Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - West Downs Centre

23 March 2022

Net Zero sponsored by Willmott Dixon

Photo Credit: Design Engine Architects

West Downs Centre (submitted by Ridge and Partners LLP)

Net Zero Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 finalist

The flagship West Downs Centre, which opened in September 2021, was commissioned as a highly sustainable and wellbeing-friendly cultural hub for the University of Winchester. The state-of-the-art building, designed by Design Engine Architects, includes a 250-seat auditorium, a library, social learning areas, teaching spaces, an art gallery, a café, a zero-waste shop and a food hall.

The university takes sustainability very seriously; it was essential that the project team engaged with the BREEAM requirements of the project early on to meet the university’s ambitions. The Ridge Sustainability team ran workshops with the project team to identify materials and waste reduction opportunities from the outset, and to consider some of the more challenging BREEAM issues. Due to this early engagement, the building is on track to achieve BREEAM “Excellent” certification. All electricity to the building is from renewable sources.

The project has created additional tree planting, hedges and wildflowers, re-establishing a green edge to the site next to the main road. The planting is mostly native and designed to enhance biodiversity. There are also bat and bird boxes installed.

The building is also targeting a WELL Building Standard score of Platinum. Ridge is working with the university and other stakeholders with the aim of this being the first WELL-certified university building in the UK. Wellbeing features include a contemplation space, healthy food options, access to nature through the courtyard garden, landscaped areas to encourage outdoor use and reduced harmful buildings emissions, including air and water testing. In addition, many workstations have adjustable height sit-stand desks.

The scheme contractor, Osborne, is part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme and its Code of Considerate Practice applied to the development. The Code commits those sites, companies and suppliers registered with the scheme to care about appearance, respect the community, protect the environment, secure everyone’s safety and value their workforce. 23 apprentice/trainee positions were created for the scheme while SME suppliers accounted for 70%, and local businesses 65%, of the project spend.

Key achievements:

  • The West Downs Centre is on track to receive BREEAM Excellent certification; it is also targeting a WELL Building Standard score of Platinum, and is set to become the first WELL-certified university building in the UK.

  • Building services solutions included a combined heat and power plant (with ability to connect to other buildings in the future), heat recovery systems, a photovoltaic array, a large and biodiverse green roof, rainwater harvesting, an integrated building management system, audiovisual systems and site wide Wi-Fi. All electricity to the building is from renewable sources.

  • The University of Winchester is the first university in the UK to secure green finance for campus development, with a £30 million loan from Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank, for the new building.


  • Client: University of Winchester
  • Project partners: Ridge and Partners, Design Engine Architects, Osborne

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.


Find more about:

Ridge and Partners (Twitter and LinkedIn)

University of Winchester (Twitter and LinkedIn)

Design Engine Architects (Twitter and LinkedIn)

Osborne (Twitter and LinkedIn)


About the Net Zero Award (sponsored by Willmott Dixon): 

High environmental and climate performance in construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. It seeks to limit impact on the natural environment and demonstrate whole life sustainability. It is most effective when organisational culture, high design quality, technical innovation and transferability are abundant. More info.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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