Our buildings & estate

The University’s estate comprises a huge range of building types, styles and ages. We are proud to use the breathtaking historic Grade 1 listed Greenwich Maritime buildings dating from the 17th Century through to the Victorian Mansion site and its spectacular Winter Garden at Avery Hill, the beautiful and peaceful Edwardian ex Royal Navy site at Medway campus and the shiny, new and super sustainable Stockwell Street and Daniel Defoe developments that opened in September 2014 and the £27m refurbishment of our Grade 2 listed Dreadnought Building that opened in September 2018.

Each building provides its own challenges for sustainability. The variety of the estate and some of the protections they have mean the integration of sustainability can be difficult, though not always impossible. All buildings are monitored for their water and energy use and all have had significant investments made to reduce key impacts. All new buildings and refurbishments over £5m are required to meet at least BREEAM ‘Very Good’ (if refurbishment) and Excellent and an EPC B rating standard (if new build). They also have to ensure they can effectively adapt to the future impacts of climate change.

Stockwell Street provides a great example of how the University has made a commitment to sustainability through its £80m investment in a new BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated building. This building, built on a ‘brownfield site’, was designed to be highly energy and water efficient. It also has 14 landscaped roofs that cover the equivalent of 12 tennis courts, providing a wide range of teaching, learning and growing spaces and areas for biodiversity.

All recent building projects have been refurbishments of existing buildings, upgrading them to meet the varied and changing needs of our stakeholders. This approach enables us to maintain much of the interesting character of our estate and also ensures that we can reduce the sustainability impacts of building new. Recent examples include the Dreadnought Student Hub in Greenwich, the Student Hub in Medway and the Sports Sciences relocation at Sparrows Farm.

We seek to ensure that our estates are as user friendly as possible and you will find our campuses, particularly the areas for learning and teaching are peaceful as they either have pedestrian priority being ‘walking campuses‘ or have speed restrictions and clear delineation between pedestrians and vehicles.

We seek to ensure we can provide spaces buildings that are accessible for all users, although there are challenges particularly in our Grade 1 listed scheduled monument buildings.  With the redevelopment and renewal of our estate we are making our buildings more accessible and where this is not yet possible ensuring through our room booking and engagement with our less able students we are able to provide a teaching environment to meet their learning needs.

We also offer free public access to many parts of our estates including the Steven Lawrence and Heritage galleries and the historic grounds of the Greenwich maritime estate in Greenwich and also the Winter Garden at our Mansion site on the Avery Hill campus.

The opportunities for student and staff research projects is significant. The University is keen to make available its data, for example on our energy metering information. We can engage students to identify further ways we can manage and reduce our energy and carbon use. Research on how we use buildings and systems and how we can influence more sustainable behaviours provides useful, interesting and rewarding opportunities for both student and staff. Potential funding for estate based projects that deliver sustainability benefits mean staff and students can consider their environments and develop innovative solutions to existing sustainability challenges.  Contact the SDU to find out how you can use the estate as a ‘living lab’ or contact them for the project proposal form.

University of Greenwich Sustainability Blog