October 2023

University hosts sustainability event at state-of-the-art sustainable construction centre

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As part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Sustainable Business Series, University College Birmingham hosted an event with industry leaders and changemakers on achieving net zero targets titled ‘Sustainable Cities’.

Held at the University’s new Sustainable Construction Centre, sustainability specialists explored how existing buildings can be retrofitted for new purposes, as is the case for the former James Cond print works, as well as how sustainable transport is intrinsic to our cities.

Ashlea Mallett, Sustainability Manager at University College Birmingham, discussed how sustainable cities and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are essential for helping our communities reach net zero, as well as some of the activities the University is enacting on campus.

Next Rosa Wells, FE Principal and Dean for STEM at University College Birmingham, provided an overview of the wide variety of pathways and programmes at the institution that are industry responsive and address the need for sustainable methods of construction as well as regional skills gaps. Rosa also detailed the University’s partnership with University of Warwick and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology to enhance opportunities for learners.

With courses being delivered at the new Centre for Sustainable Construction, it was apt for Hannah Kissick, Associate – Innovations and Sustainability at CPW, to explore some of the ways that the former James Cond print works has been regenerated. Funded by the Growing Places Funding, the project has seen some of the James Cond’s original features maintained, paying homage to the 1920s look and feel of the external façade and internal components all while enhancing energy efficiency with state-of-the-art energy-saving features. For example, the original art deco window frames were preserved, but enhanced with bespoke double glazing.


Following this, Jessica Wilkes-Ball, senior sustainability manager at law firm Mills & Reeve, spoke about the myriad ways that companies can be a part of the transition to achieve sustainability targets, while Clare Maltby, Director Midlands & East of England at Sustrans explored sustainable transport within cities and specifically within Birmingham.

The speakers then joined a panel, answering questions from the audience before attendees embarked on a tour inside of the Centre. With students fully engaged in classes such as brickwork, the attendees enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the classrooms as well as catching an exclusive glimpse into the Centre’s carpentry, electrical, plumbing and construction facilities.

The James Cond Centre for Sustainable Construction is part of £160 million investment in University College Birmingham’s campuses and learning facilities, which includes Camden House and the award-winning McIntyre House and Moss House.

The Sustainable Business Series is the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s flagship campaign on environmental sustainability aiming to share best practice, guidance and knowledge on the measures businesses can take, and commercial benefits of, progressing to net zero.

The campaign will culminate in a conference on Tuesday 2 November, with talks including Encouraging Sustainable Business Practices Amongst Employees and Customers which also includes Ashlea Mallett, Sustainability Manager, on the panel.

Find out more about our Department of Sustainable Construction and sign up to the Sustainable Business Series Conference here

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