New Sustainability Design Guide launched

New buildings are a major part of the University’s environmental impact, and significant improvements in this area are needed if it is to achieve its ambitious new target of halving total carbon emissions by 2030. 

The guide covers everything from building fabric to biodiversity, water usage and pollution. The University has moved to the Passivhaus design and construction methodology in its pursuit of excellent building performance, after the previous target of BREEAM Excellent ratings for all major new buildings failed to deliver the expected benefits. Passivhaus - recently mentioned in the Vice-Chancellor's annual Oration - enables the creation of extremely comfortable and energy-efficient buildings, but these benefits depend on very high building quality, with a huge amount of attention given to areas like making a structure air-tight and eliminating thermal bridges that enable heat and cold to bypass insulation.

The updated Sustainability Design Guide was launched at an event in early October, with speakers from recent University projects about their experience of the guide as well as from Oxford City Council and from consultants with extensive experience of working under Passivhaus, who gave an overview of their experience producing a highly energy-efficient new building for another university. If you would like to discuss the guide or anything in it, please contact