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The Student Centre is one of the most energy efficient buildings in Ireland. An allencompassing approach to sustainability has been developed in close collaboration with a team of technical specialists led by Arup. The following key features collectively result in a building which consumes over 33% less energy than similar buildings.

significantly reduces the Student Centre’s dependence on artificial sources. Optimal floor-to-ceiling heights within the Student Centre promote natural daylight penetration and reduce the need for electric lighting during the daytime. Active energy efficiency Two 500kW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants meet a substantial proportion the Student Centre’s thermal and electrical supply needs. Co-generation is among the most efficient options yet invented, in this case using almost 50% less energy that separate heating and power plants would. For example, the considerable exhaust heat from electricity generation is recycled to warm the swimming pool. Specific algorithms have been developed to optimise the plant’s efficiency in response to constantly changing demands, with surpluses exported to UCD’s campus electricity network.

Passive energy efficiency The architects worked closely with specialists to find opportunities to save energy which arise during the Student Centre’s daily use cycle. As much heat from the sun and occupants as possible is retained by high performance glazing and thermal insulation which far exceed official requirements. The roof in particular is designed to retain 33% more heat than regulations require, to minimise heat loss and efficiently preserve a 29°C internal temperature in the pool hall. Roof overhangs and steel mesh screens are used to minimise excessive solar heat ingress during summer while also allowing useful solar gains in Winter and maximising natural lighting.

Low energy, demand-based ventilation systems which incorporate energy recovery are used throughout the Student Centre. All systems employ heat recovery devices to extract useful heat from the outgoing air, and recycle it to preheat fresh air. This technique is particularly effective in the swimming pool hall, which maintains higher internal temperatures than the rest of the Student Centre.

The double glazing on external façades and around the pool was tested for air tightness to further ensure minimal infiltration. The Student Centre achieved an air leakage rate of 3.57(m3/hr)/m2 which bettered the air leakage rate of 5(m3/hr)/m2 required under Part L of the Building Regulations. This

Modern control routines for the Pool air systems optimise the use of outside air for humidity control to minimise energy usage throughout the year. An intelligent lighting control system operates to minimise electricity consumption by the Student Centre’s complex lighting arrangements. A network of occupancy and sunlight sensors adjusts lighting levels based on available daylight and whether the room is occupied. A rainwater harvesting system has been installed to gather rainwater from the Student Centre’s extensive roof. This water is then used for toilet and urinal flushing, which will reduce by half the amount of fresh water needed from the public water supply. Every environmental control in the Student Centre is linked to a central Building Management System which monitors the building’s performance as a whole. This system constantly adjusts internal temperatures in response to climatic and use conditions, and provides statistics on energy consumption. This system further permits future targets for energy reduction to be set.



heat demand


power demand



CHP loss





Power station


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Left The efficiency of the Combined Heat and Power plant versus separate on-grid sources.

Opposite Summary of the design and lifestyle features contributing to the Student Centre’s sustainability.

Profile for Fitzgerald Kavanagh and Partners

A Day in the Life: UCD Student Centre by Fitzgerald Kavanagh and Partners  

A Day in the Life is a simple book about a complex building. The title comes from the body of research which prefaced the new Student Centre...

A Day in the Life: UCD Student Centre by Fitzgerald Kavanagh and Partners  

A Day in the Life is a simple book about a complex building. The title comes from the body of research which prefaced the new Student Centre...