Transforming UCL buildings sustainably - new assessment scheme launched at UCL

16th June 2016

Over the past year UCL has been helping to develop a new sustainability assessment scheme for higher education building refurbishment projects. This week that scheme, RICS Ska for higher education, has been launched here at UCL.
Good news for UCL staff and students:
Maintaining a sustainable estate is one of six key enablers to UCL’s 2034 strategy. Refurbishing buildings sustainably reduces our energy costs and improves our environmental credentials but what does this mean for you and your work spaces?
This new scheme places particular emphasis on occupant wellbeing. By using Ska HE on our projects we are designing spaces in exceedance of industry standard criteria around thermal comfort and acoustic performance levels. We also strive to maximise outside views and daylight benefits, improve air quality by using benign paints and finishes and incorporate biodiversity and cycling facilities into projects. Studies have shown that those working in spaces designed in this way generally experience higher levels of productivity and better health.
The scheme is free to use and readily available for all UK higher education establishments and is a powerful tool for encouraging environmental best practice throughout the construction supply chain.
UCL’s Experience:
UCL Estates has been using an existing Ska scheme (designed for office refurbishments) to frame projects for the past two years. We have used this tool in the design of several high profile projects such as 66 – 72 Gower Street and the new Canary Wharf School of Management at 1 Canada Square. However, this scheme is very much tailored to office buildings, not taking into account higher education-specific facilities such as labs, libraries and lecture theatres.
The UCL Sustainability Team contributed to the development of the new Ska scheme which has been specifically tailored to ensure that all aspects of HE spaces are fully addressed. Highlights of Ska HE include promoting campus-wide sustainable thinking into all our construction projects, particularly around materials and waste; and rewarding projects for reusing equipment and resources throughout construction. In addition, projects will gain points for incorporating energy efficient lighting, water efficient taps and showers and procuring environmentally friendly and ethical products.

UCL Estates will be using the new Ska HE tool on minor refurbishment and fit-out works to ensure that we continue to reduce the impact of our buildings, improve the student and staff experience and work towards hitting our ambitious environmental targets.
UCL Sustainability Team
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