On Friday, March 31, Howard Group topped out Building A1 at Unity Campus, at a ceremony attended by 150 guests. 

The milestone in the construction of its Phase 2 buildings at Unity Campus by embedding a time capsule containing, amongst other items, a chamois leather – in recognition of the site’s heritage as a former tannery – into the concrete floor of the plant roof of Building A1.

Building A1, which at 32,603 sq ft, is the largest of the three wet lab buildings currently under construction.

After a brief welcome and introduction by Nicholas Bewes, Howard Group’s chief executive officer, a small topping out party made its way to the top floor to embed the time capsule, leaving the remaining guests to hear more about the past and present of the Campus from Unity campus’ interim director, Jeanette Walker.  

Jamie Shearman, area director – Cambridge at Morgan Sindall, Howard Group’s appointed construction partner gave the audience an overview of the construction programme, specifically highlighting Morgan Sindall’s commitment to delivering intelligently designed, high quality buildings that are energy efficient, sustainable and will stand the test of time, before handing back to Nicholas to expand on the future vision for the Campus.

Directly addressing the urgent market demand for additional life science R&D space in the Cambridge area, Phase 2 is a pivotal next step in the delivery of Howard Group’s vision for Unity Campus.

On track for completion in July (Building A2), August (Building A1) and November (Building B) this year, the three buildings are the next available newly constructed wet laboratory buildings in Cambridge, delivering a total of over 87,000 sq ft to the market.

Conscious of the project’s environmental impact and in line with Howard Group’s target to drive its property portfolio to Net Zero Carbon by 2035, the construction of Unity Campus saved of 1300 tonnes of carbon through the re-imagining of The Works building in phase 1, and over 253 tonnes of up front carbon on phase two to date.

These savings have been realised by making intelligent carbon choices at the design stage, which will also help the lab’s performances and will help minimise energy costs.

Nicholas Bewes, chief executive officer of Howard Group said: “Unity Campus today is the product of over 10 years of work for Howard Group, having made our first purchase back in 2011 of the Sawston Trade Park.

“Since then, we have set about regenerating and renewing this site – including spending over £3m cleaning up what was a significantly contaminated area. This activity has been, and remains, a real team effort in partnership with many of those here today – our advisors, consultants, funders, member companies here at Unity Campus and those from the rich and vibrant local community that we are all so fortunate to be a part of. You all bring a great deal of expertise, commitment and collaborative enthusiasm for which we are most grateful. 

“Howard Group’s centenary vision sets very high targets for both delivering positive environmental impact as well as social value and this project is a demonstration of our deep-rooted long-term focus as a family business to achieving these goals, as we strive to improve and enrich lives through responsible investing in people, places and ideas.

“In reality, here at Unity Campus that translates to supporting apprenticeships for young people who come from very challenging backgrounds – last month we recruited our fourth FutureIN apprentice – and over the summer we will welcome 18 work experience students from local schools. 

“In addition, from an environmental perspective our whole approach to construction to reduce carbon footprint and waste has resulted in 99 per cent of waste generated through the project being diverted from landfill.”   

Jamie Shearman, area director – Cambridge, Morgan Sindall said: “The topping out ceremony is a great opportunity to reflect on the innovative nature of Building A1’s development and the close collaboration that we’ve enjoyed with Howard Group, which has been central to the project’s success. 

“Completion of A1, together with buildings A2, B and the multi-storey car park extension will provide Howard Group and Unity Campus with market leading wet-laboratory spaces for world-class life science research and development businesses to use for many years to come.

“Throughout the design and construction process, we’ve leveraged our Intelligent Solutions approach to significantly cut carbon emissions. By using our CarboniCa tool and making conscious sustainability-focused choices, we have saved 253 tonnes of up front carbon since the project began.” 

Image source: Howard Group

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