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Centre for Medicine, University of Leicester, UK

Ancon Teplo, a range of innovative basalt-fibre wall ties, virtually eliminates thermal bridging in the highly insulated external masonry walls of the UK’s largest non-residential PassivHaus building.

© Martine Hamilton Knight

Originally conceived as a zero-carbon development, the University of Leicester’s £42 million Centre for Medicine was upgraded to the more demanding PassivHaus standard. This widely recognised energy performance standard utilises a fabric-first approach, relying on a very high level of thermal efficiency in the external envelope to minimise energy demands and provides a stable and comfortable internal environment.

One of the largest investments in medical training and applied research by any UK University, the 12,800sq.m centre is four times larger than any previous PassivHaus project in the UK, and presented a series of unique detailing and construction challenges for designers Associated Architects and main contractor Willmott Dixon.

Designed to accommodate almost 2,400 students and staff, the building is topped with a series of blocks that vary in heights from 3 to 6 storeys. External walls on the ground and first level are built with traditional brick-and-block with a highly insulated 300mm cavity, with the upper floors clad in lightweight curtain walling.

Incorporating typical commercial project detailing, such as full storey-height windows, has placed an additional requirement on opaque areas to meet even higher standards of thermal performance to compensate.

Ancon Teplo Range of Low Conductivity Wall Ties

Already widely proven in other low energy and PassivHaus UK developments, Ancon’s Teplo wall ties, the most thermally efficient on the market, were chosen for their ultra-low thermal conductivity of just 0.7W/mK, which virtually eliminates cross-cavity thermal transfer, allowing these repeating insulation bridges to be disregarded in EN ISO 6946 thermal calculations.

Manufactured from basalt fibres set within a unique resin matrix, these innovative high strength ties are available to suit cavities up to 450mm wide, making them perfect for the super-insulated cavities typical of PassivHaus buildings.

Specialist contractor, Keith Walton Brickwork, who was responsible for constructing the highly insulated, airtight external walls, installed over 6,000 Teplo cavity wall ties to join the brick and block leaves and over 4,000 Teplo-L ties which feature a stainless steel upstand to tie masonry to the in-situ structural frame.

Ancon’s Head of Marketing and Innovation, Annabelle Wilson, said “This is another first for our multi-award winning Teplo range. Our innovative basalt-fibre wall ties were chosen for the first ever certified PassivHaus to be built in the UK using traditional cavity wall construction, the first zero-carbon retrofit to achieve Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, and now the largest non-residential PassivHaus.”

As well as being a certified PassivHaus, the Centre for Medicine is also rated BREEAM Excellent.

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