Green Numbers Add Up To ‘Excellent’ At Oxford

We don’t imagine that the faculty at Oxford University’s new Mathematical Institute need any help doing the math on the energy savings associated with the green roof slated for their new home on campus. (But if they do, hey, there’s always Portland State University‘s online Green Roof Energy Calculator.) The architect behind the project, Rafael Viñoly, clearly has taken those numbers into account into the design of the new building, which is targeting BREEAM Excellent certification.

BREEAM stands for the BRE Environmental Assessment Method, and was invented by BRE, a building research organisation funded mainly by the government of the U.K. Like the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, it measures a building’s performance in a broad range of categories, including energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transportion, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

Oxford Mathematical Institute at Oxford University

image via Inhabit / Rafael Viñoly

Oxford’s new Mathematical Institute (which comes to us via Inhabitat) is the first of a number of buildings that will make up the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. The idea is to consolidate the various buildings of the math department, formerly scattered around campus, in one central and private location that pays respect to both its environmental and historic context. These buildings will provide working scientists with the privacy to get their work done in peace while also promoting the spirit of collaboration.

Plans for Oxford’s new 262,600-square-foot Mathematical Institute call for two wings joined by a glazed volume. A large atrium with a glazed clerestory will run nearly the length of the building, ushering natural daylight into not just the building’s mezzanine level, but also below-ground to its classrooms and lecture theaters. (Good news for the big brains wrapping their heads around big questions down there, as natural daylighting has been shown to improve student performance [PDF].)

Oxford Mathematical Institute

image via Inhabitat / Rafael Viñoly

Should staff and students tire of toiling in those subterranean classrooms, they can retire to the building’s green roof and terrace (provided the weather cooperates, as rain is common here year round). These green spaces will help to control storm water runoff and improve the building’s overall energy performance while promoting biodiversity on campus. Rainwater and greywater will be captured and recycled to keep the surrounding landscape green.

Temperature control in the building will be aided by vertical louvers designed to protect interior spaces against excess solar gain while reducing the glare associated with direct sunlight. This passive strategy will help to ensure that very little in the way of mechanical intervention will be required to keep the building cool, but when required, a combined cooling and heating system will help to ensure the most bang for the buck on energy use.

The new building– slated for completion in 2013 — will also encourage faculty and student to bike to campus with 500 parking spots exclusively for bicycles.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.