants to manually adjust the temperature settings via the Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs). The setpoint temperature in the majority of occupied spaces is controlled centrally via the Building Energy Management System and can be adjusted from zone to zone.

The concrete structural frame provides substantial thermal mass and promotes free cooling strategies and should help to regulate the internal temperature levels by absorbing excess heat during the day time and slowly releasing this during the cooler, night time period. Fresh air is delivered to the building via a pressurised floor vent system and can also assist with cooling requirements as well as promoting desirable air exchange rates.

Natural Light / Lighting

The design also exploits passive solar gain through the high level of external glazing. The risk of glare has been managed by installing external timber louvers.

The building benefits from an intelligent lighting system that has been zoned and installed in accordance with the individual requirements of each of the operational spaces. The lighting has been specified in accordance with CIBSE best practice guides both internally and externally. Internally, daylight sensors and occupancy detection devices have also been installed in a number of occupied areas to help ensure that artificial lighting levels are not surplus to requirements, thus reducing the environmental impact and reducing the energy consumption where possible.

Lighting has been zoned by area and occupant control panels are provided to allow users to adjust levels and arrangements as required. The level of control and zoning varies from space to space depending on the complexity of requirements.

Initial Feedback

Initial feedback from the project team and building users has been positive. The building has facilitated communication and close partnership working. Both representatives from UWS and SRUC confirmed that the new building and access to shared services promotes and helps to support the new working partnership.

Both staff and students now enjoy being able to benefit from the enhanced onsite facilities, and now have access to a variety of social, study, IT and teaching spaces and enjoy spectacular views out to the River Ayr and around their ecologically enhanced site. The new building benefits from a significant amount of natural light, which the users reported as creating a bright, uplifting space. The building users describe the building as modern with a variety of flexible spaces and facilities that are well utilised by occupants.

Key Performance Indicators

·         Floor Area: 17,835 m2

·         BREEAM: Excellent (Design Stage and Post Construction Stage)

·         EPC: B

·         Thermal Performance:

o    Roof: 0.17 W/m2K

o    Floor: 0.18 W/m2K

o    External Wall 0.21 W/m2K

Windows: 1.42 W/m2K