UCL News


Student Centre keeps its cool during record-breaking temperatures

1 August 2019

The Student Centre performed excellently throughout the London heatwave, helping provide UCL students with a pleasant environment for working and studying.

Student Centre

The Student Centre has been one of the most comfortable buildings on campus during the recent hot weather.

This is particularly impressive because the building doesn’t have air conditioning – instead, it is cooled by a sustainable system, using deep bore holes which keep cool air circulating within the building. In effect, the buillding maximises the use of natural ventilation as far as possible.

Fresh air is provided via floor level vents and is drawn up through the atrium at high level where heat can also be extracted to help reduce energy bills during the cooler seasons.

A ‘passive first’ approach to building design also resulted in highly efficient building fabric which helps to regulate the internal temperatures. For example, the exposed concrete surfaces provide high levels of ‘thermal mass’ which absorbs heat during the daytime, gradually releasing it when the surroundings are cooler.

Additional ‘free cooling’ is also provided using a ground source borehole system: water is extracted from an aquifer 120m below the building and connected to cooling pipes embedded in the concrete floor slabs.

Finally, when temperatures are more moderate during the spring and autumn, the windows open automatically to ventilate the building and prevent overheating, whilst also eliminating the need for mechanical ventilation.

These sustainable measures are only some of the many factors which helped the Student Centre achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating earlier this year. In total, only 320 buildings globally have achieved BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ to date.