George Thomas Building

The George Thomas building at the University of Southampton houses the University's Student Services, dealing with administration and supporting students.

Passive Measures
Rainwater is harvested and used for flushing toilets, reducing the water consumption from the main water system. Rain that falls onto the roof is filtered and collected in an underground tank. Sustainably sourced timber was used widely throughout the building.
  • Lime mortar was used rather than Portland cement. Lime mortar has many environmental benefits as a construction material, including being:
  • carbon neutral
  • recyclable
  • biodegradable
  • The material also ‘breathes’ naturally, improving the climate of the building.

Technologies Employed
50 square metres of Solar Photovoltaic cells are contained within the glass ceiling of the atrium of the building. The electricity produced provides some of the electricity for the George Thomas Building. The scheme was partly funded by the Dti through the Energy Saving Trust (EST). The cells have proven to be financially and environmentally beneficial; according to the university, around a third of the power used in the building is from solar power.

This aspect of the project was led by University researchers Dr AbuBakr Bahaj and Dr Tomas Markvart. As well as the shading provided by the PV cells in the summer, the building uses the thermal mass of the structure to assist in cooling which has reduced the need for air conditioning, and the associated energy use.

Awards and Achievements
This was designed as an exemplar sustainable office building, and achieved a very high standard of environmental sustainability at a modest construction cost. It continues to attract favourable comment, and was shortlisted for a RIBA award in 2007, having been a runner up in both the HEEPI awards (Highly Commended) and British Council for Offices sustainable office category (2006).

Interesting points to note
In research following the refurbishment of the building, the team from the University of Southampton made the recommendation that managing expectations about the climatic conditions and use of a new building are just as important as incorporating technological features. See the links below for further information. Page last updated: 20 August 2010
The content of this website reflects the author’s views. the Environment Centre (tEC) and the INTERREG IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme Authorities accept no liability for the accuracy of the claims made and any use that may be made of the information contained therein.