Passivhaus Affiliate

RAD building close to completion


The Trust recently visit the University of Nottingham’s new Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) building, which is tantalisingly close to completion and targeting both BREEAM & Passivhaus Standard. When certified, it will become the largest working Passivhaus laboratory in the UK.

RAD building ©Yogini Patel

RAD building nearing completion Image ©Yogini Patel, Passivhaus Trust

The 2500m2 centre will provide state of the art facilities for research and testing as part of the Energy Research Accelerator initiative. The flash of red at the RAD entrance echoes the colour found in a growing campus of iconic buildings at the University of Nottingham.

RAD building ©Yogini Patel RAD building ©Yogini Patel
RAD building ©Yogini Patel RAD building ©Yogini Patel

RAD building exterior ©Yogini Patel, Passivhaus Trust

RAD building atrium iso ©Lewis & HickeySeveral speakers spoke on the design and construction challenges faced with delivering the project successfully. Only just beginning to become occupied, the building will eventually house leading UK academics working together with business to accelerate the introduction of new technologies in the energy sector from harvesting & storing wind energy to new materials for hydrogen storage. Laboratories are clustered towards the south of the building, while office research spaces are predominantly located to the north, giving the building a natural split. The building tour gave us an opportunity to see:

  • Flexible laboratory spaces
  • Office space for researchers
  • 2 plant rooms
  • Central atrium with a 4-storey green wall and break-out spaces to encourage discussion & exploration of ideas.


RAD building ©MIES Building Services
RAD building ©Ashley Roberts
RAD building lab space ©Yogini Patel
RAD building ©MIES Building Services

Delegates learned that the £5.4m scheme retrospectively added the Passivhaus target after initial designs were complete following a design & build competitive tender process. The proposed form was relatively efficient, however, there was a decrease in scale and a significant reduction in the building footprint.

It was great to hear that a previous Passivhaus Student Competition winner, Mario Andres Guamami Rodrigues had modelled the proposed building, analysing daylight and energy consumption, which influenced the final design.

RAD Modelling


Aiming for Passivhaus after initial designs were completed proved a further challenge for the delivery team, as this was the first Passivhaus for many, and who all needed to collaborate and innovate the design detailing and construction sequencing. All the team used Revit, which made innovation and changes to the design to occur much easier.


Architects Key Lessons

  • Passivhaus focuses on actual prescribed energy use rather than generic standards for the building type. The Standard provides very clear rigorous targets that can be measured. As such the compliance parameters for a Passivhaus place a much greater onerous on both the design team and sitework quality control to deliver the desired outcomes. PHT member, Etude who are acting Passivhaus consultants, have been invaluable in helping deliver these targets.
  • Consider the airtightness barrier from the outset and design out potential penetrations where possible. (Especially steelwork junctions in this case!)
  • Think about thermal bridging, not just at window details, but also the substructure as well. It’s the connections that cause the issues.
  • Remember to design details for ease of construction access. If you cant get a hand in, you will struggle to seal it.
  • Try to get the earliest engagement of all key design disciplines in a workshop environment and avoid typical sequential design processes where possible.
  • Passivhaus principles are not a nicety – they are a necessity that all buildings should consider. 


Key Team 

RAD building ©Yogini Patel

Client: The University of Nottingham

Architect: Lewis & Hickey

M & E Consultants: Crouch Perry Wilkes & MIES Building Services

Project Management: AECOM

Passivhaus Consultants: Etude

Energy modelling: Greenlite Energy Assessors

Contractor: Robert Woodhead Ltd

Structural Engineer: BWB Consulting

Passivhaus CertifierWARM 

Unless otherwise stated, all image credits ©Yogini Patel, Passivhaus Trust


Further Information

Previous PHT story: RAD building has Passivhaus ambitions – 16 May 2017

Selection of Presentations from the June 2018 site visit:

RAD Building event provides unique insight into Passivhaus process - 30th November 2017

11th June 2018

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