The Library, which won the 2010 RICS Northern Ireland award earlier this year, was chosen over category winners from the other RICS geographic regions across the UK for this prestigious national award.
As one of the judges noted in the announcement, “The new Library is proving an invaluable resource for students at Queen’s University, Belfast. The building achieves excellence on two fronts: in terms of providing essential educational support and through its distinction in sustainability. On both counts, it is an exceptional project.”
The Library has been a statement of environmental responsibility from project outset, when a basic environmental diagram and strategy was developed based on natural ventilation and low energy use. Natural ventilation has minimized the use of mechanical cooling, which is limited to an efficient chilled beam system in a few critical areas. The building’s thermal mass acts as a heat sink, regulating the temperature profile of the internal environment by absorbing heat during the day and releasing it to the space at night. A rainwater harvesting system uses recycled rainwater for toilets, while a complex BMS controls all aspects of the internal environmental conditions from lighting, natural and artificial, to temperature and fresh air levels.
Following its completion, McClay Library received a ‘very good’ rating under BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), a UK rating broadly equivalent to US LEED Silver certification.