Advanced glazing helps research centre

The recently completed £26m Maxwell Centre is the centrepiece for the University of Cambridge’s physical sciences and engineering industrial engagement activity, and is designed to be used by scientists from commercial organisations and academic research teams.

As part of the goal of providing industry-grade working spaces for occupants, the University of Cambridge wanted the building to deliver cutting edge performance in terms of sustainability, and achieving BREEAM Excellent was a key goal for the project.

Michael Metcalfe, commercial sales manager at Pilkington UK, said: “To be certified as BREEAM excellent, a building needs to score highly across a wide range of criteria including things like water use, health and wellbeing and waste levels.

“However, arguably the most important measurement is energy performance, and Excellent status can’t be awarded to any building that doesn’t achieve a high level of efficiency when tested.

“For a building like this, where the majority of the exterior walls consist of glazing, the choice of glass has a big impact on energy performance, as it’s essential to keep heat inside the building during the colder months and prevent excessive heating during the summer.”

To achieve this, Pilkington Insulight Sun double-glazed units were used throughout the building. These were constructed of an outer 6mm-thick pane of Pilkington Suncool glass and an inner 6mm Pilkington Optifloat Clear inner pane, separated by a 16mm argon-filled cavity.

The Pilkington Suncool glass features an advanced solar-control coating that reduces the amount of solar energy entering a building while maintaining high levels of transparency by selectively filtering out ultraviolet (UV) light. The 50/25 rated glass used in the project reduces overall solar energy entering the building by 50%, but reduces transparency by just 25%.

John Dugan, director at Prism Architectural, said: “The solar control capabilities of the units supplied by Pilkington, combined with leading framing systems from Wicona, has allowed us to implement a solution that offers a strong combination of solar control and insulation to deliver a comfortable interior environment efficiently all year round.”