Preparing for a sustainable new building

COMET South view

Landscaping works are due to take place on Treforest Campus later this month in preparation for the start of the build for the new Computing, Maths, Engineering and Science building, which is scheduled to get underway later this year.

During this initial stage, a number of trees will be felled around the perimeter of the build site. Whilst most of the trees in this area will remain, some are being felled due to poor health, and some are being removed to enable the build works to begin. These works are being undertaken during the week commencing 19 February and are expected to be completed within three days.

The works will be largely self-contained however some routes near Ty Crawshay, the entrance of B Block, and Central Avenue will be partially affected at certain points to ensure the safety of the surrounding area is maintained.

The wood from the felled trees will be reused on the Campus in a variety of ways:

  • As wood chip to reinforce the woodland walk path on the campus
  • To create log piles to support different insects, provide a refuge and hunting ground for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and shelter for over-wintering and hibernating wildlife
  • To create bug hotels for insects and pollinators such as bees as a sanctuary/temporary home

It is also hoped that some logs can be used for student projects, such as the creation of sculptures.

The University’s Biodiversity Group has been consulted on the proposals, and helped to identify ideas for reuse of wood generated from the felling.

New landscaping to be introduced

As the works for the new building progress, new landscaping will be introduced in this area of the Campus. This will include the introduction of new trees, shrubs, hedges, grass, and wildflowers to provide vibrant green spaces around the building, promoting sustainability and biodiversity. The new trees being planted will include native species, and will be supported by ornamental planting, flowering perennials, and a green roof on the building itself.

The mix of native and nectar rich planting for trees and flowering species aims to also increase the number of animal species present on campus, helping to increase the overall biodiversity of the area.

This is in addition to other planting initiatives in recent years, including the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting in 2022, where more than 80 trees were planted across USW’s estate.

Sustainability as a core strategic principle of the development

Sustainability is a core strategic principle for the project and the project team has developed a strategy that weaves sustainability throughout all elements of the new building. The focus has been on designing a building that:

  • Ensures future flexibility for different uses, with climate adaptability and resilience
  • Ensures environmental operational sustainability (i.e., low operating costs/energy costs)
  • Is tech enabled and future-proofed

To minimise the building’s overall energy usage and CO2 emissions a three-stage approach has been adopted for the design of the building and its associated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

  1. Passive Design – reducing the need for energy in the first instance through structural design, such as minimising internal areas requiring mechanical ventilation, minimising direct solar gain and using the mass of the structure to reduce overheating.
  2. Active Design – supplying energy efficiently and recovering energy wherever practical, such as using high efficiency lighting systems and LED lighting, having local control of heating systems to prevent overheating, and using low velocity pipework and ductwork where possible to reduce fan and pump power consumption.
  3. Use of renewable technologies including generating solar power from photovoltaic panels on the roof, using air source heat pumps and a hybrid ventilation system to maximise natural ventilation where possible.

Consideration has also been given to the materials that will be used for the structural frame, as well as the design of the building to maximise natural light coming into the building, but trying to prevent space from overheating.

The designs are currently being considered by the local authority and subject to planning permission being granted, construction of the building will get underway later this year and take approximately two years to complete.